Finance Professional Masters Data Crunching Skills at UCSC Extension


- Mark Chang

Term : November, 2016
Department : Engineering
Program : Database and Data Analytics

When Mark Chang first noticed UCSC Extension’s brochure for Database and Data Analytics, he said it was “love at first sight.” He had recently completed his master’s in finance and was looking for a way to stand out in a competitive field. He saw database administration and analytics as effective ways for a business professional to efficiently interpret and use data. While completing his certificate, he gained practical experience as an intern that he has been able to apply to his current position as an application analyst at Herbalife Shanghai.

Where did you first hear about UCSC Silicon Valley Extension?

I have a master's in finance and I'm willing to distinguish myself from other financial professionals. I had heard that most of the top analysts in huge investment banks like Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan have science backgrounds in fields like physics or math. I was thinking I couldn't compete with them if I didn’t develop my own uniqueness. Thus after finishing my master's, I came to the Bay Area to search for new opportunities. I felt that maybe it was great to have a technical background and meld it with my business background.

The first time I stepped into UCSC Extension’s building, I saw a bunch of pamphlets introducing each program. Database and Data Analytics was "love at first sight." I believe it's a good gateway for me to access the world of data; finance is all about data. It's not too technical to study and useful. Data knowledge perfectly melds with my finance knowledge. The program helped me increase my knowledge of databases and networks. The certificate program brings more possibilities and opportunities to my career.

What were you hoping to get from your courses or program?

I was hoping to learn real skills on data analytics and database administration in order to enhance my analytical abilities.

What practical skills or knowledge did you get from your courses?

I learned Python basics, knowledge about Big Data, SQL theories and NoSQL databases, and data analysis tools like the R language.

 Did you complete any interesting or exciting class projects? If so, what did you learn from them?

 I did several projects using R on data analysis and machine learning, which is the first time that I have encountered algorithms that predict things. It was really amazing.

 How did you apply your skills at your internship?

My internship at Agylytyx appropriately combined my knowledge in finance and data analytics. I got to use my database and data skills for data modeling and back-end implementation. On the other hand, since the company dealt with lots of funding profile-related data, my understanding of finance helped me reorganize the raw data. Hence the final data could be visualized more clearly.

Now my job is still more front-end than back-end. I'm still working with sales, marketing and finance professionals every day. I work with developers at the same time.

What were your instructors like?

They are all really kind and knowledgeable in their fields and they are very patient about your questions. They read our posts on the forum and helped answer the questions. One of the instructors for “Big Data: Overview, Tools and Use Cases” even showed us the articles he thought were good in class, live! This really connects the whole class and encourages students to put more thought into their writing.

Since completing courses at UCSC Extension, how have you put these new skills to work?

The skills I acquired from UCSC Extension are deeply related to my day-to-day duties. I'm currently working as an application analyst at the Shanghai headquarters of Herbalife China as an application analyst. My daily job engages the Microsoft SQL server query, website architecture, and .NET applications. Our responsibility is to make sure our ordering website and mobile app are working properly. Also, we meld the business team (e.g. sales and marketing) and the back-end technical team (development and IT). We take the requirements from the front-end, such as business team and end-users, and work with the back-end team to develop new features or debug the applications.

Now I use SQL on a daily basis. Recently I have been thinking about connecting R on my local machine to SQL server database to have a better view of the data. Also, Python can be a practical approach for me to edit data files.

I'm still making efforts on data analytics. I'm reading books and doing exercises using the R language. I believe one day I can use my data skills to accomplish more. I always want to explore more on data visualization because it's one of the finest ways to understand data for basically every field.

What advice do you have for people entering your field?

For database administrators, I’d say at the minimum, you need to understand database architecture and Linux operating system. For data analytics, I believe intermediate programming language skills are required on Python or R. My advice is that once you pick a concentration in the field, increase your expertise by practicing every day!

Visit our Database and Data Analytics pages to learn about UCSC Extension’s unique offerings. For information on services and programs for international students, please visit our International Programs page. Browse upcoming Database and Data Analytics courses.

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