In the clip, she starts by talking about the job that made her think, I really gotta make more money. "When I was making $28k a year, I was working as a biomedical researcher in a basement lab that had no windows. I was working long hours, the job wasn't very rewarding, and obviously, the pay wasn't great. In 2018, I decided I had enough, and I started looking for other jobs."
But, she did something a little bit different during this job search. "I even applied to jobs I wasn't qualified for and ended up landing one of those as a data analytics associate at a consulting company. This was mostly doing things in Excel and making PowerPoints. It was still really long hours. It paid $70k, but I wasn't liking it very much."
So, before her next job search, she taught herself a new skill online. "I again applied to jobs I wasn't really qualified for and ended up landing a job as the data analyst at Comcast. This job paid $90k, and the reason I got it is because I taught myself SQL [Structured Query Language, a programming language used in database management] over a matter of a couple of weeks using a website called Khan Academy, and the job used SQL during the interview process. I talked to them about the SQL projects I had done, and they ended up offering me the position. So, at that point, I had officially broken into tech as a real data analyst, and I was making $90k."
Finally, she was able to advance in that role and was eventually headhunted for an even higher salary. "About a year and a half later, I got a promotion to manager and started making $104k, so I had broken six figures. Throughout that time, I kept my LinkedIn updated, and about a year later, a recruiter from AT&T reached out to me about a job that would pay $158k. I went through the interview process and eventually got the offer in December 2021. So, I was making $28k in mid-2018, and by the end of 2021, I was making $158k. This is all because I put myself out there and applied to jobs that I didn't really feel like I was qualified for but that I knew I could handle, and most importantly, by teaching myself data analytics online."
In the comments, people are taking inspiration from her story, asking questions, and offering advice and encouragement.
One commenter asked, "With the surge of people wanting to break into tech and the recession, do you think this path is still as simple to achieve compared to 3 years ago?" In response, Charlotte cites the World Economic Forum Future of Jobs Report which forecasts increasing demand for several jobs in tech, including data analysts.
To learn more about her story, I reached out to Charlotte via email. She said that seeing some data about how men and women tend to approach job applications completely changed the way she applies for new roles. "I've seen statistics saying that women typically only apply for jobs when they're 100% qualified, and men apply when they're 60% qualified. I think we should all be aiming closer to that 60%."
She went on to explain, "When new jobs are posted, it's because a company has the budget for a new hire, and that budget is usually a range based on experience and qualifications. So, if a company budgeted $70k-$90k for a job, someone who is 100% qualified could get a $90k salary offer, and someone who is 60% qualified could get a $70k offer. Then, after one or two years, you can leverage your experience at the $70k job to get a $90k job."
But, she says that teaching herself SQL made the biggest difference in her earning potential. "I taught myself SQL (which data analysts use to select and manipulate data) in a matter of weeks using free online resources, and then, I applied for entry level jobs that 'required' one to two years of SQL experience. During interviews, I walked hiring managers through the projects I had done to prove that I'd be able to do the job, too. I got some rejections, which is expected, but it only takes one job offer to break into tech. Just from learning SQL, I ended up getting a $90k salary offer at a Fortune 500 company, and I just kept going up from there."
Though self-guided learning can be a challenge, Charlotte says that she was determined to make it work. "I was at my breaking point and knew I needed to make a change. I couldn't go on working long hours for low pay. The hardest part about self-guided learning was figuring out the order to do things in and how to create projects to show off my skills." To help others who want to try breaking into tech like she did, Charlotte has put all her favorite free resources and résumé template together here.
And she wants people to know that you don't necessarily need a degree to land a job in tech. "Since I've been teaching others how to break into tech with data analytics, I've seen dozens of my students do it without degrees, including a truck driver, retail worker, hair stylist, virtual assistant, and even a stay at home mom. The good news about breaking into tech is that many hiring managers in tech don't care about which degrees or certifications you do or don't have; they care about whether you'll be able to do the job."
She also recommends looking at ways that your current job intersects with the job you want. "Look up data analytics job postings and figure out how to explain your current job responsibilities using the keywords in the job postings. For example, a teacher who helps with curriculum development could say, 'I partner with leadership to define key learning metrics,' which explains the same task, but shows recruiters and hiring managers that you speak the language."
Finally, Charlotte says, "Anyone can break into tech. The catch is that you have to try, and you have to keep trying until it works. You'll start to see each job interview as free practice, so even if you don't land that job, you'll know you're one step closer. Even if you don't meet all the job requirements, always apply anyway. You'll get ghosted, and you'll get rejections, but it only takes one offer to change your life."