Written by Dana Krems
The distance between anthropology and data analytics may be shorter than you would expect.
Sarah Klingman-Cole earned a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology and Geography in 2012 and then entered a Master of Science in Anthropology program, which she completed in 2015. Parallel to her college experiences, she spent a lot of time working with people — from managing a restaurant to contributing at a senior living facility to working in student registration and being a graduate teaching assistant. At the same time, her interest in data science was expressed with an emphasis and certification in Geographic Information Systems.
However, Sarah’s career took an unexpected turn after she earned her master’s degree. She accepted a job as a contract sales representative at a retailer in Fort Atkinson, Wis., and after about ten months, she moved into a merchandising/business analyst position.
“When I was hired into the new position, my manager saw the value in someone interested in people. However, the Chief Information Officer encouraged me to get education in data analytics and offered tuition reimbursement,” Klingman-Cole said.
Sarah’s husband was an alumnus of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, so she looked to UW-Whitewater for options. She chose the online Graduate Certificate in Data Analytics from the College of Business and Economics.
“UW-Whitewater is close to where we lived, but I chose the online program because of my work schedule,” she said.
She completed the program taking one class at a time and had an overwhelmingly positive experience.
“The first class I took was Quantitative Analysis for Business with Professor Pavan Chennamaneni. That class was great for setting a foundation for all the other courses. It gave me what I needed to succeed, and everything we learned could be applied to your job.”
“The software and analysis techniques I learned throughout the program were all relevant to business settings, as well. I worked with SQL, Excel, SPSS, and Qlik, for example. I was even impressed with the textbooks required. The professors didn’t assign a textbook for the sake of assigning one, and I still refer them to this day.”
The qualifications and experience of the faculty also had a profound impact on the effectiveness of the program.
“While data analytics falls under data science, it’s also an art. It really helped to learn from people who had working experience outside the classroom and could relate what it’s like to use analysis techniques in real settings.”
After completing the certificate in 2019, Sarah transitioned to being a data analyst at UW-Whitewater for about a year and then became an institutional researcher at the Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay, Wis.
She reflects positively on the impact of her graduate certificate program.
“I think there’s a lot of value to certificates, especially for subjects like data analytics. In my experience, employers see the value of the focused coursework, and I’ve put much of what I learned to practice in my job.”