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Feb 24, 2023

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Business Intelligence Careers

Lauren Rosenthal: My Journey from Occupational Therapy to Data Analytics

8 min read

Feb 24, 2023

/

Business Intelligence Careers

Lauren Rosenthal: My Journey from Occupational Therapy to Data Analytics

8 min read

Feb 24, 2023

/

Business Intelligence Careers

Lauren Rosenthal: My Journey from Occupational Therapy to Data Analytics

8 min read

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Lauren Rosenthal: My Journey from Occupational Therapy to Data Analytics

Julia Child is quoted as having said “Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.” As of just a month ago, I can definitely say that I wholeheartedly agree with this advice.

It’s hard to believe that not even a year ago, I wasn’t living this reality.

I still look back over the past year and wonder, “how did I get to this place and how can I help others do the same?”

This is exactly what I would tell Past Lauren:

Dream about what you want to do

My path to Maven Analytics started well before I was actually hired. In fact, looking back, it might have started before I even went to college – I just didn’t know it yet!

I knew from an early age that I wanted to get into a job where I could genuinely help people. I’ve always enjoyed being a person others could rely on and I wanted that to carry into my career.

That’s how I originally decided on occupational therapy (OT). It was a career that consistently ranked on “Top Careers” lists for salary, work-life balance, and upward mobility.

So, off to school I went to become an occupational therapist. Unfortunately, only 2 months after beginning my first job as an OT, I realized it wasn’t everything I had hoped it would be. I found myself stressed out, being required to meet unrealistic productivity demands, and spending more of my day documenting sessions than actually helping people.

To say I was disappointed would be an understatement; after all, I had just spent a lot of time, money, and effort getting into a career that I knew was unsustainable for me.

I knew I needed to make a drastic change but had no idea what it was going to be.

Decide how you’re going to accomplish your goals

I spent the next eight years of my life considering what to do next. I was terrified of making another “bad” choice in my career and feeling stuck, yet again. I thought about trying to get into UX design or front-end development, but each time I started taking courses I found that they didn’t interest me enough to complete them after working full days.

I decided to approach my next steps more methodically.I considered what I did like about occupational therapy (creativity, problem-solving, collaboration, helping people) and what I didn’t (little room for advancement, unrealistic productivity expectations, red tape, and having to constantly explain and justify my job).

I also thought about what I wanted out of my next role:

  1. I knew I wanted to continue helping people, even if it was in a completely different way.

  2. After working from home for a year during the pandemic, I thought working remotely would be ideal (spending all day with my dogs? Heck yeah!).

  3. The tech industry was appealing, specifically ed-tech.

  4. I wanted a career that could grow with me.

Enter data analytics.

I found data analytics in January of 2022 and quickly realized that it might be exactly what I had been looking for. I would get to help people by interpreting data and helping them make smarter business decisions. Plenty of data analytics jobs were remote and in the ed-tech industry and there is enormous growth potential!

I hopped on board the data analytics train and started taking courses. What really solidified my belief that this was the right move was that I came home from work exhausted but ready to jump into the courses and continue learning.

I took a variety of courses and certifications between February and June. I found SQL fascinating and enjoyed flexing my creative muscles while building dashboards. And finally, I found Maven Analytics.

At this point, I don’t even remember what brought me to Maven except for LinkedIn. I started seeing their posts and the monthly data challenges and was intrigued.

I needed a stronger foundation in Excel and Tableau so I started taking Chris Dutton and Dustin Cabral’s courses. Then I decided that, even though I felt my SQL skills were somewhat strong, I should take John Pauler’s MySQL courses too, and, let me tell you, I was thrilled with how much I learned.

Do the hard work

I spent nights and weekends learning business intelligence skills, still purely with the intention of getting a job in data analytics.

I started engaging on LinkedIn and posted a few articles about my transition to data analytics and fangirled (no, literally) when John Pauler messaged me to say he enjoyed the articles and gave me some great tips. We connected and I kept up with Maven on LinkedIn.

I started looking for data analytics jobs about four months after I started my journey and was lucky enough to find one within a few months. I started in August, and, in the meantime, John posted on LinkedIn looking for TAs for Maven’s Q&A.

And then this happened:

lauren and john conversation


I did apply and, while I thought it would be incredible to be able to work with the team at Maven, I genuinely thought “I probably won’t hear anything back; there are too many highly qualified people who are passionate about Maven and SQL for me to make the cut.”

But then it happened: about a month after beginning my first full-time data analyst job, Aaron Parry emailed me and said he thought I would be a great fit for a bigger role and asked if I would be interested in meeting.

To say I was shocked is an understatement. I quickly responded with an enthusiastic yes! I met with him and we talked about what my role could look like. We agreed that I would begin answering student SQL questions and start sitting in on some platform demos on a part-time basis.

Defy expectations

I want to be clear that I loved my first data analytics job.

The team I was working with was great, the data was interesting, and I was learning a ton. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience but when, after two months of part-time consulting with Maven, Aaron asked if I would be interested in coming on full-time with the title of Learning Guide, I was ecstatic.

As a Maven Learning Guide, I would be getting the best of all worlds. I could continue helping students on the SQL forums, work directly with companies who are learning business intelligence skills, and continue producing content for people looking to get into data analytics.

Even better, I am the first person to be hired at Maven with data analytics in the job description. I get to do data analysis for a company teaching data analytics (how very meta).

Don’t get me wrong, I obsessed over my decision. I was nervous that leaving my first job after 3 months might look terrible. I was uncertain about transitioning away from a purely data analytics role after putting in so much work.

But I also knew I strongly believed in Maven’s mission, loved the team and the start-up culture, and believed there was strong growth potential. I knew I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

Dare to take a chance

And so I took a huge leap of faith.

I started full-time with Maven in January, just in time to go on the team summit to Miami. I met everyone in person, including colleagues living in Germany, Mexico, and Colombia. I got the chance to collaborate with everyone and learn about the culture at Maven. It was at the summit that I realized I truly had made the best decision for me.

Coming full circle: a year ago, I never thought this was where I would be.

I hoped that I would be content working in a data analyst position, writing queries, building dashboards, and providing recommendations to stakeholders. And I definitely could have been!

But now I’m at a place that allows me to flourish.

Looking at the list I had put together for what I disliked about my first career, I no longer have to race against the clock to meet productivity demands or justify my purpose. I’m at a company that values my voice and my opinion.

And when I consider what I liked about my first career, my job as a Learning Guide at Maven fulfills all of those criteria. I get to create content and build dashboards, flexing my creative muscles. I help solve SQL problems and collaborate with colleagues on a daily basis. But most importantly, I truly feel like I’m helping people.

I’ve learned so much since I started at Maven, and even more so since I came on full-time, but my biggest takeaway is that taking the chance is totally worth it.

Anyway, I sign off on the majority of my communication with students with “Hope this helps!” or “Hope this answers your questions!” and that feels really relevant here.

I hope this inspires you to dream about what you want to do, decide how you’re going to accomplish your goals, do the hard work, defy expectations, and most of all, dare to take the chance.

Don’t be a stranger!

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