Chelsea Snedden made her career change to tech during a global pandemic
Chelsea Snedden quit her job at an environmental engineering firm last November before the pandemic hit. It was a risky decision on its own, but she couldn’t have predicted the enormity of what she would be facing a few months later.
Today, Chelsea has successfully completed her career change into tech, and she’s thrilled to be a data analyst at a downtown Indianapolis firm. She loved working for the environment in her previous role and feared she would have to forego this passion to work in tech, but her new company manages recycling initiatives.
She credits her successful shift to tech, in part, to the amazing Data Analytics Bootcamp at Butler University. “I spent my nights and weekends learning Python, SQL, MongoDB, AWS and more. It was a risky decision leaving my job in November but this year’s struggle has paid off in so many ways.”
What led you to your getting into tech and this occupation?
I attended the Indiana Statehouse’s GIS Day in 2019, and at a training for Python and GIS, I discovered I really loved Python. It was fascinating to me and the process was so logical, very easy for my brain to grasp. I love imagining developing like little puzzles! I enrolled in a coding bootcamp shortly after this event.
What has been your career path so far?
My passion has always been working for the environment. I worked for the sustainability office at IU Bloomington, studying heavy metal usage until graduating with my Bachelor’s of Science in environmental management.
After graduation, I began working at a civil engineering firm as a natural resource planner. I worked on high-level environmental planning and restoration projects all over Indiana, but I departed from this position shortly before COVID-19 hit.
I left to focus on a career change, enrolling in the Butler University Data Analytics Bootcamp. It was a great experience and I got a chance to help try to solve our bee crisis using USDA honey bee data (http://www.dowehaveaplanbee.com/). I finished the bootcamp in May 2020 and landed a wonderful position with Keter Environmental Services, Inc. in September.
Keter is a firm that focuses on delivering high-quality waste and recycling programs. I didn’t know it was possible to mix the tech world with the sustainability world!
When you think of a day in your life, what are the main work activities you do or responsibilities you have?
Respond to email requests, perform data integrity tasks (editing, cleaning and making adjustments based on requests by other departments), developing reports, auditing the database constantly for bugs and general data discrepancies.
Help us picture your work environment.
My company has been very proactive about COVID-19, so we are all working from home. Right now my work is at my computer desk. When this is all over, I imagine I’ll be sitting with my other wonderful team members, and our awesome data and reporting manager. Our office is very open concept, encouraging collaboration.
What do you love about the work you do?
If I do my job right, my coworkers can be more proactive and sustainable for our clients, or perhaps bring in more work decreasing waste to landfills. I love that I’m a part of that process. My efficiency reporting can help us narrow down problem areas within the company and outside of it, without playing any blame games.
This is why I love data! There is no unconscious bias or human error inherent to it (unless the data collection is set up in a problematic way).
Which personality traits, interests, and abilities are important or common for a person to succeed in and enjoy this occupation?
Logical, process-oriented brains do well in this profession, by and large.
You can stand out from the rest of the competition by having high empathy for your teammates, having high energy for upper management, and always greeting other departments with an attitude of, “How can I make your life easier?”
Which tools/technologies or technical skills are particularly important for a person in your job to be proficient in?
T-SQL, Microsoft Azure, Power BI, Tableau, MongoDB, HTML/CSS, and repository environments like Github.
Which soft skills are particularly important for a person in this occupation to be proficient in?:
Emotional intelligence, knowing when to pick your battles, knowing how to ‘perceive the need’ before your manager has to ask for something.
What encouragement or advice would you offer to others considering this occupation or wanting to stand out amongst others?
Knowing coding languages won’t get you anywhere unless you have actionable projects to prove that you know the technology. Focus on a good Github portfolio, with a strong ReadME. Also, have a general mission or area of focus that can set you apart from other candidates.