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Instructor Profile: Michael Costner, Data Analytics

Michael Costner has always been a big baseball fan. It was his love for the game and following the player statistics that ignited his interest in data. Every statistic is tracked in a baseball game, batting averages, earned run average, and of course, wins and losses. He was fascinated by the way they use numbers and data in sports and how important it is to the game.

After getting a degree in industrial engineering from Georgia Tech, he went to work for Walt Disney. “It opened up the opportunity to see how data could be applied, not only to baseball, but to any company and industry,” Michael states. He would move on to work across a variety of industries including for a sports analytics platform, tapping into the love of sports that sparked his interest in data all those years ago. In 2017, he received his Master’s degree from Georgia State University with a degree in Data Analytics.

As an instructor, Michael describes his teaching style as laid back and approachable. He believes students who’ll do best in his class will be curious and have a positive attitude. “This is going to be challenging, especially if you come from a nontechnical background,” says Michael. “Most students haven’t written a line of code when they get to my class. Understand that you’re going to fail and do things wrong, but that’s not something to be discouraged by.”

In DigitalCrafts’ Data Analytics bootcamp, students can expect to learn about probability and statistics, how to use excel or similar spreadsheet tools, coding in python, and SQL and relational databases, among other concepts. His advice to students is to familiarize themselves with some of the topics they’ll cover in the program before they start. While the curriculum will be starting from ground zero, the concepts will feel less intimidating if you do a little bit of research beforehand.

One of the things he loves about working in data analytics is how the field continues to evolve. “There’s always something new to be learned. The things I thought were cutting edge 10 years ago, I wouldn’t say are relics, but they’re close,” Michael explains. “Traditionally, data was a number in a spreadsheet somewhere. What’s exciting about this day and age is that everything is data.”

Elaborating on the changes in the industry, he notes that data and technology have come to the forefront of everyone’s mind in business. “The technology behind how you analyze, store and retrieve data have all evolved significantly. The accessibility of it all is what’s changed the most,” he asserts. In the past 10 years, the way we approach data analytics and the things we can do with that data has changed drastically.

As a data analyst, he believes the most difficult part of the job, in his opinion, is articulating your findings to lay audiences. “Data is new and foreign to a lot of folks and that makes it scary. Part of the job as a data scientist is to be a storyteller and communicator,” Michael comments. Being a great communicator isn’t often one of the qualities people think of when they think of a data analyst but it’s crucial to your success in the role to be able to communicate sometimes complicated findings into a more digestible form.

As students approach the first day of class he wants students to know the field of data analytics is broad and while the bootcamp will teach you a lot, there will always be more for students to learn. “I encourage students to be a mile wide and an inch deep,” he asserts. “There are so many areas in the realm of data analytics: algorithms, computational efficiency, and data storage, just to name a few. It’s too much for one person to have a mastery of. Focus on having a healthy knowledge of six or seven key concepts.”

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