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No Experience Required: Mastering Data Analysis Tools at SU

January 08, 2021
Three Seattle University MSBA candidate students

When Schyuler Lujan looked at the job postings that interested her, they all seemed to require programming skills. So, as she researched graduate programs, she knew she needed one with a thoughtful mission, a strong sense of community—and offered coding 101.

“It was very important to me when I was looking for an analytics program that I would actually learn how to code, because I had heard from some people in other programs that they were looking to better manage an analytics team,” Lujan said. “That's very different from wanting to do the analytics work yourself.”

In the Online MS in Business Analytics at Seattle University, many students enter with a feeling of trepidation about their first time working with data analytics tools. Much like Lujan though, they recognize the value those same programs will add to their careers.

That’s why before coursework begins, all MSBA students are required to take an online Python and R prep course. From downloading Python and R to learning the basics, this six-hour course helps students understand the two programming languages most used in the MSBA program.

“It's really just to just get our feet wet—for people like me who had no idea that Python or R even existed,” she explained.

Now well into the Seattle U program, Lujan has used these data analysis tools in class and in the real world. She’s also been able to relate those experiences as she interviews for business analytics internships.

“That was really cool to take a step back and realize how far I'd come,” she said. “I know I still have a long way to go. There's always so much to learn, but it feels very gratifying to realize that I have learned enough so far that I can start to think about my own data projects and take them from start to finish.”

Tools and Support for Success

John Nguyen knew he wanted to pursue his master’s, but he wasn’t sure what he wanted to study. Knowing he wanted to build off of his undergraduate in business administration, he was considering fields like human resources or accounting. His sister was the one who encouraged him to look into business analytics, because in her own career at Amazon, she saw a growing need for trained specialists.

“It's like a puzzle,” Nguyen said. “You give me a whole jumbled set of data, and now I'm going to take my time figuring out how it's supposed to be.”

It’s been a few years since Nguyen was last in school, so his first semester was tough. He found the regular, thoughtful feedback from his instructors was key in helping him understand where he was succeeding and what he needed to focus on more. Semester after semester, as his comfort level within the program grew, he felt the coursework was becoming easier.

However, it took a lot of work, Nguyen admits.

“I'm realizing now why Seattle University has a good reputation,” Nguyen said. “You don't produce knowledgeable, competent students without the amount of work that is requested. I know the work that they are asking me to do and the expectation that they have is the reason why I will graduate qualified. I know that. I am proud of the work that I am doing.”

Seeing the Difference

Julius Giron didn’t have a background in analytics, and it gave him pause when he was considering applying to the online MSBA program. However, when Giron began speaking with Admissions Advisors and instructors, he was assured his inexperience in coding would not hold him back.

“The only technical or statistics experience I had was doing some Six Sigma projects, so that was a little bit unnerving for me at the beginning,” Giron said. “I thought, ‘Well, here is a guy who's been in business, leading teams—and gets into a program that involves not only statistics, but it also involves coding and working with tools in business analytics."

Giron can’t believe how far he’s come in a year. Today, he can confidently call himself a programmer comfortable in both R and Python.

“We've not only covered statistics, data visualization, data management and data mining, but we're working on optimization right now,” Giron said. “These are all areas that I was unaware of, unskilled in, and now I can actually formulate business problems, look for solutions, know what I'm looking for, and be able to translate that.”

Giron also noticed the amount of support the business analytics faculty gave, especially when he spent several weeks recovering from COVID-19 early in the pandemic.

“I saw instructors help other students who were being challenged and basically taking them by the hand to make sure that they cross the finish line of that term,” Giron said. “That's been definitely encouraging to see.”

From process analysis to data visualization, Giron’s already been able to bring a lot of what he’s learned into his role as owner of Northwest Languages, a translation and interpreting services provider. He knows that the skills he’s learned in data-driven decision-making will help him wherever his career takes him, whether it's his own business or another company.

“That's what's wonderful about the Seattle University program,” he said. “They teach you from the ground up. The program is geared so that it assumes that you don't have that technical background, and it's not as daunting as it seems at first.”

Master today’s data analytics tools.

In the Online MSBA program at Seattle University, students like Giron, Schyuler, and Nguyen have gained the skills to enter a growing and important facet of business strategy. Data is changing nearly every industry, and while experienced data programmers are needed, many companies need professionals who know how to communicate their findings. That’s why the coursework at Seattle U is focused on skilled data translation.

Explore how the curriculum in our Online MSBA program prepares students for successful careers, and learn about the Python and R programming prep course, your first introduction to data analytics tools.