How to Transition into an Analytics Job with Nordstrom Strategic Data Analyst @Shashank Kalanithi


“I was hired into the data analytics team, no skills, just a willingness to work”


Shashank was working in the IT department of his company with a degree in chemistry feeling under-stimulated and bored with his job. He asked the supply chain team at his company if they had any work he could help with, sharing that he’d taken a supply chain course in EDX. He was given an excel task and after successfully completing it a hiring manager from a different team noticed his work. This led to him being hired into their analytics team and beginning his career in analytics.


Shashank now works as strategic data analyst for Nordstrom, a well established luxury department store chain. These are the main takeaways from our conversation with Shashank about transitioning into an analytics job.


You can transition into the analytics space with just about any background.

If you are someone who has just finished college and realized you are not very passionate about getting a job in the field your degree was intended for, you are not alone. If you previously thought you needed a degree specifically related to analytics to land an analytics role, that is not always the case. Shashank went through college as a chemistry major thinking he was going to go to medical school and then realized he wasn’t interested in pursuing that path anymore. He is just one example of many career transitioners that changed their path to get a role as an analyst.


Target small to medium size companies ($5 Billion and under companies)

Shashank shares that his first analytics role was within a data science team that was just being formed at his company. Starting out at small to medium sized companies can potentially give someone transitioning into analytics a better shot. Starting at these smaller companies can also allow a “transitioner” to learn data analytics specifics at a higher level and as a result gives you a more holistic understanding of the data analyst role. These roles at smaller companies give an entry-level starter more insight into the data pipeline, often starting from how the data is being collected and how it is connected to and cleaned before it can be analyzed.


How well can you solve problems

You should focus on growing your technical skills at the very beginning of a data analytics career and emphasize how you can use those skills during your job interviews. You should talk about your technical skills as assets for problem solving and efficiency. Hiring managers want to see that you know how to solve problems and add value within your role. For example you don’t just want to state that you know how to use pandas in python. Instead, you’d want to say I know how to use pandas to filter, clean and aggregate data. This also helps the interviewer figure out how you can fit into their team. To figure this out they will need to know how well you implement your different technical skills to solve the problems the business has.


Find your unfair advantages 

You can leverage your domain knowledge in a specific subject to make yourself stand out as the perfect person for the job. Shashank had supply chain knowledge that he mentioned to get started on his first analyst job. Another unfair advantage can be your willingness to hustle and put in extra hours. How much work are you willing to put in to bridge the knowledge and experience gap? If you’re completely new to the space you will likely have to put in more work to get the job done than your more experienced counterparts. Not everyone is willing to take the extra step to excel at their job and if you can convey that willingness to a hiring manager they’re more likely to take a chance on you even if you don’t have the background in the space that other candidates do.