A journey of learning and growth into a data analyst

Jane Nyawira yearned for challenge, got tip on what is in demand

In Summary

• Despite Nyawira studying community development, she wanted to do more

• She says if anyone sets their mind to achieve anything, they'll do it with commitment

Data analyst Jane Nyawira at home
Data analyst Jane Nyawira at home

Jane Nyawira took the extra step of enrolling in online classes to learn and acquire the skills needed to become a data analyst.

This was after she had discussed it with a friend, who informed her that it was one of the skills in demand around the globe.

Despite having a background in community development, a course she studied at Chuka University, Nyawira had other aspirations.

"I wanted to learn something extra that would challenge me, help me grow and make me more knowledgeable."

In her search for opportunities to study data analytics, she stumbled on Rlabs. Rlabs is a South African non-profit organisation that offers scholarships to young people worldwide who are interested in the course.

The cost of the studies was $39 a month. Nyawira didn't think twice about applying.

“My mind was already made up; this is what I wanted to do. I usually go for something I have already set my mind to,” she said.

After her successful application, she embarked on a six-month training programme that involved studying Google data analytics and Google advanced analytics.

“I'd sacrifice five hours a day for my studies, as it was on a part-time basis,” Nyawira said.

Most of the lectures were pre-recorded to ensure each learner had enough time to listen and understand. The lecturers were complemented by hands-on activities, assignments and exams.

As a data analyst, one must have the right tools, infrastructure, software, frameworks and processes for gathering, cleaning, mining and visualising data.

To perform at this level, one must be proficient in using Excel and the R programming language for statistical computing, as well as learning data visualisation with Tableau.

Data visualisation helps people see, interact with and understand data better.

One of the goals Nyawira has set for herself is to be an effective communicator and storyteller.

"I want to find an interesting way to interpret data using the knowledge I have acquired, simplify it and make it easily understood by the public or an organisation," she said.

She says this will help her as she ventures into business intelligence (BI) analysis.

A BI analyst uses data to help businesses and organisations make sound decisions about market information, sales and revenue.

Nyawira has a portfolio and a blog where she updates the projects she has done. This is one of the most important aspects of a job application for a data analyst.

One of the challenges she experienced while learning online were distractions from family members. “I had to be strict with my time and inform them that studies come first,” she said.

Secondly, she experienced boredom and loneliness, as she was often studying alone. Whenever she felt demotivated, she would call her friends.

Coursera also provided a platform where learners could interact with others.

She advises anyone considering a career as a data analyst to just start. Making that decision is the first step.

“There are many resources one can learn from and mentors. One needs the drive to solve problems. Having an interest is also important,” Nyawira said.

An interactive dashboard showing one of the projects Nyawira has done containing dataset which she cleaned, processed and analysed on MS Excel
An interactive dashboard showing one of the projects Nyawira has done containing dataset which she cleaned, processed and analysed on MS Excel
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