“Now if you had told me I was gonna be doing this I would have called you crazy. I didn’t even know what a data analyst was”- Alex Freberg
How to Get an Analytics Job interviewed Alex Freberg, also known as Alex the Analyst from his YouTube channel name. Alex went from having zero experience in analytics to making around six figures in just three years. This is what Alex had to share about his experience.
Before Alex ventured into analytics, he was working at a non-profit as a resident advocate with a degree in recreational therapy. Alex saw an opening for a data collection and analyst specialist job at the non-profit he was working in. He had absolutely no idea what that title meant at first glance. After reading the job description and realizing the main skill needed was Excel, he decided to apply.
“I knew how to use Excel and so I just applied, and I sold the crap out of myself in that interview and for whatever reason they gave me the job and you know that’s kind of how it all started”
If there’s one thing to take away from Alex’s start in analytics is that people tend to underestimate Excel, but it is by far the most prevalent analytics tool. Forrester Research found that 81% of businesses use Excel. If you have absolutely zero experience in analytics, getting to know basic Excel is a great launch point.
Alex was only asked to use excel in that first data collection and analyst role. It wasn’t until he met a consultant that asked him how they [the non-profit] were using SQL that he learned about other data analysis tools. After hearing about SQL and learning how useful and extremely marketable it is as a tool, he set upon learning how to use it
“If I wanted to continue in this field and continue to grow and get a higher paying job I was like I need to learn SQL”
Around the time Alex learned SQL he also picked up Python and tableau. Alex calls himself a self-taught data analyst. During the first four months or so of learning SQL, Python and Tableau, Alex was learning through free courses. He started with completely free courses and then transitioned to paid Udemy and Coursera courses, and he really put in the work.
“Every platform was amazing. I learned a ton, but I was genuinely spending three or four hours every day for three or four months just constantly learning and trying to perfect or be as good as I could at these skills so that when I was applying to these jobs, I could actually do what I said I can do”
A second thing to take away from Alex’s experience is how a great way to get your first analytics experience is through a role in a non-profit or volunteer work. There’s such a shortage of analytics knowledge and talent within the nonprofit space that beginners can tap into and make a difference while gaining experience for their resume. Yes, you can also get certifications through courses to try to show employers that you know x and y skills. However, those certificates don’t necessarily prove that you know how to apply those skills to a job. If you don’t learn how to use those skills in a real setting it will be hard to prove that you can transfer those skills into a real job. Getting involved with a nonprofit can not only help you build great skills but also a great network. Often, really powerful or influential people get involved in nonprofits.
When asked how much Excel he knew upon applying to that first role Alex revealed he truly didn’t know much. However, in his interview he sold himself to make himself look like the perfect person for the job. Which comes to no surprise since Alex was literally a salesman. He ran a granola company for a while where he and his friend were CEO co-founders and grew that business. He leveraged his skills as a salesman to pitch himself for that job.
“I learned very quickly how to sell myself for a job… I can sell that I know the skill, even if I’m not super great , I can sell that I’m really good at it and can then learn it extremely quickly to actually be really good at it in the job”
To sum up Alex’s career in data , his first role as a data collection specialist and analyst he was making about $47,000 in the Dallas area. Then he made a jump into a $64,000 data analyst role at a healthcare analytics company. The very next job he got was as a junior data analyst at a much larger company. Alex described he was a “contract to hire” making around $76,000. He was optimistic that he would be hired as a full-time employee after his contract, expecting to make similar to what he was making as a contract to hire with the same junior analyst title. Instead, Alex received both a pay jump and title jump. He was hired for a data analyst II role with a salary of around $98,000. Alex managed to achieve this in the span of three years. If anything, his experience shows that it is possible to transition into an analytics career with just about any background.
Link to the full interview on the How to Get an Analytics Job YouTube channel: