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Business Intelligence Careers

How Fresia Landed Her Data Analyst Dream Job

9 min readView all articles
By John Pauler
Feb 28, 2023

Today, we have a truly inspiring story for you.

Fresia Gitau is sharing her journey to landing a dream role as a Data Analyst at one of the most well-known brands on the planet.

One of the reasons I am such a huge fan of Fresia is that her outlook on life is just amazingly positive. Plus, she's got a work ethic that deserves huge respect. That combination, an amazing attitude and the ability to consistently roll up your sleeves and do the work, is a very special thing. It's a great recipe for long-term success.

I first met Fresia interviewing her for our full-time Data Analyst Bootcamp. Her energy turned me into an immediate fan.

But after talking about Fresia's situation, we mutually agreed the bootcamp was not the best choice for her at the time. Back then, we were running a full-time program (vs today's part-time model), that would require Fresia to stop working. She simultaneously had an interesting job offer on the table. We talked it through and agreed she should try and turn this new job opportunity into a Data Analyst role using the "side door" strategy. That particular pivot attempt didn't work out, but even knowing what we know now, I think it was the right choice for Fresia. I'm glad that's the way she went.

So Fresia kept learning through self-paced courses, while juggling A LOT of other things in her life (family, a full-time job) and kept taking shots at analyst roles when she saw them.

Then recently, she brightened my day with a note that said she had just been offered a role as a Data Analyst with Mercedes-Benz. Talk about a company!

I was so happy for Fresia, and felt very touched by her kind note. So I asked if she would be willing to share the story of her success with our audience.

You can learn more about Fresia and her journey directly from her in this Q&A style interview below.

I hope it will inspire you to take action, commit to doing the work, and believe that anything is possible if you put your mind to it.

Big thanks to Fresia for sharing this!

You just landed an awesome data analyst role with one of the most well-known companies on the planet. Can you tell our audience a bit about the role and what you'll be doing? Is it remote or in-person? What are your responsibilities? What tools will you be using?

I just landed a Network Data Analyst position at Mercedes-Benz USA, where I will be supporting the Network Data and Systems team with analysis and reporting for dealer data and performance. It is a hybrid position, and I will be using Power BI and SQL Azure.

My responsibilities will be:

  1. Developing and deploying standardized reports and dashboards
  2. Engaging in strategic discussions with stakeholders and delivering meaningful data-driven analysis and recommendations on driving business objectives
  3. Identifying opportunities and implementing solutions for creating efficiency and transparency in data
  4. Ensuring the “One Source of Truth” concept by owning a central tracking database containing all identified variables (linking existing data sources)
  5. Defining and creating standard reporting templates, processes, and KPI overviews to regularly update the leadership team.
  6. Collaborating with the Network Data team, Sales & Aftersales Performance teams, and Digital team to identify needs for ad-hoc reporting and creation of ad-hoc reports for the management team.

Now let's jump back in time a bit and tell our audience your story, which is an amazing one that I think will inspire people. When was it you decided to make your career transition? What were you doing at the time professionally? What other responsibilities did you have in your life? What were your first steps toward learning the new skills you knew you needed?

I started my transition journey in 2019. I was working as a Nurse then. I was curious about how I could use technology to be able to predict some conditions like diabetes. I remember reading a case study on “Early Detection of Diabetes using Machine Learning”, and I told my cousin how I would love to be in a position to use technology in medicine.

I decided to enroll in a 14-weekend-only Data Science crash course. It was basically more of an introduction to SQL, Power BI, Excel, and SAS. At the end of it, I felt that I was not in a position to handle a data analyst position, but I had this urge and hunger of learning more! I started learning on w3schools, Udemy, and YouTube.

When Covid-19 hit in 2020, I had a lot of data to play around with, and this just confirmed my passion for analyzing data and making meaningful insights from it. I enrolled in a Data Analytics Masters program at Western Governors University. From the knowledge I had accumulated from the Udemy courses, I was able to complete the Masters program in 7 months.

Two of my favorite things about you have been your consistent effort and amazing positive attitude throughout your journey. You juggle a LOT, and still found time to study, learn, network and work your way into a new career. How did you manage to handle so much and maintain such a positive outlook under the workload? Any tips to offer our audience?

Looking back at my life, I have never had anything handed to me on a silver platter. I have always had to go get whatever I wanted. I have also been good at multitasking, full of ambition, consistent, determined, persistent, and disciplined.

When I was working as a Corrections Officer at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, which was a medical facility, I could see the Healthcare personnel taking care of the inmates, and I felt that this would be a great way to give back to the community. I was working night shifts full-time while attending nursing school during the day.

When I was a nurse, I was able to multitask between being a nurse, attending Data Analytics online school, working on Data Analytics projects with Project Rite, and taking care of my less than one-year-old daughter, while still maintaining a social life and family responsibilities.

I would advise people to be consistent in whatever they set themselves up for, be disciplined, be persistent, be a go-getter, always remember that no one owes you anything, and you must go get what you want, never give up, and keep on dreaming big!

What was your learning journey like? What are some of the things you focused on first when you started to learn about your data career? Where did you find useful information? Any tips you would give our readers about how they should approach their own learning journey?

I started with learning Excel (specifically Power Query, Pivot Tables and Charts), SQL, and Power BI using the courses below on Udemy:

  1. Microsoft Excel: Business Intelligence w/Power Query & DAX by Chris Dutton
  2. Microsoft Excel – Data Analysis with Excel Pivot Tables by Chris Dutton
  3. Intro to Data Analytics using Excel by Joseph @Wisdify
  4. Beginner Statistics for Data Analytics- Learn the Easy Way! By Joseph @Wisdify
  5. Microsoft Power BI Desktop for Business Intelligence by Chris Dutton
  6. SQL for Data Analysis: Beginner MySQL Business Intelligence by John Pauler
  7. MySQL Database Administration: Beginner SQL Database Design by John Pauler
  8. W3schools.com

The Udemy courses introduced me to Maven Analytics since they were more than helpful in understanding SQL and Power BI. I have always used Maven Analytics since then.

My advice is that everyone has their own journey, this is what worked for me:

  1. Learn SQL (make learning SQL a must if possible), and at least one visualization tool like Power BI or Tableau. Learning Excel (especially pivot charts/Power Pivot) would be great too and makes learning Power BI easier. After getting comfortable with SQL, Excel, and at least Power BI or Tableau, learning at least one programming language like Python or R would be a plus. Do not overwhelm yourself by learning all languages at once. Choose your tool and be great at it!
  2. While learning, please make sure that you are working on projects so that you can have a project portfolio to showcase your skills to the employer.
  3. Ensure that your resume clearly highlights your skills and experience, irrespective of your previous career. Remember to include your soft skills since they come in handy as transferable skills especially in career transitioning.
  4. Keep on learning, sharpen your skills by taking certifications, and utilize free learning resources like LinkedIn learning. Remember, practice makes perfect.
  5. Do not forget to work on your LinkedIn profile. Make meaningful connections and do not be afraid to request mentorship from a great role model.
  6. For resources, I utilized Maven Analytics, Udemy, and Western Governors University learning materials. Maven Analytics has very beginner-friendly courses and great instructors who helped me a lot during my transition.

What was your job search and interview process like? How long did it take? How many applications do you think you put in? How many interviews did you go through? For the role you landed, can you discuss the hiring process in as much detail as you are comfortable?

The job search was exhausting, with numerous rejections, but I never gave up. I was very intentional with my applications because I wanted to specifically work with SQL and Power BI, and so my applications were fewer than for someone who was not choosy on what tool to use.

The best part of the job search was that for every interview I did, I received a job offer. I was always brushing on my SQL and Power BI skills to the extent of being comfortable with the tools and interviewing. I was using the STAR method to practice interviewing. For my current role, I did a zoom interview and a second in-person interview where I presented a Power BI project that I had worked on from a dataset provided to me by my manager.

You took an interesting approach (which I encouraged) trying to pivot from a non Analyst role into an Analyst role at a prior employer. This can be a great move, but can also be challenging in many cases. Can you talk a bit about your experience there?

This was the most risky decision I have ever made in my whole career life.

I ended up in a Cybersecurity specialist position at my previous company. The company is one of the best brands I could ever dream of working with, and even though I was hopeful that someday I would be able to transfer into a Data & AI position, I was feeling my joy draining day by day by not being able to utilize my data analytics skills. I was constantly fighting battles with myself, looking back at all the sacrifices I had made so far just to end up doing something that was not giving me the career fulfillment I have always wanted.

After 6 months on that path, I decided that it was time for me to take a break, regroup, remind myself of the reasons I initially started this transition journey, and move forward with no regrets. I knew that I was taking the risk during one of the toughest times economically, but I had to choose my mental health and hope for the best. That is why I reached out to you because I knew you would understand this decision, knowing how hard I have worked to get to this point.

I was confident with my Data Analytics skills, and I knew that all I needed was to refresh on what I already knew. Two months down the line, I was back to confidently portraying my skills through interviewing with potential employers.

If our readers are interested in getting in touch with you or following you, what is the best way for them to get in touch or follow you for more information?

Please feel free to contact me via LinkedIn or via email address at fresiagitau@yahoo.com with any thoughts, comments, or questions about my work--I am always interested in making new professional acquaintances.

If you could only give one piece of advice for someone looking to launch their own data career, what would that advice be?

It is never too late to start your Data career – Start Now, your journey will be unique – It’s a marathon, not a sprint, Be Consistent, Never Give up, & Keep on Believing! All the best in your journey!

I loved this story!

I hope reading this gave you some useful tips and inspiration, and that you will use this as fuel for your own journey.

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John Pauler

John brings over 15 years of business intelligence experience to the Maven team, having worked with companies ranging from Fortune 500 to early stage startups. As a MySQL expert, he has played leadership roles across analytics, marketing, SaaS and product teams.

John brings over 15 years of business intelligence experience to the Maven team, having worked with companies ranging from Fortune 500 to early stage startups. As a MySQL expert, he has played leadership roles across analytics, marketing, SaaS and product teams.

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