Eric Carpenter’s Journey to Tessellation: From Slopes to Statistics
When your ambition is stronger than your complacency, personal growth can begin. My journey into data, and ultimately to Tessellation, started at these crossroads. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been lucky enough to have skis attached to my feet. I recall my first day on the ski hill at Alpine Valley in Southeastern Wisconsin starting with tears on the chairlift and ending with a refusal to leave, even after the lift stopped running and the runs had iced over. I had a tremendous passion for the sport and that passion prompted me to pack my things and move out to Telluride, CO. I was ambitious in my pursuit of outdoor adventure. I found great satisfaction in the challenge of skiing a technical line or climbing a difficult rock face – a disposition that would fuel my career. A career that started in the great outdoors and would transition into the wonderful world of data.
I spent the first 8 years of my career in the outdoor industry beginning in ski specialty retail as a custom ski boot fitter and ending as a brand strategist and territory sales manager for 7 international brands. The perks were nice. I was able to ski all over the United States and Europe and meet some of the world’s best skiers in the process. As hard as it is to believe, however, a career behind the scenes of action sports became boring. I felt I wasn’t challenging myself. I was hitting a ceiling. I had become complacent and I was rarely participating in the activities I loved, even while working in the heart of the industry and living in the outdoor epicenter of the US. I expected more from myself than selling outdoor gear to outdoor retailers and after a hard look in the mirror – I had settled on the fact that I needed a change. I needed to rekindle my passion for challenges. I needed a new adventure.
Transition into Data Analytics
Ultimately, my career transition into data started from a place of personal satisfaction. I felt as though our operation was relying too heavily on our assumptions of the industry and could benefit from better decision-making through data. I had always been strong in math, so I decided to enroll in a business analytics certificate program through the University of Pennsylvania. What I didn’t expect was how obsessed I would become in working with data. I loved it. It was challenging, it was insightful, and I could argue about anything objectively as long as I had the data. I knew it was what I wanted to do with my career which forced a truly difficult decision; continue working at a good-paying sales job, unfulfilled and unhappy, in an industry I knew very well or take a step back and take a shot at something I had a clear and genuine interest in, but with no prior knowledge. The adventurer in me decided on the latter, and I’ll let you in on a little secret… it was worth it! I moved back to the Midwest and began managing my local ski shop while I developed the necessary statistics, programming, and data skills until I felt ready to start applying for tech jobs.
I’ll save the reader the details of upskilling, project building, and applying for jobs. All the reader needs to understand is that the transition didn’t come without some very difficult moments of doubt, rejection, and uncertainty. Fast forward to today, I couldn’t be happier with my choice. I’m in my first month as a data analyst at Tessellation and in my first year of the Masters in Data Science program at Northwestern University. It didn’t happen because of magic or because I’m a MacArthur Fellow. I was interested and I was willing to work hard.
Ultimately, I got in touch with Tessellation because I continually engaged in content that was valuable to my growth, much of which came from Tessellation and Tessellation consultant, Michael Green. By keeping my ear to the ground and participating in the data community, I was able to land a dream job for this point in my career after Michael and I had exchanged messages on LinkedIn. The old adages of networking and engaging had proven themselves and I had finally crossed that threshold into a career in data. But that’s all it is, a threshold. It’s just the beginning. Working in the field of data science is being in a state of perpetual growth. The willingness to learn, to engineer solutions, and keep your finger on the pulse are all traits that make data professionals so special and I couldn’t have asked for a better group of colleagues to work and grow with than the team at Tessellation and Data Coach. Every day brings new challenges, but that was the idea, right? It was exactly what I was asking for. Tessellation and Data Coach have the ability to enable data aspirations like mine and many others and I couldn’t be more grateful.
It’s Never Too Late
So, what’s the point of my bio? It’s that I’m a normal guy who wanted more out of his career. The point is you can wake up on any given day and do whatever you want. It doesn’t matter where you’re coming from, if you have aspirations to do something else – you should pursue just that. You have the power to manifest a different version of yourself. All it takes is hard work and a genuine interest for what makes you tick. Far too often we make decisions based on fear; in my case, it was leaving a steady job to pursue a career in data or telling myself “it’s too late for me to change careers now”. Those are fears disguised as practicality. So if I can offer one piece of advice to anyone looking to transition their career into data (or anything for that matter), it would be to choose your ambitions over your complacencies. Choose love over fear. You’ll be surprised where you end up.
Want to Learn More?
Want to learn more about how I made my transition into the data analytics industry? Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn!
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