3 Reasons to Learn Data Analytics

In today’s data-rich world, whether you’re an entry-level worker or a Fortune 500 executive, a doctor or a programmer, a marketer or a teacher - there’s a benefit to learning how to analyze data. No subject area is immune to getting the data treatment.  

ESPN teams with Five Thirty Eight for regular stats and data analysis so you can understand sports from every angle. Data scientists at OkCupid and CoffeeMeetsBagel build algorithms to help people find love. At the New York Times, data journalists reshape how their readers consume information through data visualizations.

With so much data around us, understanding how to use that data effectively can help you to expand your skill set, critical thinking ability, and career trajectory.

Here are three great reasons why you should pick up some data skills...

Innovating Lake Erie- The Start to a Smart Lake

Innovating Lake Erie- The Start to a Smart Lake

Innovation has long been a part of life and work on the Great Lakes. The unique water resources of this region set the stage for the greatest period of technological advancement the world has ever seen and continue to drive one of America’s most dynamic regional economies. Despite their essential role in our commerce, industry, and entrepreneurship, the Lakes are consistently undervalued as an economic asset and catalyst of innovation. However, the systemic undervaluation of our Great Lakes has not gone unnoticed.  The Cleveland Water Alliance (CWA), a collection of forward-thinking research institutions, industry leaders, environmental organizations, and public utilities, came together to develop a new way of thinking about regional economic development. This framework focuses on creating a Blue Economy where innovating and monetizing solutions to water challenges replaces continued pollution of our resources as a key driver of prosperity.

Creating a Data Smart Culture through Learning

Creating a Data Smart Culture through Learning

Now, data is everywhere. You can track what you eat, how much you walk, and what you wear.  It’s not just personal data for yourself either.  Every organization also wants to know how to get value out of data and apply to real life situations as quickly as possible.

From nonprofit organizations to the largest healthcare organizations to businesses big and small, data skills are in demand across all industries.

Why? Because data is one of the best way to predict outcomes, help fix a problem before it becomes a crisis, and to find relationships between details you may not have considered before. With that in mind, organizations are asking: what data skills are the most important for my team to learn?

Tyler Byers, Data Scientist and Machine Learning Engineer at Itron said it best at a Meetup of aspiring data scientists, “The most important skill for a data scientist is to know how to learn, and how and where to acquire new skills.”

This more than anything is what can help professionals who have no formal training in data skills get up to speed fast. Being willing to learn new skills is what will help organizations fill the data scientist gap that exist on staffs now.

DigitalC Makes Learning Data Skills Easy

Being open to learning is the first step. The second is knowing how and where to acquire new skills. For this reason, DigitalC has created three types of data analytic bootcamps with a focus on data skills for professionals: The Data Analytics Workshop, Data Science for Analysts, and Data-Driven Executives.

Unlike online courses, these workshops and bootcamps are taught in small cohorts in-person,  focused on specific data questions or areas for analysis.  Our corporate bootcamps are designed with executives and managers prior to beginning.  Working with managers and IT staff, the data available in the organization, governance and access policies, and top goals for the organizations are identified. We tailor the bootcamps ensuring that what’s learned supports staff with their daily work when they leave the class.

Case Study: Data Science for Analysts in Healthcare

Recently DigitalC designed a 10-week Data Science Analysts in Healthcare bootcamp in conjunction with the executives and managers of University Hospital with the goal of training a cohort of 15 employees on how to gather and uncover data to solve pressing data questions to improve performance.

After taking the Data Science for Analysts bootcamp focused on R, Abby Williams, Operations Analyst at University Hospitals says “Digital C helped me think outside the box and understand the true meaning of exploratory analysis”

Now Abby and others are using R to describe, summarize, and filter data; using visualization tools to plot, chart, and share results; and using design thinking as a new mindset to find the best solutions for their problems.

"Putting the power of data-driven insight into the hands of those whom can best act on it is paramount to UH's success. With the tools DigitalC can teach, we can help build a broader and deeper team of data-savvy employees to lead these activities. I am excited to see what innovations and insights these new tools will bring to the organization," said John Shanahan, Manager Enterprise Data, Reporting & Analytics at University Hospital.

Sing up HERE for our upcoming Data Analytics Workshop Oct. 10-12. 

For more information on the Learning Studios or the R Bootcamp, visit the Learning Studios page, or contact Kauser at kauser.razvi@digitalc.org. 

How Y.O.U helped ME

Growing up in the Glenville neighborhood of Cleveland, Ohio had its challenges. The schools I attended never had the latest textbooks, never mind laptops or tablets.  While suburban sports teams had cable and phone companies sponsoring their playing fields, our sports teams had outdated jerseys and well-used equipment. No matter how hard we tried we never seemed to compare academically to suburban schools.

Sports helped me keep my mind off the distractions.  This journey of mine started with my middle school basketball coach, Damon Loretz. Mr. Loretz pushed me to rise above my surroundings. He was the one who persuaded me to sign up for Upward Bound, a program I grew to love. Upward Bound is a year-round college-prep program designed for academically qualified Cleveland Municipal School District high school students who were either first-generation college students or from low-income households.

Starting at age 12, I spent five long Upward Bound summers at Baldwin Wallace University taking up college courses, living in college dorms, and building lifelong friendships. I even got a biweekly stipend of $30 for attending class sessions. At the time I thought, “Wow, I never had this much cash in my pocket before.” I felt different, powerful, and hopeful. This money allowed me to play on three sports teams and participate as a member of student government instead of what would have been a required part-time job. However, by the summer of my junior year, the need for additional finances began to set in.

That same summer Terry Webb, the assistant director of the Upward Bound program, handpicked a group of qualified students and told us about a new partnership with an organization that would forever change my life, Youth Opportunity Unlimited (Y.O.U.), a nonprofit workforce development provider based in Cleveland.

Y.O.U’s mission is to support teens and young adults in Northeast Ohio as they prepare to enter the workforce. Through this partnership, I worked that summer as an Upward Bound student assistant and received my first lesson on the importance of digital literacy. I learned about and used technology to interact and communicate with parents and students about upcoming events, meetings, and class changes. I also applied my digital literacy skills to work collectively with other student workers on research projects for the program. I’m still not sure what Terry saw in me, but I was determined to learn everything I could involving this thing called Digital literacy.

The money I made from Y.O.U. that summer helped my mom pay for my senior dues and college application fees. Though money was an excellent incentive, little did I know the more powerful impact was learning the true value of being a good employee and getting a head start on technology that trained me for the future and continues to expand my opportunities.

Nine years after completing the Upward Bound Program, I am using those same fundamentals as the Case Manager for DigitalC’s new ReStart Boot Camp Program. ReStart has touched more than 30 community providers to advance digital skills acquisition. One of those partner organizations is Youth Opportunity Unlimited. Small world right? I manage the ReStart participants through the Bootcamp Program. I constantly meet with our provider groups on coordination of facilities, curriculum, certification processes, and orchestrating our five current certificate offerings. One of those same  Y.O.U. programs is being delivered right here in our offices at DigitalC. I’m thrilled to work closely with the 16 young women who have enrolled in the 8-week program. It’s really rewarding to see youth from a similar background as mine get trained for future technology opportunities that they are yet aware of.

Having been able to take advantage of the fundamentals that Y.O.U. offered has been an ongoing bridge to my success. My interaction with Y.O.U. has come full-circle. I am positive that the lessons the current and future students are learning from this program will impact their lives forever and will ultimately lead to many other success stories like mine.

A Technology Bootcamp Offers Security for the Summer and Skills for a Lifetime

One (of many!) odd things about me as a child was my obsession with reading the newspaper every day.  Growing up in the 80’s, newspaper subscriptions were a staple in my suburban, middle-class neighborhood, but I’m pretty sure most were being read by adults, not eight-year-olds.  Over twenty years later, and despite the decline of the newspaper industry, I remain a steadfast subscriber to my city’s local paper, The Cleveland Plain Dealer.  It was while perusing the Sunday edition recently that I read a story that stopped me in my tracks.  Focused on the upcoming summer vacation for local high school students, the article featured quote after quote from youth in the city afraid of the impending summer break, due to the rampant violence in their neighborhoods.  Teenagers so fearful of being caught in the crossfire of a neighborhood shootout that they said they’d rather be in school year round.  

"It's going to be hectic this summer," said Dre, a 16-year-old sophomore. "There's going to be a lot of killing."

"I'm hoping to stay out the way [this summer]. I don't want to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I'm not trying to get shot. Especially if I'm not doing nothing."

"We can't go outside or just sit outside because you can be caught in a crossfire," said Dontasia Wall, a 16-year-old who lives not far from the school in the city's Hough neighborhood.

"People have already been dying throughout the year," she said. "When it gets hot. It'll be worse."

As a Cleveland resident and aforementioned newspaper addict, I’m sadly familiar with the issues surrounding crime in my city, but this story told in this perspective, was a new narrative for me.  I flashed back to my high school summer breaks when my biggest concern was how I’d earn enough at my part time job to buy concert tickets, while still getting plenty of time at the beach with my friends.  Meanwhile, the youth profiled in the article spoke candidly of their plans to stay indoors as much as possible, all summer.  Several said they would sleep to pass the time.  Their hopelessness translated across the page.

A few of the students mentioned being lucky enough to land summer jobs that would keep them busy, with less time to spend out on the streets.  One such jobs program highlighted in the article is the Youth Opportunities Unlimited (Y.O.U.) Summer Employment Program. The popular program connects area employers with young adults ages 14-24 for 6-week summer jobs.   Last year, the program employed over 2,500 youth, with approximately 100 participants being offered permanent positions after completing their summer stints.  

This summer, my organization DigitalC, a local nonprofit focused on leveraging technology for community impact, is proud to partner with Y.O.U. as a Summer Employment Program worksite, with a twist.  Sixteen girls and young women (and I’m so proud to say our entire class is female!!) at the DigitalC office are spending eight weeks in a technology skills-building bootcamp, modeled off of DigitalC’s ReStart Program.  

The bootcamp, which launched June 20th, began with basic digital literacy (typing, using the internet, creating and emailing a resume, etc.).  Since then, the participants have moved on to Microsoft Office training, where they are taking a deeper dive into Word, Excel, Access, Outlook, and PowerPoint.  Upon completion, they’ll have the opportunity to sit for a Microsoft certification exam that earns them an industry-recognized credential certificate.  Following the Microsoft training, the girls will also be introduced to coding and programming concepts as well as networking and hardware fundamentals.  The bootcamp will wrap up in mid-August with a chance for the participants to meet and hear from women working in technology, offering advice and guidance on building a career using tech skills.

As we enter into the third week of the boot camp, summer is in full swing and Cleveland is once again filled with the vibrancy of long days of sunshine and endless fun, outdoor activities.  Meanwhile, I can’t stop thinking about those students in that Plain Dealer article, stuck inside, waiting for summer to end.  Avoiding bullets.  Wishing they had somewhere, anywhere to go, where they could feel safe.  I think about the girls I see every day in our boot camp class and wonder where they would be if they weren’t here?  Where do they go after they leave?  I wonder how I, and we as a community, can do more?  

I’m so grateful to Y.O.U. for the opportunity to offer DigitalC’s ReStart Program to the 16 young women in our group.  I see their enthusiasm and excitement to learn and I’m glad they have a space that is not just safe, but also full of opportunities for empowerment and personal growth.  But I remain worried about those left out.  Those sitting at home, waiting for the school year to start. Those to whom ‘summer break’ has a totally different meaning.  It is my hope that this one bootcamp, while impactful, is not the end of the story.  That this pilot program and others like it continue to grow, and that we as a community do more, so that fewer of our city’s youth have to spend their summer in hiding.