Big Data Sparks Big Plans for Immersive Program at General Assembly Atlanta

If data is currency for the Information Age, then those who can navigate the rising tide of analytics at companies stand ready to cash in on their skills. But first they have to acquire those skills, and that’s where General Assembly comes in.

“There are so many data jobs available right now, because companies see this as a place where they need to invest, not even knowing what the potential benefits are, but knowing that they need someone to figure out what the data is telling them and how to make smarter decisions from it,” General Assembly Atlanta regional director Peter Franconi told Hypepotamus.

To that end, beginning on June 6, GA Atlanta will launch a 12-week, full-time Data Science Immersive course at their Ponce City Market location for those who want to get deeper into analytics and business intelligence. Students will take on topics including machine learning, relational databases, Python, predictive modeling techniques, and visualization/reporting.

General Assembly’s Atlanta location is busy enough with existing courses that have taught web development, user experience and marketing to local IT professionals since it launched in September 2014 (Franconi says GA has graduated more than 300 part-time and full-time students since then, and expects 700-800 this year.) The demand for data wranglers became clear about six months ago, when GA launched a part-time analytics course. “It’s just been growing like wildfire.”

ga-assembly general-assembly-tableThat led GA to consider the needs of the two groups of professionals asking about data sciences; those who may have some previous experience and want to take their careers to the next level, and those who “maybe don’t have anything to do with data, but have their own personal pursuits or have a spark and really want to go to work for a company as part of a business intelligence team – building dashboards, building different analytics tools.”

Who’s asking for IT professionals with those data skills? Just about everybody in Atlanta’s Fortune 500 cluster of legacy companies, Franconi said, especially those that are building out their mobile and e-commerce strategies and find themselves drowning in a stream of potentially valuable data that could tell them more about customer buying habits.

“It’s such a challenge for companies to kind of parse through and figure out the important key performance indicators, and what they should be tracking, and the plethora of data that’s available makes that challenging because you can scrutinize at such a small level that you can oftentimes miss the larger overarching objectives,” he said. “So, part of what this course teaches you is not just what to do, but to think through the right approach.”

Most of those now attending full and part-time courses at General Assembly could end up  making anywhere between $50,000-$75,000 in their jobs. “I think (data) analysts will kind of be in that range,” Franconi said. “If you have 2-3 years of analyst experience already under your belt and you’re really transitioning to a data scientist job, you would potentially be above that spectrum. It depends on your prior experience.”

Franconi added that what makes General Assembly different from other groups offering bootcamp-style instruction, as well as academic institutions, is that his organization also provides job search resources and networking opportunities. GA has sent graduates to work for Home Depot, Turner and other Atlanta companies.  The placement rates for all 15 GA locations around the world stand at 90 percent job placement in 120 days and 99 percent within six months. Atlanta actually exceeds those rates, Franconi said.

General Assembly is zeroing in on selecting instructors for the Data Science Immersive course.  It has partnered with Seattle-based Tableau, a maker of data visualization products, for the course. Cost is $14,500, and there are payment plans and financial help available. More information, along with applications and syllabus requests are available here.

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[Photo Credit: General Assembly]