Ernie: My Data Analyst Career Journey

Ernie: My Data Analyst Career Journey

Today, we're bringing you an interview with Ernie, who works in clinical research - sharing his data analyst career journey with us, and helpful tips for those looking for their first data analyst role

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Hi Ernie! I'm super pumped to feature you on Please introduce yourself to our readers.

Hi Alex, I'm Ernie! I live in Texas and work in clinical research.

Please share with us your current Data Analyst role, and what your day to day looks like.

Currently, I am a Clinical Data Manager for a pharma/biotech company. I started out working as a Clinical Data Associate, but was able to work my way through the ranks from Associate, to Analyst, and finally to Manager. My day to day consists of database construction, maintenance, and preparing reports and data analyses of our studies, to later be reviewed by the FDA.

Can you share with us how you entered the data analytics industry, and tell us about your first data analyst role?

Before I worked in the data sector of clinical research, I was doing quality control for ethical research review boards, and before that was working hands-on with patients collecting study data. My first data-driven role was a Clinical Data Associate, where I was doing database upkeep. Basically maintaining a clinical research database and doing data cleaning and prep. After I exhibited a strong ability to manipulate data in Python, I was promoted to Analyst, and later Manager. Most of my roles consist of the production of data reports to be used by different departments in our company, or for the regulatory side.

What is it that you're personally finding most exciting about being a data analyst?

The most exciting part of working in Data Analytics for me is its versatility. You can use Data Analytics for every aspect of your life. From your career, to home-buying, to personal projects, being able to manipulate data and find trends is an incredibly handy tool.

How did you start improving your skillset as a data analyst? What are you currently doing to keep up with the ever changing data analytics industry?

I started with college coursework in Data Analytics. After that, most of what I learn is on an as-needed basis. I will have a project at work and realize I'm doing it inefficiently, so off to YouTube I go! It's not too much work to keep up with the changing industry. I haven't been in the industry long enough to see that much change in my field.

Can you share what factors are most important to you in a data-focused career and why? Do you have a vision of what you'd like your career growth to look like?

In my experience, one of the most important factors in a data-focused career is the ability to communicate with teams. When verbally describing reports, or large datasets, it is very difficult to conceptualize what someone might want. Don't be afraid to make mock reports and analyses just to make sure you're on the same page with the person requesting analyses. Often times, I will see coworkers spend hours or days on projects, only to realize most of it is incorrect due to a miscommunication from the start. Ask questions, give examples, and verify intent!

Something that a lot of people are wondering and asking about - what recommendations would you give to someone who is looking to join the data industry and get their first full-time data analyst position?

The advice I'd give to someone trying to get into the industry is: don't overestimate your competition. Many people just assume everyone else is an expert. They're not! I've seen people in high level data roles that are only just starting to learn how to program! Most of what I use daily could be learned on the job as you go, without much prior knowledge.

Anything you'd like to highlight, or add?

Nothing really specific I'd like to add. Love your website, hope it's a huge success!

Extra one, out of curiosity if you have an opinion on this - With the rise of ChatGPT / Bard, do you see AI being a risk to data analysts?

AI will probably change the future of many industries. I think anyone trying to estimate how is just wildly speculating. Time will tell!