Spencer Elmera Felt Stuck in His Career. Growing His Coding Skills Helped Him Find a Brighter Future

Before bootcamp, Spencer Elmera was a risk analyst, working in SQL to help organizations big and small protect themselves against digital threats. He enjoyed his job and was quite good at it, but he felt as though he had hit a corporate ceiling.

Never one to back away from a challenge, Spencer decided it was time to make a change.

“What I realized in my career path was that I was able to get good jobs because I had a good resume, but I was only able to make lateral moves,” Spencer said. “It got to the point where I had to ask How do I elevate my career? How do I challenge myself more?

Spencer wanted to become a more competitive candidate in the job market and push himself to achieve more. 

“Sometimes when you’re at a place, and you kind of know things, you just feel stuck,” Spencer said. “People can have the mentality that if something’s working or if it’s good enough, then why make changes? I didn’t like that, so that’s when I decided I wanted to go back to school.”

It didn’t take him long to realize that broadening his coding skills was the perfect way to get out of his comfort zone and take his already impressive resume to the next level.

Spencer started researching his options, and that’s when he came across the Rutgers Data Science Bootcamp

The opportunity to learn new skills excited him—he signed up without hesitation.

Getting started

Spencer remembers that the earliest days of boot camp felt slow—but before he even had time to wonder if he had made the right decision, the pace quickly picked up.

It wasn’t long before Spencer settled in and formed a close-knit group of friends. The first project they tackled together investigated the sort of topics a fledgling YouTuber might want to cover in order to grow their following. The group used vast YouTube data sets, putting together some solid—and surprising—results.

“‘Music’ was the most viewed topic,” said Spencer. “But then ‘comedy’ and ‘France’—yes, the country—were both high ones, too. ” 

The group’s second project involved analyzing the stats of NBA players in order to make more informed fantasy sports decisions. Later, they created an online recipe book that computed possible recipes based on a list of available ingredients. 

Each new project offered the group the chance to up the ante—and to put their new skills to the test with real-world applications. 

“If you’re just analyzing data that’s not enough,” said Spencer. “You need to be able to put it together and make it make sense. Companies need you to know how to do that.”

Moving up

As his bootcamp graduation loomed, Spencer began to plan out his next move. He reached out to a resume consulting company for additional career guidance, and learned how to highlight the skills he acquired from boot camp in a professional manner. He received a job offer within three weeks.

Spencer now works as a senior risk data analyst for ThreatMatrix, a branch of LexisNexis Risk Solutions. 

He still uses SQL. Now, though, he has a whole tool kit of new skills he can work with—allowing him to explore all the avenues that were closed to him before. And that’s all he ever really wanted. 

“Bootcamp just opens your eyes,” Spencer said. “The program does teach you something, but it is up to you to want to explore.” 

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