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CareerHacker Data Analyst Mentorship Founder Chris Shupe Answers Our Career Questions

Chris Shupe is a 33 year old YouTuber, author, career coach, and founder of the CareerHacker Data Analyst Mentorship program. His mission is to help people who are dissatisfied with their careers to secure jobs with more freedom, better salaries, and more fulfillment. In his Data Analyst program, he works directly with clients to learn the skills they need to become data analysts, some clever strategies for proving their skills to employers, and ultimately how to get hired in their first data analyst job as fast as possible. As the program has grown, Chris says he hears many people asking the same questions. I decided to have him answer the most common questions–as well as a few of my own.

Does your program have a guarantee?

Chris Shupe: Yes we do, but our guarantee is a little different than what most other programs offer. It’s common in this industry to see guarantees of “you don’t pay anything until after you have a job”. Which SOUNDS great, but in reality it’s very misleading. What these companies are doing is having their clients take out a loan from a separate finance company to pay for the program fee. The person doesn’t have to start paying back the loan for six months, which is hypothetically enough time to go through the program and get a job. And if the person DOESN’T get a job, they can apply to get their fee refunded. The only problem is, they have so many “qualifications” and “eligibility requirements” in the fine print that actually getting a refund is near impossible.

We think this is dishonest and unhelpful, so we don’t offer that sort of guarantee. Instead, our guarantee is that we will continue working with you until get hired at your first data analyst job, as long as it takes, at no extra charge. We don’t direct our guarantee to people who are thinking “what if it doesn’t work?” before they even get started. In my experience, people who think that way are already setting themselves up for failure, and those are not the sort of people we’re interested in working with. Instead, we look for people who believe they are going to be successful, and are committed to doing whatever it takes to make it happen. Those are the kind of people who get results. And as their partner, we make the same commitment. We will do whatever it takes to get them across the finish line.

Do I need to be good at mathematics, given I’d be working with numbers?

Chris Shupe: Yes and no. Data analytics does require math, but it’s really a different skill than the math you learned in school. As a data analyst, the math is all done for you by a computer, so you don’t actually have to calculate anything yourself. You do, however, need to understand how basic calculations work in order to be able to tell the computer what to do. These are almost always very basic calculations. For example, you might need to tell the computer to divide Field A by Field B to get a percentage. Basic fractions and percentages is usually about as complicated as it gets.

What experience is required?

Chris Shupe: That depends on the job, but all data analysts start our careers with no experience. And very few data analysts have a college degree that’s related to analytics, since it’s a relatively new field and university programs are generally about 20 years out of date at any given time. That said, there are strategic ways to “create” experience and prove your value to employers before you have any formal job experience. This is something we go over in great detail in the CareerHacker Data Analyst Mentorship program.

What salary or benefits can I expect after your program?

Chris Shupe: This will depend somewhat on where you live and what your background is, but for new data analysts in the US and Canada, we target a $60,000 starting salary with full health insurance, paid time off, and retirement savings plan. After five years working as a data analyst, it’s common to be making $100,000 or more.

What makes you different from other programs teaching data analysis?

Chris Shupe: There are quite a few differences, but I think the biggest one is that while most programs focus on teaching you skills, our focus is on getting you hired. Of course, learning the skills is part of the process of getting hired, but it’s not the only part. Instead of loading you with month and months of skills training, our approach is to teach you the basic skills you need as quickly as possible, then show you innovative ways to prove those skills to employers. We take this approach to help you write your resume, apply for jobs, prepare you to wow employers in job interviews, negotiate a great salary, and get hired.

Me: What’s your ‘CareerHacker’ movement?

Chris Shupe: The CareerHacker movement is a new way of looking at your career. Most people take whatever career happens to get handed to them by life. That may be going to college and getting an office job, going into the trades, going into the military, taking over the family business, etc. And most people end up unhappy with their careers. That’s to be expected, because they never chose for themselves. They took the careers that other people pushed on them. CareerHackers are people who do the opposite. Maybe we took the career that was pushed on us in the past, but we eventually reach the point where we decide to determine our own career path based on what we actually want. So we find what we want, we plan out the steps necessary to get there, and then we do it. We don’t need anybody’s permission (which is really what a college degree is at the most fundamental level), and we don’t make excuses. If we don’t know how to do something, we learn. If we run into challenges, we find ways to overcome them. We keep going until we succeed. That’s what it means to be a CareerHacker.

Me: What do you do outside of coaching? Hobbies, for example?

Chris Shupe: I read a lot. I like to go boating. I play guitar. I like to travel. Those are a few of my favorites.

Me: Why is now the time for your program to exist?

Chris Shupe: Because the market is so amazing for data analysts. If you’re curious, do a Google search for the term “data skills gap”. You’ll find a ton of companies and business magazines basically freaking out about how much they need people with data skills, and how few people have those skills. At the same time most job fields are shrinking due to automation and outsourcing, data analytics is growing at the speed of light. Every day there’s more data, and there’s a huge shortage of people with the skills to manage that data. If you can become one of those people, you will have a bright future ahead of you. We help people take advantage of this unprecedented opportunity.

Me: What’s most exciting about your traction to date?

Chris Shupe: Our growth has been amazing! I think the most exciting thing for me is watching people who used to be totally jaded and stuck in a job they hate completely turn their lives around as soon as we give them an actionable path to do it. I think a lot of people know they could be doing better than the career they’re stuck in, but they just don’t know how. It’s very satisfying for me to see how excited people are to learn as soon as we give them the path to follow. It gives me hope that maybe all the people who are left behind by society could leave happy and successful lives if only they’re given the proper guidance.

Me: Where do you see the program’s status by the end of 2022?

Chris Shupe: Bigger and better. I’m constantly taking clients’ feedback and making the program better. I’m working on some pretty exciting stuff right now, particularly around the psychology of the program. That’s big, since it’s hard to stay motivated when you’re doing something completely new. So I’ve got a bunch of ideas to help keep people motivated to push ahead until they find the success they’re looking for. I also plan to increase the size of the program. I can only take a small number of students at a time right now, since I’m doing all of the coaching and support myself. I expect by the end of 2022 I’ll have a team of coaches who can help me provide the same high level of personal service to a larger number of students.

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