Do any readers know of job openings for a data analyst with 10 years of experience using SAS? I currently manage safety data for the Federal Railroad Administration. For various reasons, I’m very interested in “moving on up” — though it doesn’t necessarily need to be “to the East side.” Data science is awesome and relevant to everything, including sumo (naturally). I’ve been reading a lot about the whisky-making industry, and you’d be amazed at how much data Diageo and other companies are collecting as they regulate steeping temperature, track malting progress, and trigger the cut from the heads to the heart to the tails of the distillation.
My background is in Economics. I got my BA in Economics and Latin American Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. No, I’m not a basketball fan…at least until they bring back the hand check and get rid of charging fouls. After a stint teaching English in Japan, I got my Masters in Economics at East Carolina University, where I learned the power of Econometrics and Forecasting…and importantly their limitations and the dangers of bias.
Unfortunately, the standard Economics curriculum does not seem to delve deeply enough into data management. I’m always stunned at how much data is stored and analyzed in spreadsheets and text files, cobbled together with Ctrl+C and glue sticks. I learned a great deal about data management and programming from a colleague of mine with a degree in computer science. We worked together at a non-profit called Social Compact that assembled data from municipal data sources to create neighborhood population estimates.
Our main targets were food deserts and the lack of formal banking services in many urban communities. Much of our day involved cleaning tax assessment data, building permits and utility data and creating replicable ETL (extract, transform, load) process flows. Municipal data sets have tons of data, much of it unstructured. We would update tax assessment data with information from the building permits to create estimates of the number of housing units, and mash that up with data from the credit bureaus on market strength, then map locations of the closest grocery stores and retail banks.
Though I learned a lot, including the power of maps and GIS analytics, I needed to learn formal best practices in data management. So, I went back to school at George Washington University and got my MS in Information Systems. This helped me at my current job where I manage the data behind several of our safety systems, including our accident data from the railroads, inspection data, and our grade crossing inventory. This leads to interesting analyses regarding rule-making activity, accident trends, and inspection effectiveness. Crossing incidents are correlated with single-family residential developments, so we’re working to understand more about how to mitigate those risks.
It’s time I move on, though. I would love to go back East to Japan but that’s not necessary. I need to be challenged and I look forward to new opportunities. If you know of any, and can put up with bad puns, drop me a line at email@example.com or feel free to leave a comment.