From Consultant to Crushing It: How One Engineer Upgraded His Technical Skills in Weeks, Not Years
It’s a story that’s all too common. A young professional graduates with all the technical training they need for the job they want. But after just a few years in the workforce, they quickly realize they might not have all the skills they need for the work they’re actually doing every day.
Career trajectories change after graduation—often radically. And even highly trained professionals may need to update their skills to compete in rapidly evolving careers and new hybrid positions. In fact, that’s exactly where industrial and systems engineer, Jeff Box found himself just a few years into his career as an analytics consultant.
Consulting on a career change
“When I joined the workforce, I got pulled into the consulting side of analytics. But that work got tech-heavy really quickly,” admitted Jeff. “I was lacking some of the technical training to really do the work, so I spent a lot of time creating brute force solutions with inadequate tools and hacked together workarounds.”
And Jeff’s not alone. Like thousands of other engineers and data analysts, Jeff quickly realized that if he wanted to succeed, he needed an upgrade, so he decided to enroll in the Georgia Tech Data Science and Analytics Bootcamp, an intensive 24-week data science program.
It wasn’t an easy choice. In fact, he left his job at a promising healthcare startup to dedicate himself to the course full-time. “I had to make a decision,” Jeff explains. “And at the end of the day, I decided that I really wanted to shift my career focus. That’s why I signed up.”
But what seemed like a simple skills upgrade quickly transformed into something more. And Jeff felt the shift on his very first day of class.
A boot camp for the real world
The boot camp is intense by design. On top of learning Python, SQL, and how to work with big data, students are expected to apply cutting-edge technical skills to projects after just a few weeks in class.
In fact, one of Jeff’s earliest class projects involved training a hospital neural network to predict patient morbidity rates using machine learning and a massive ICU database. And he loved it.
But Jeff’s favorite part of the course wasn’t just learning new technical skills. It was the project-based learning centered around real-world experience.
“My teacher, Devang Gandhi, had been working in the industry—at General Electric—for years,” Jeff explained. “So he’d constantly add his own real-world experience to each lesson with notes like, ‘In practice, this is what I’ve encountered,’ or, ‘This is how it’s typically done.’ His professional insights were incredibly helpful.”
And it was exactly this functional expertise that helped Jeff make the leap from theory to practice in his own career.
From consultant to crushing it
“There’s no way to master all these [technical] skills in just six months,” Jeff admitted. “I’ll never pursue a Ph.D. in data science—nor do I think it’s necessary. This course was the perfect career move. We covered every topic I was interested in, and now I work with teams of very technical people using my soft consultant skills and deeper analytics knowledge to provide real value.”
And it’s exactly that hybrid combination of hard technical skills and industry management background that’s made Jeff a valuable commodity in the fast-changing world of tech consulting.
After finishing the course, Jeff landed an advanced analyst position at Slalom, a consulting firm in Atlanta. “I’ve only been on the job for a month and a half, but I can already see numerous ways to grow in this field,” said Jeff.
Jeff’s final piece of advice for anyone who’s nervous about taking a boot camp to upgrade their skills is simple: “You get out it what you put into it. Believe in your ability to change course.”
“I was scared that I wasn’t going to have the technical skills to do the kind of work that I’m doing now. Some of my co-workers have been at this for years,” Jeff relates. “But I’ve been able to marry my new tech skills with my consulting experience, and I’m excited about where I’ll be in the next two, five, and even ten years from now.”