Juliet Day: Law to Data Science
“I’ve been here for over a year and I still love it and find it exciting every day. In some ways, it’s the law career I never had.”
Juliet Day, a July 2022 Data Science Live graduate, began her career working in law. A pandemic, baking business, and bootcamp later, she’s thriving in tech as a Data Scientist.
Background In Law
Growing up, Juliet recalls always wanting to be a lawyer, based on her parent’s backgrounds in law and “a lot” of Law and Order. This interest informed her choice of major in university and early career.
“I majored in Criminal Justice in college and then started working as a paralegal for a law firm in NYC,” she said. “But, I realized pretty quickly that was not what I wanted to do as a career.”
She set her eyes next on the culinary field. Unfortunately, the pandemic had other plans.
“I’d enrolled in a dual business management and pastry program at the Institute of Culinary Education, set to start in March of 2020. Unfortunately, because of Covid, the business management program was taught virtually and the pastry program was indefinitely postponed.”
With learning restricted to online and NYC effectively shutting down, Juliet decided to retreat to her parent’s home and wait for the pandemic to blow over. Like many, what she thought would be a couple of weeks stretched far longer, giving her plenty of time to explore her new culinary business ambitions.
“I’d launched a baking business, initially from [my parent’s] home and later from a shared commercial kitchen. I started selling scones on Etsy and built the business for about a year and a half. I set up a website that allowed me to ship all over the country and also sold to 8 farm stands and wholesale shops near my parent’s home.”
Deciding On Data
For most people, this is where the story would end – successfully pivoting from Law into a confectionary business owner, and riding off into the sunset, scones in hand. But, by January 2022, Juliet had realized the limitations imposed on her business’ growth caused by the pandemic wouldn’t be going away.
“Scaling my business the way I wanted to would be close to impossible with the labor shortages, supply chain issues, and all the other problems in the food industry caused by Covid,” she explained. “So, I decided to shut down my business.”
With her second career concluded, Juliet got to work planning her next move. Reflecting on the previous two years she spent building a baking business, she realized that her third career had been there all along – data.
“I realized that while I started my business because of my love of baking, what I really loved was being able to analyze my data with (at the time) my limited Excel knowledge,” she recalled. “I found it fascinating how I could make decisions about my business based on the data I had and that inspired me to want to expand my data analytics skills and dive into this career path.”
Related Reading: Juliet’s blog on using data science in her baking business.
Flatiron School Experience
Having decided to pursue data science, Juliet got to work on acquiring the skills she would need to work professionally in the field. After researching a variety of programs in the New York City area, she settled on Flatiron School’s full-time Data Science Live program.
“I knew several people who went through the program and I had heard great things,” she said. “My primary goal was to gain the technical skills required to get a first job in tech and to cultivate the mindset needed for this field.”
While she’d initially planned to attend classes in person, circumstances again threw a wrench in her plans. Pivoting to remote learning again, Juliet adapted swiftly.
“Initially, I was disappointed by this change [to remote], but it was a rewarding experience even in a remote setting.”
Students in the Data Science Live program commit to an accelerated pace, learning Monday through Friday for 15 weeks straight – a daunting workload to adapt to.
“There’s a lot of material taught in a very short period of time, and especially at the beginning when everything was so new, it was hard to keep up.”
Despite the challenge of learning at such a fast pace, Juliet persisted and acquired the technical skills she’d set out to, demonstrated by her final capstone project.
“For my capstone project, I analyzed OpenTable’s data to compare the number of restaurant reservations in Democratic vs Republican cities during and since COVID-19. I used Timeseries to show how politics impacted both the restaurant industry’s outcome as well as the health outcome for various cities.”
Related Reading: Juliet’s capstone project on GitHub.
Working In The Field
Juliet graduated from Flatiron School in July 2022. By October of that same year, she’d landed her first role as a Data Consultant.
“My career coach was helpful, and I ended up getting my job through The Flatiron School’s career partnership team who recommended I apply for the position.”
More than a year into her third career, Juliet reports a positive experience that allows her to tie in her previous ventures.
“I work for GCOM Software and consult for the IRS in identity theft prevention where I am able to combine my criminal justice background with data,” she explained. “I’ve been here for over a year and I still love it and find it exciting every day. In some ways, it’s the law career I never had.”
While she can’t share much about her current work with the IRS, Juliet says that the learning experience she had at Flatiron School prepared her to adapt to new languages with ease.
“A large majority of my job has been SQL-based. I’ve become much stronger in SQL in a short period of time and am proud of how I have used the skills I learned at The Flatiron to learn a new coding language on the job.”
Reflecting On The Journey
Looking back on the path she took to Data Science, Juliet is acutely aware of the importance of data in just about every industry and recommends targeting industries you’ll truly enjoy working in.
“Find a job in tech within an industry you’re passionate about. Whether that’s medicine or sports or food or criminal justice, data and the tech industry as a whole is integrated in almost every company, and working for an industry you’re interested in makes all the difference.”
She’s also realized the benefits of a growth mindset, and that a career in tech means lifelong learning.
“On the first day of the program, my instructor told us that the coding language we would use in a job five years from now doesn’t exist yet,” she recalled. “Her goal was to teach us how to learn new coding languages so that we could continue learning as technology changes (at the rapid rate it currently is). That thought has stayed with me: I need to keep learning and keep my skills up to date.”
Advice To Current Students
As for her suggestions to other students pursuing a bootcamp experience, Juliet’s guidance is practical – no matter what, persevere.
“Hang in there! For anyone who’s tried Duolingo, you know that learning a new language is hard and most people quit at some point and never go back. You’re learning a new language, and normally several of them, in 15 weeks, and it’s not going to all make sense immediately. Go to your instructors, classmates, and the immense number of free online resources available.”
She also cautions over-reliance on Ai technologies to breeze through the program.
“Don’t just rely on ChatGTP while in the program. It’s not always accurate and seems to be getting less accurate instead of more! So while it can be a helpful resource, you need to be able to understand the answer it is giving you to make sure it’s what you were looking for and can explain the code you used, should someone ask.”
Ready For A Change, Just Like Juliet Day?
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Read more stories about successful career changes on the Flatiron School blog.
Disclaimer: The information in this blog is current as of February 1, 2024. Current policies, offerings, procedures, and programs may differ.
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