From Content Creator to Tessellation: Aidan Bramel

Growing up in Fargo, North Dakota with a software engineer as a father, I knew two things: 1) I am leaving North Dakota as soon as possible, and 2) I will never work in technology, as I am blazing my own path and not following in my dad’s. 50% is not the best test score, but I’m happy to have been wrong about one of those.

My first memorable experience with technology was in the fifth grade on a website called Neopets, on which you create a profile, referred to as a “lookie,” and could adopt up to four mythical pets. The user and each pet all had webpages specifically dedicated to them, and you could edit the look and feel of these pages to your liking using HTML/CSS. Discovering that I could bend the pages to my will, just by learning a few lines of HTML, soon had me drunk on power.

It wasn’t long before I had converted the entirety of my pet’s pages to host “Aidan’s Lookies,” a petpage on which I offered a variety of layouts to make your Neopets profile look as stylish as a child with access to Google could make them. When my father caught wind of his entrepreneurial fifth grader taking after him, he jumped for joy and tried to contribute. Naturally, I recoiled at the offer, and Aidan’s Lookies was shut down for good. Why would he think I wanted to learn more about programming? Ridiculous.

The foreshadowing toward my career in analytics continued in my next hobby-turned-occupation: YouTube Content Creator. On the surface of my videos, I made (subjectively) humorous commentary on my day, edited goofy effects and zooms, and collaborated with fellow YouTubers on joint videos. However, on the back-end, I was using YouTube’s analytic insights to understand peak times for publishing, monitor viewing patterns to correlate timestamps to jokes and stories that did or didn’t land, and keep my eyes on keywords and tags that promoted higher viewership.

Skyping into a UNC-Chapel Hill "Personal Branding" lecture.

 

Skyping into a UNC-Chapel Hill “Personal Branding on the Internet” lecture

Using these tactics, I was able to amass a decent following and a gig making money on my content through the YouTube Partnership Program. I even made a three-second appearance on Nickelodeon, got to work with Nintendo on a brand deal, and presented as a guest speaker in a college lecture on personal branding on the internet. Imagine telling your high school calculus teacher that you had to leave class early to do a Q&A with a college professor in North Carolina.

This really should have been that point that I put pride aside and realized that my career goals should be aligned with my technically-inclined set of interests; all of the signs were there. Instead, I went to the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management thinking I would be majoring in Human Resources and Entrepreneurial Management.

Shortly into college, my enthusiasm for YouTube had died down and my HR classes didn’t seem to be a fit. Luckily, I ended up stumbling upon Carlson’s introductory programming class for the Management Information Systems (MIS) major. I took this class with the expectation of hating it; afterall, that was my dad’s thing, so it couldn’t be mine. However, to my great disappointment, I was overwhelmed by how much I enjoyed and looked forward to attending, doing homework for, and learning in this class. In fact, I loved this class so much that I became a Teaching Assistant, changed my major to MIS, and used nearly every remaining elective credit I had on classes in the Computer Science department. Better late than never, right?

 

Graduating from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities with a degree in Management Information Systems

My MIS degree landed me a job as a Business Systems Analyst at a global manufacturing conglomerate that happened to have a huge Tableau Server environment. The self-service analytics team who had implemented Tableau needed someone to learn how to effectively deploy Alteryx Server. I had never heard of Alteryx before this point, but was quickly impressed by all of the complex issues you could solve with a tool so simple to use. As my curiosity for both Tableau and Alteryx grew, so did my responsibilities on both servers. Soon, I was getting involved in the local Minneapolis SSA community user groups to see more use cases, get to know the products better, and apply my learnings to my own environment.

 

Working at Honeywell as a Business Systems Analyst on the Self-Service Analytics team.

Shortly after discovering the Minneapolis community, I was connected with Tessellation on an opportunity to do what I was already having a blast doing, but see even more use cases across industries, touch multiple analytic environments, and expand my knowledge- all in a startup atmosphere. Imagine the entrepreneurial fifth grader in me squealing.

The opportunity to work at Tessellation is a culmination of all the things childhood Aidan both embraced and pretended not to enjoy. I get to continue using my creative side, though with more emphasis on dashboards and less on imaginary pet pages and YouTube videos. Now, I can do this while leveraging the long-suppressed love for data analysis and technical problem solving.

When I’m not geeking out on analytic enablement, I enjoy cooking and baking, visiting breweries, taking spin classes, trying to get cast on “Survivor”, and talking about my Nespresso.

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