Going It Together: For Supriya and Her Partner, a Data Bootcamp Became an Opportunity to Join Forces

By her mid-30s, Supriya Satpathy had already accomplished a lot: a bachelor’s in engineering, an MBA from NYU, and a track record of success as a program manager for multiple Fortune 500 companies. But she was hungry for more. She was compelled to learn more about data.

“I was always working in an environment where data was present,” said Supriya. “It made me want to understand the true power of data, as I never had before.”

When she discovered the Rutgers Data Science Bootcamp, she knew it was fate. And thanks to an unexpected advocate close to home, she found the courage to invest her full self in the course—a big step, but one which led to even bigger rewards.

Finding overwhelming support

This time last year, Supriya was working long hours as a program manager for a large insurance corporation. While she enjoyed the job, something was missing.

“I worked with data every day, but my understanding was limited. I wanted to understand it at a deeper level,” said Supriya. “Somewhere deep in my heart, I knew I had to step back and pursue this interest because I couldn’t stop thinking about it.”

But how would she do it? She had already put a lot of time and money into her education, so she wanted a fast-track solution, not another two-year graduate course. A bootcamp seemed like the best option.

Before researching programs, Supriya discussed the idea with her husband, who works in web development. Not only did he give his full support, he decided to sign up for a bootcamp himself. With a little research, he came across the perfect bootcamps close to their home in New Jersey: Rutgers University offers both a Data Science Bootcamp and a Coding Bootcamp. They’d be embarking on the adventure together.

Deciding to give it her all

Three times a week, Supriya and her husband carpooled to the Rutgers campus for class. In between, they worked together on homework.

“It was an unexpected bonus,” said Supriya. “Driving together to school became a special opportunity for us to spend quality time together.”

The support was especially valuable once her course curriculum began to ramp up. Although Supriya had taken an introductory data course in college, she soon found herself in unfamiliar territory. Luckily, her course instructors, knowledgeable TAs, and classmates were there to help.

“I could ask any question, and they took the time to simplify and explain the underlying concepts. I really appreciated the hands-on support,” Supriya said.

At the same time, though, Supriya’s job was becoming more stressful. The long hours and four-hour commute to and from her office were making it hard for her to enjoy her work anymore. It was overwhelming—and soon, she had to reassess.

“My priority was the bootcamp,” she said. “I was focused on learning data skills because I was sure that’s something I want to move into eventually. So I decided to take a step back from work.”

Halfway through the course, Supriya put in her notice. It was a risk, but she knew that taking it would benefit her in the long run. For now, she wanted to put all her energy into mastering data science.

“It was important to me to give 100 percent in the course. Work will always be there, but this was a unique opportunity,” said Supriya.

Getting down to work

Now that she had the time, Supriya went above and beyond on homework and projects. One of these projects, the final assignment for the course, was particularly notable. Using machine learning, Supriya and her teammates created a platform that would take the boredom out of data analytics. Users input a data set, choose from a list of various machine learning models, and the platform instantly analyzes the data.

“Our goal was to build a platform that could be a valuable tool for data scientists,” said Supriya. “We hoped our project would meet this demand.”

Though the platform is still a work in progress, the assignment gave Supriya and her classmates a taste of what is possible—and instilled Supriya with new confidence in her aptitude for data analytics.

Taking the next step

Completing the boot camp felt bittersweet for Supriya. After six months of total immersion in a learning environment, she was fully-versed in the language of data. Now it was time to return to work and put her skills to good use.

This turned out to be easier than she imagined. Supriya quickly landed a role at JP Morgan Chase & Co., as a VP of cybersecurity product management. Though her role doesn’t focus on data analytics directly, there’s a lot of data involved—and now she understands how to assess it critically.

“Now at work, I always say, show me the data, show me how you came to this conclusion. Learning data science has brought a new level of expertise to my methodology—now, I realize that data is the currency of decision-making at work,” said Supriya.

As for her husband, he found success applying his fresh skills to his existing job—and the whole bootcamp experience has brought a new dimension to their relationship.

“This was an experience I know we’ll cherish for the rest of our lives,” said Supriya.

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