Image with a dark blue image and red lines and circles connecting together, coming to meet in the middle where there is a photo of Olivia Kim. There are also faint lines in the background that mimic the more prominenet red lines

A career in data offers life-long learning and flexibility. Data professionals are in demand in nearly every industry. From entry-level positions like database design and data reporting to senior-level management and even consulting, studying data science can open you up to a multi-faceted, pick-it-yourself career path. Breaking into the data field may seem daunting, so we interviewed Olivia Kim, a Lighthouse Labs graduate of our Data Science Bootcamp and our resident Marketing Data Analyst, to see how she got there and what she’s doing now.

Growing up and studying in Vancouver, Olivia eventually returned to her native South Korea to continue her studies in economics. While working as a research assistant there, she realized that she enjoyed analyzing data was something she could see herself doing. Once back in Canada, she began to explore her options. When her friend recommended Lighthouse Labs, she liked what she saw and decided to go for it.

Life during a Lighthouse Labs Bootcamp

Beyond her friend’s recommendation, the hands-on aspect drew Olivia to the Data Science Bootcamp. Plus, with the help of Career Services, students could get their foot in the door.

"It wasn’t just theory - there were a lot of assignments and projects, and we got a lot of help prepping for interviews. The program tested our knowledge to see where we were in our learning journey. It was also clear what we would need to know on the job."

Completing a bootcamp definitely takes perseverance and drive, but the support that Olivia and her classmates received made it more accessible.

"Mentors are there for you when you get stuck as well as the Discord channel where you can ask other students or a mentor for help if needed. You can have a Discord chat session with your peers to work on a project, similar to group work at university."

"The curriculum was also structured logically, so we knew exactly what to do and where to go next. For example, the day’s topic would be data visualization, then all our assignments and lectures would be about that topic."

From bootcamp grad to Lighthouse Labs employee

Olivia’s journey from starting her data science journey at Lighthouse Labs before coming on board to work is rare.

"It was the same as any other job application process. I got the heads up from Career Services that Lighthouse Labs was looking for analysts and applied to the job along with a few other students. I went through the interview steps and was eventually offered the position."

Olivia counts herself among the data analysts, one of the career paths that Data Science Bootcamp grads can take. However, there are a few other routes, like data scientist, data engineer, and machine learning engineer. For Olivia, her job is to take complicated data and present it in a readable and understandable way. She has a small piece of advice for those looking to take the data science route.

"You’ll need a solid coding background. You’ll need to know more theories and to write your own code and algorithms. This is something that you can build a foundation with in bootcamp, then learn more about on the job."

Challenges and triumphs

Every tech job comes with its share of challenges. Developers of all levels know that one wrong line of code can throw off an entire project. When it comes to data professionals, the challenges often lie in the data sets themselves.

"One aspect is simply trying to find usable, clean, and trustworthy data. Then there are questions like, where can I find the data and do I have enough of it? Sometimes the data you need just isn’t there, or the information you find just isn’t helpful."

But as far as Olivia’s concerned, the benefits far outweigh the challenges. For example, remote (or hybrid) work is a common benefit for those in the data science sphere. In fact, 95% of our grads are either in a fully remote or hybrid setup. In an ironic twist, I interviewed her over Google Meet as she answered my questions from her hotel room in the Bahamas. Case and point. Of course, sunny office locations aren’t the only perk.

"The data field is very flexible. You can work almost anywhere and move around once you have some experience."

While Olivia works in marketing, she knows other data professionals in healthcare, sports, and aviation. The data science and analytics realm is also seeing a slow but steady increase in women joining the ranks. According to Zippia, while just 20% of data scientists are female, nearly half of data analysts are female.

Advice for those considering bootcamp

Committing to a full-time (or part-time) bootcamp takes courage. It’s a big step to launch into something new; it takes grit and determination to see it through. But if over 4,000 alumni are any indication, completing bootcamp is a doable and rewarding task. If you’re still a little hesitant, Olivia says that the support you’ll receive from mentors and fellow students comes in clutch for moments of uncertainty.

"The most important thing to remember is you’re not going through it alone - you have the support of the staff and your fellow students, and mentors will always make time to help you. You can find help for anything you’re worried about."

Want to launch into one of the most exciting and flexible careers out there? Download the curriculum pack for our Data Science bootcamp here. Ready to jump right in? Start the application process below and launch your tech career in just 12 weeks.