Before coming to Galvanize, I traveled for like six months. I was working as a sales operations manager at an event app startup. There had been a bunch of changes at the company, as with any young tech company. When I joined it was 20 to 25 people, and when I left it was more than a hundred. The company had been evolving over time, and I didn’t necessarily evolve with it. So I took some time off to travel.
I quit my job and a few days later went up and did the Tahoe Rim Trail, which is a 180 mile trail that follows the mountain ridge around town. Then I flew to Europe, and later went to Costa Rica. I kind of went all over the place, just not having screen-time for a few months.
I was on a really back part of the Tahoe Rim Trail. Most of it is pretty well-hiked, but with so many miles, some of it isn’t very well-maintained. We came across a bear and her two cubs, and had a pretty close encounter. We ended up singing a song to her. We’d met some Pacific Crest Trail hikers the day before, and they told us to sing if we saw a bear. Prey runs away, and predators will growl and snarl, but nothing really sings. I’m also a musician, so we sang “Some Nights” by Fun.
I see data science as an extension of what I was doing before. After majoring in physics in college, I went into consulting, and there I quickly became “the Excel guy.” Then when I joined the event startup, we didn’t have a strategy department, so I was doing all sorts of strategy on top of Excel work. I thought: “Wouldn’t I be better at this if I had a trained skill set in it?” Rather than just thinking “I’m good at numbers because I took physics in college.” Plus I wanted to know Python. I had no coding experience coming in, and Python is way more powerful than anything I could do with Excel. And way more fun doing it.
In the short term, I’m hoping to get a startup job—somewhere I can get on a data science team. In the long run, I think it’ll set me up well for a PhD in economics.
All my heroes are economists. Paul Krugman. Bernie Sanders. Robert Reich—he’s actually not an economist, he’s a public policy expert, but he’s done a ton of economic work. He’s always writing about economics and income inequality. I read a lot of sci-fi, but you don’t aspire to be an astronaut, or at least I’m not going to be. But everything else that I read is generally politically oriented, and I’m much more interested in the economic side.
I tried for a while, while I was on my vacation, to make it as a musician. I play guitar and I sing. It’s very hard, when you live in SoMa, to make it as a musician. But I go out a few times a week and play. I call myself a mixture of modern singer-songwriter, with ’90s rock, with ’80s hair metal.
–Joel Shuman, Galvanize Data Science Immersive graduate in San Francisco, California. You can find him on LinkedIn.
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