Our Plan to Reopen GA Washington, D.C.

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It’s a season to assemble. After over a year of Zooming and screen sharing, we’ve missed rubbing elbows with our community of students, instructors, and tech leaders.

We’re thrilled to be safely reopening our Penn Quarter campus and giving students the option to return to in-person learning. We’re kicking things off with limited events and will be launching our Software Engineering Immersive program in-person on September 13. 

Check out our upcoming in-person workshops below, and click here for complete details about how we’re keeping campus visitors safe, plus answers to questions you might have. If you have any additional questions, please email us directly at dc@generalassemb.ly, and we’ll get back to you ASAP.

In-Person Events & Workshops 

Note: Attendees are required to show proof of vaccination and wear masks at all times. See complete safety policies.

  • Campus Reopening Open House with Free Headshots (Oct 7)
  • Intro to Coding (Oct 14)

In-Person Long-Form Courses

Note: In-person students will need to be vaccinated and show proof of vaccination on or before the first day of class.

  • Software Engineering Immersive (Sep 13)

Browse All Workshops

Our Commitment to Safe In-Person Learning: What You Need to Know

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As we resume offering in-person learning in the U.S., we’re ensuring that students are set up for success in a safe learning environment. Below is everything you need to know about our policy, including answers to questions you might have. For individuals who will not be enrolled in a full-time immersive or part-time course when they visit, please scroll down to the section titled For Class and Workshop Attendees and Other Visitors.

For Full-Time and Part-Time Students

Vaccinations

All enrolled GA students in the US must be fully vaccinated prior to starting their in-person program. The CDC defines fully vaccinated as:

  • 2 weeks after an individual’s second dose in a 2-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or
  • 2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine.

Students will have to declare their vaccination status during the admissions process and will be required to show proof of vaccination on or before their first day of class. We will not be saving any vaccination records. 

Masks

Regardless of the latest CDC announcement or other national and/or local health authority guidance regarding masks or face coverings, we will be requiring all students to wear a face covering on campus.

Students may remove their masks if they are actively eating or drinking.

All students will also be required to follow any building-specific public safety guidance as outlined by each campus’s property management company. Students must adhere to any mask policies set forth by the building for public areas, such as elevators, building lobbies, public restrooms, parking garages, bike storage facilities, communal workspaces, public cafeterias, snack bars, or restaurants, etc.

Check-in Procedure

All students will need to be registered ahead of time and submit a health declaration form using the Envoy workplace management platform prior to entering campus.  

This form will attest that each individual is not exhibiting any COVID-related symptoms; that they have not been exposed to someone with COVID or exhibiting COVID symptoms; and that they have not tested positive for COVID themselves. This questionnaire will need to be submitted prior to visiting campus each time via an app or when arriving at campus via a QR code displayed on a tablet at the campus entrance.  

After their initial registration on Envoy, all entrants to the space (staff, instructors, students, and visitors) will be required to sign-in and out using the Envoy workplace management platform and submit the health questionnaire each time they plan to come to campus. Individuals can do so via an app or by using the tablet at the campus entrance.

  • If on any given day an individual experiences a change to their health and/or answers “yes” to any of the COVID-related questions on the health questionnaire, they will be asked to stay home, inform their Student Success Specialist, and consult a medical professional.  

Social Distancing

Students must adhere to social distancing guidelines (6 ft.) while on a GA campus. All of our classrooms and common spaces will be set up for adequate social distancing of at least 6 feet and at 50% maximum capacity.

Exposure Management Guidelines

Please stay home and contact your Student Success team if:

  • You have tested positive for COVID-19.
  • You are exhibiting symptoms and/or have been exposed to COVID-19, or have been tested but have not yet received results.
  • You have been in close contact in the last 14 days with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 or is suspected to have COVID-19.
  • You have been advised by a healthcare professional or the health department within the last 14 days of exposure to COVID-19 and should self-quarantine.
  • You are exhibiting one or more of the symptoms of COVID-19 as defined by the CDC.
  • Following travel, including cruise ship/river cruise travel, you have been exposed to COVID-19, are symptomatic or tested positive for COVID-19.  

If you come to campus and are experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19 you will be asked to go home. Please reference the most up to date COVID-19 information on the CDC website. You are encouraged to contact your medical provider if you have any medical related questions or concerns regarding exposure or are exhibiting symptoms.

If a staff member, student or visitor tests positive for COVID-19, we will inform fellow employees, students and visitors to campus within the previous 14 days of their possible exposure to COVID-19. We will maintain confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Those who have symptoms should self-isolate and follow CDC recommended steps. Those potentially exposed but with no symptoms will be asked to remain at home and practice social distancing for 14 days.

Student Enrollment and Withdrawal Policy

  • Students will not be permitted to switch their enrollment between in-person and online learning once the program has started. Any requests to change delivery format will follow our standard withdrawal and refund policy as outlined in the Student’s Enrollment Agreement and Student Course Catalog.

For Class and Workshop Attendees and Other Visitors

Vaccinations

Full vaccination is a requirement for anyone who visits a GA campus. Campus visitors will be required to show proof of vaccination or complete a self-attestation through Envoy depending on state and local guidelines. We will not be saving or storing proof of vaccination.

Check In Procedures with Envoy

All visitors to a GA campus will need to have a scheduled appointment with a GA staff member or be registered for an event or workshop. All campus visitors will be asked to submit a health declaration form using the Envoy workplace management platform prior to entering campus. 

This form will attest that each individual is not exhibiting any COVID-related symptoms; that they have not been exposed to someone with COVID or exhibiting COVID symptoms; and that they have not tested positive for COVID themselves. This questionnaire will need to be submitted prior to visiting campus each time via an app or when arriving at campus via a QR code displayed on a tablet at the campus entrance.

After their initial registration on Envoy, all entrants to the space will be required to sign-in and out using the Envoy workplace management platform and submit the health questionnaire each time they plan to come to campus. Individuals can do so via an app or by using the tablet at the campus entrance.   

  • If on any given day an individual experiences a change to their health and/or answers “yes” to any of the COVID-related questions on the health questionnaire, they will be asked to stay home, inform their manager, and consult a medical professional.  

Alumni or other GA guests will also need to have a scheduled appointment with a GA staff member in order to visit a campus. In advance of their appointment, they must register and submit a health declaration form using the Envoy workplace management platform prior to entering campus. 

Campuses will not be open to unscheduled public traffic, walk-ins, alumni, or any other visitors during this phase. This includes Online students, unless they have an appointment. 

Visitors may be required to submit a release and waiver prior to entering campus. 

Mask Protocols

  • Regardless of the latest CDC announcement or other national and/or local health authority guidance regarding masks or face coverings, we will be requiring all visitors to wear a face covering while entering or walking around campus.
  • Visitors must wear a mask while they are visiting campus. 
  • All visitors will also be required to follow any building-specific public safety guidance as outlined by each campus’s property management company. Visitors must adhere to any mask policies set forth by the building for public areas, such as elevators, building lobbies, public restrooms, parking garages, bike storage facilities, communal workspaces, public cafeterias, snack bars, or restaurants, etc. 

Social Distancing

  • All visitors must adhere to social distancing guidelines (6 ft.) while on a GA campus.

Visitor Policy

  • Any and all visitors to a GA campus will need to have a scheduled appointment with a GA staff member, be registered on the Envoy platform ahead of time and submit a health declaration prior to entering campus. This form will attest that each individual is:  
    • Not exhibiting any COVID-related symptoms.
    • Has not been exposed to someone with COVID or exhibiting COVID symptoms.
    • Has not tested positive for COVID themselves.   
  • Campuses will not otherwise be open to public traffic, walk-ins, or any other visitors during this phase, unless during pre-scheduled Open Houses.  
  • Subsequent visits to campus: After the initial visit and submission of the health declaration form, all entrants to the space will be required to sign in and out using the Envoy workplace management platform each time they plan to come to campus. By signing in each day, individuals are declaring that there has been no change to their health since the initial submission of the form. Individuals can sign in and out with the app or tablet at the campus entrance.
  • Visitors may be required to submit a release and waiver prior to entering campus.   

Other Precautions

  • Signage: All campuses will display COVID-19 and social distancing-related signage throughout the space in compliance with requirements of our parent company, The Adecco Group, and our global campus operations.  
  • Safety Supplies: All campuses will be required to have virus protection and general health safety supplies installed and available. These supplies include: disposable face masks, disposable Nitrile gloves, hand sanitizer, temperature kits, disinfectant wipes, and potentially plastic dividers for the front desk and classrooms.
  • Cleaning: All campuses will ensure that a thorough cleaning of all spaces occurs at least once a day and/or in between use cases. A thorough cleaning will consist of wiping down all desks and surfaces with a COVID-effective disinfectant, in addition to daily janitorial services. Disinfectant wipes will also be provided for staff, students, and instructors to clean their workspaces, any communal spaces used (i.e. kitchen table), and their personal belongings. 
  • Food & Beverage: Campuses will not be allowed to offer any shared cutlery, food, or beverage on campus (including, but not limited to: coffee, tea, snacks, oatmeal, vending machine items, and etc.). Students must bring and leave with their own food, beverages, and cutlery. Social distancing will apply when eating meals. Kitchen guidelines will be specified on clearly marked signage.
  • Capacity: Campuses will adhere to either their local health authority guidance on capacity restrictions for businesses and educational institutions or be limited to 50% capacity in classrooms and common spaces — whichever restriction is greater.
  • Classrooms: Students will be assigned specific desks in their classroom for the entirety of the program.

FAQ’s

Will GA staff be vaccinated?

We take the rules seriously. Employee vaccination status is protected medical information that cannot be disclosed by employers, so we are unable to publicize the vaccination status of a GA employee.

What if I’m not feeling well or am exhibiting COVID symptoms or have been exposed to COVID?

Safety first — everything else can follow. The GA Student Success team will work with students to ensure they can make up for missed lessons and know how it will impact their absence record. You should inform your Student Success Specialist immediately and stay home if you either:

  • Are exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Have been exposed to someone exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms or who has tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Have been advised by a health professional to quarantine or isolate.  

If you’ve been exposed to COVID-19 and/or someone exhibiting COVID-like symptoms please do not come to campus and follow CDC guidelines around quarantine.  

Can I access campus if I’m not enrolled in a course or scheduled to attend an event?

No, only students enrolled in an in-person course or registered for a scheduled, on-campus event or workshop may access our space. Visitors will be permitted on campus only for the duration of their meeting, event or workshop.

If I’m enrolled in a remote program, will I be required to attend campus at some point?

Students enrolled in a remote program will not be required to attend campus at any point.

Will GA offer hybrid learning options?

Right now, we’re focused on reopening our campuses to safely offer in-person learning experiences. However, our team is currently researching the best ways to launch a hybrid modality for our courses while considering safety and health protocol. 

Why DEI Begins & Ends With Learning

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DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) is a business priority that has lasting impacts on the world around us — and it happens to be a current buzz acronym on the tip of everyone’s tongue. The truth is, the “buzz” surrounding DEI is inconsequential. DEI is a cultural shift that’s here to stay — and it must be woven into every thread of our modern workplace culture. While 76% of organizations agree that DEI is a business priority, few actually made good on their promises and pledges last year, with only 5% meeting their goals.

We all know that real change doesn’t happen overnight — pledges and commitments need to be substantiated with real and actionable plans. Companies need to play the long game by cultivating the talent that exists in unexpected and underserved places, drawing on a more diverse workforce’s collective strengths and perspectives, and bridging the diversity gaps in high-growth fields. 

Why We Are Talking About DEI

What does learning have to do with diversity, equity, and inclusion? And how can learning help organizations make inroads when there are clear obstacles in the way?

Learning levels the playing field by building key skills and, in turn, provides full access and opportunity. By partnering with businesses to reskill, upskill, and train people, we help break through obstacles and make real progress in diversity efforts — at every level.

Our internal/external “always learning” culture is incredibly unique. From our Inclusivity committee to our employee resource groups (ERGs) to our executive DEI department and officers, we are passionate about DEI and its primacy in our work culture. We are passionate about always doing better and always moving forward. While we may not always “get it right,” we are determined to make it right for all. And we want to impart our knowledge and experience — wins, stumbles, and falls — to help others establish their rightful course.

“At the heart of learning is community,” says David Porcaro, VP of Learning and Innovation at GA. “Students learn best when there is a culture of belonging.”

Read on to see how we break down the elements of DEI into actions — and how they pertain to our core.

How To Build a Healthy DEI Culture

Step 1: Transform Diversity Promises Into Actions

Leaders understand that diverse leadership correlates with better business performance, but they need help moving from making verbal promises to taking real actions. Whether on the job, online, or on-campus, we believe that learning environments flourish when every individual’s inherent value and unique gifts and perspectives get illuminated.

“I believe it is essential that businesses make meaningful investments in building diverse, inclusive workplace cultures,” said Lisa Lewin, CEO of General Assembly. “True social progress is not possible without the business community taking meaningful action to address the most intractable problems facing our world.”

But what is a “meaningful investment” in the business space? (And how do you make one?) A meaningful (DEI) investment is sustainable, authentic, and people-driven — it’s when you invest in employees’ skills, cultures, and happiness. By showing vs. telling about your commitment to your people, you are instilling a trust-driven culture that can allow for challenging and transformative conversations and shifts. 360-degree changes can shape workforce cultures and provide real opportunities for diverse individuals — and real global change.


Step 2: Really Commit to Equity & Inclusion

When workplace cultures build an inherent sense of mutual respect, trust, empathy, connectedness, and belonging within their shared communities, they allow the difficult work of continuous learning — and unlearning — to occur. So, how exactly is GA committed to an inclusive culture? And how can we help you build one yourself?

To start, since 2011, GA has been building a culture of belonging and an open door to tech careers. We have been advocates of DEI from the very beginning. We take it very seriously.

What this means for you: When we take our inclusive ethos of belonging — and the training of it —  to an organization, holistic changes inevitably and authentically happen. A good DEI culture is fully inclusive, authentic, and communicative.

How to be committed in your org:

  • Form groups, departments, and committees within your organization to start the conversation. We have a director of DEI who helms all DEI-driven initiatives and communications, along with an Inclusion Committee, numerous ERGs (employee resource groups), and a supportive senior leadership team that serve as honesty checkpoints — they, along with all of our employees, are our ultimate feedback loop.
  • Show the work. These said groups and individuals promote an array of awareness campaigns and communications for heritage months, holidays, and beyond — and make them visible. These comms air internally, publically on our social channel, and in evergreen downloadable resources. 
  • Build the culture — from top to bottom — with the right people. Our senior leadership team and human resources department fully advocate for diverse hires, promotions, and opportunities by utilizing diverse job-seeker sites, taking the necessary time to find the best, most diverse candidates. In order to create a DEI culture, an organization must “do the work” by hiring individuals who inherently support and adopt DEI practices — and provide learning opportunities at every turn. 
  • Be open — and open to change. DEI is not a set-in-stone process. There will be “oops” moments — DEI is a quick-pivoting effort that requires agility, empathy, and patience.

Step 3: Give Open Access to Skilling Opportunities

Reskilling existing employees is crucial to diversifying teams. That means opening up access to departments that are historically less diverse, such as software engineering, and to underserved people groups, such as women and PoC.

Some of our examples: 

  • We partnered with Disney to diversify their tech department by training a group of nontechnical women for roles as software engineers in the CODE: Rosie initiative
  • At Adobe, we helped to create a diversified talent pipeline for skilled engineers with Adobe Digital Academy. Instead of recruiting outside the organization, GA identified and upskilled entry-level talent into digital apprentices. 
  • Similarly, through CODE for Good, we developed a custom digital training curriculum for both Guardian & Humana that reskilled a diverse talent pool of nontechnical employees for careers as software engineers within the company. We brought these two businesses together and developed diverse curriculums for each, providing networking and learning opportunities. CfG is our enterprise coalition that reskills women and underrepresented groups into skilled and empowered software engineers.
  • We are also excited to work with OneTen as a training partner, joining their mission to upskill, hire, and advance one million Black individuals in America over the next 10 years into family-sustaining jobs with opportunities for advancement.

How do we keep the momentum going?

We’ve identified crucial areas where DEI and learning intersect to largely impact culture in organizations. Fixing a systemic problem from the bottom up doesn’t lead to solving it at the top. Reskilling existing employees becomes crucial to fortifying teams, like offering existing employees career mobility by reskilling them into tech roles.

Ultimately, we must continuously invest in diverse employee bases and build a culture of lifelong learning by upskilling employees to accelerate careers — for every step of their career journeys. The truth is that digital skills are not static, and change is the only guaranteed constant. So, bottom line, all tech professionals, at every stage, need to be able to have the opportunity to skill up to meet the shifting demands of the industry — for a real chance to reach their full potential.

DEI is not a passing movement or one-and-done action. It must permeate every level of the org. DEI is our present and future.

GA Jobs to Be Done: A Series – Build Teams to Thrive in A Digital-First World

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The Third Step: Accelerate Technical Hiring Sustainably

The race for digital transformation has companies across industries under increased economic pressure to digitize. There’s only one issue: Getting ahead of the transformation imperative requires major changes. 

We can help.

Through our deep experience across many types of organizations, we’ve seen leaders’ transformation challenges boil down to four key goals:

  1. Create digital mindsets across the company. This includes understanding digital trends, growing digital mastery, and building a product-driven organization.
  2. Upgrade capabilities to reflect cutting-edge technical skills across marketing, technology, and data functions.
  3. Accelerate technical hiring by upskilling and reskilling current employees and new hires. 
  4. Understand what good looks like — a skill necessary in achieving every goal.

This series, GA Jobs To Be Done, unpacks each of these four goals, providing actionable recommendations that organizations can put into practice to help set their businesses on the path to sustainable digitization and success.

In this series, we’ve revealed how to build a strong digital culture and how to grow the capabilities that allow transformation — but to holistically scale your technology, you need the right talent. 

How do you get the “right” talent? Look internally — and read on. 

Talent Is the End Game

Earlier in the series, we addressed how to set your business up for digital success by upskilling and reskilling your current workforce and aligning your company — from leadership to new ways of working. But scaling these new digital systems, once again, requires acquiring the right talent.

“Help me accelerate my technical hiring” is one of the most common asks we get from executives. Once digital visions are mapped and job functions scoped, companies see the importance of scaling teams — very quickly. Top-performers who have knowledge of technical skills are spending more time interviewing candidates than building technology, causing a major lag in demonstrating transformation-related ROIs.

Rest assured, there’s a way to stay out of this. We studied it, so you can avoid learning the hard way.

The Zero-Sum Game of Buying Talent

Anyone who is hiring knows that good technical talent is hard to come by. To get desired candidates, companies are engaging in a competitive talent battle that is accruing huge recruiting bills and skyrocketing salaries for qualified potential hires. This competition has created a tragedy of the commons in which a $4,000 cost-per-hire is normal, where a company like Netflix can offer a double salary to poach a new recruit, and 70% of employers either have terminated workers due to the implementation of new technology or anticipate doing so.

This is neither a winning strategy for digital companies or the marketplace as a whole. In the meantime, serious inequities have surfaced in underserved and underrepresented groups and their ability to access necessary skill development needed for tomorrow’s roles.

A Virtuous Cycle With Better Market Results

Getting out of this aforementioned vicious cycle is best for your company and the overall market. 

Good news! There is a new and better cycle: Recent studies have shown a $136K potential savings per person from reskilling in-house tech talent instead of layoffs and new hires. Reskilling high-potential employees whose roles may phase out due to automation means you increase your talent pool and demonstrate a willingness to invest in and grow your employees. Contrary to the common fear many companies share (investing in talent only to see their stars work for competitors), these “talent donors” get an incredible boost in employee engagement and loyalty

In fact, companies that invest in talent become more attractive to skilled employees drawn to their growth culture. These investments create a bigger pie for the job market: the more companies grow their internal talent, the more available talent is for the market. Job-filling efficiency also gets boosted.

Many companies are already successfully investing in talent to save time, money, and turnover. Booz Allen Hamilton’s investment in reskilling and upskilling 25,000 workforces across 80+ locations resulted in a growing data capability that secured a 4% lift in contract value and an 11% growth in employee job satisfaction and retention. Some of the largest global technology, insurance, media, and auto companies are doing the same with skilling programs thriving at Interapt, Guardian, Humana, Bloomberg, and more.

Diversity Is a Winning Strategy

While the bidding war for top talent accelerates, the market only exacerbates the well-documented diversity issues within the tech industry. From vast underrepresentation for women and people of color to wage gaps compared to their white peers, institutional barriers prevent a healthy distribution of diverse perspectives in technology.

The exclusivity of skilling access is an obstruction —  and companies are making moves to change that. For example, Disney launched a program called CODE: Rosie to reskill women as developers — and it resulted in a 100% hiring rate for graduates entering technical roles. Guardian and Humana partnered to create the Code for Good coalition that reskilled underrepresented groups (including women, BIPOC, veterans, parents, and LGBTQQIA+ individuals) into engineering roles with perfect program satisfaction scores.

Bottom Line: Invest To Grow

As these programs grow and flourish, it is clear that building talent is the answer to the vicious cycles of talent shortages we see today. Throughout this piece, we’ve highlighted the many opportunities that make building talent more effective than buying it. 

So, how do you accelerate technical hiring for your new stage of growth? Skilling your people from within is simply the most sustainable way. In addition to solving the hiring conundrum and creating numerous additional company and labor market benefits, investing in internal talent also helps you:

  1. Build a talent pipeline to attract and retain high-potential talent.
  2. Make tangible progress on your DEI goals. 
  3. Lower the costs of talent acquisition for tech and data roles.
  4. Reduce the potential shortage risk for projected talent needs,
  5. Reduce the financial and morale impacts of large restructuring efforts by reskilling laid-off workers with competitive skill sets.

As the shifts in digital innovation only accelerate, growing your talent funnel is the most effective strategy for employees, the bottom line, the labor market, and the future of business.

A critical question companies ask is, “How do I know I’m doing everything right?” While “right” means different things to different businesses, we help you benchmark what “good” looks like, so you can set and attain personalized growth goals. We’ll get into all of this in our final installment.

If you’re ready to invest in your talent, we can help today. Explore our catalog to see the digital literacy and upskilling courses that we provide — from IC to strategic leader, across digital fluency, marketing, data, and technology. 

Want to get specific about how we could help your organization? Get in touch. 

Alumni Success Stories: How One GA Grad Changed Careers After 10 Years in Finance

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It’s never too late to pursue work you love — that’s what we learned catching up with User Experience Immersive Design (UXDI) alum, Manan Shah, about his journey from senior finance professional to user experience (UX) designer. Working in a high-paying, secure role for over a decade, you might think, “What more could you ask for in a career?” But it wasn’t until after Manan secured a role at JPMorgan Chase & Co. as a senior UX designer that he learned what was missing: work he loved. Learn how he navigated his career change and what he discovered along the way.

I was brought up in a single-parent immigrant household where education and extracurricular activities were important to my mom as long as they pushed me forward. This honed my creativity, as I had to make more with less.

I graduated from the University of Maryland with a degree in finance and went to work at Lehman Brothers after getting a full-time offer from my internship. I worked there for two years before they went bankrupt, but luckily the division I worked for, Neuberger Berman, was able to spin itself off into a private company.

What were you doing before you came to GA? What was difficult or dissatisfying about it that prompted you to make a change?

At Neuberger Berman, I was most recently a VP in Internal Audit, but there were a few reasons why I decided it was the right time to look for a new challenge. I had worked at the same place for 11 years after graduating college and never even interviewed for a full-time job. I learned how to excel in a structured environment, but I didn’t have the opportunity to flex my creative skills. I also wanted to start a family soon and knew it was my last chance to take a risk and do something different.

What about UX specifically intrigued you to explore it as a career? What was the defining moment that pushed you forward?

Thankfully, my wife encouraged me to look outside of finance. I realized that I wanted to do something future-leaning (i.e. tech) that also repurposed my existing skill set, so I would not have to start from the bottom. I went down a rabbit hole of different career websites and spoke to countless people until I connected with a few design professionals. When I learned about UX, I thought it would be a great fit for my skill set and would incorporate both the left and right sides of my brain.

GA has a great reputation among bootcamps, especially since they have a large employer network. It was also suggested to me by a few people, so I went to an open house. Coincidentally, the instructor was a UX designer at an accounting company. He said things that kept checking boxes for me: 

  • Am I the kind of person who asks how things could be made better?
  • Do I want a seat at the table to advocate for the person actually using the product?
  • Do I like to find new ways to do things, like “hacks”?

When I asked him his opinion on a career change from finance to UX, he intimately understood my skills as an auditor and connected the dots from that role to UX. At that moment, I knew what I wanted as my next challenge.

What was the best thing about UXDI for you and the GA experience overall?

The support and encouragement from my instructors and fellow classmates were key to my success. I was able to help others with concepts I knew, and they helped teach me things I was not as confident in.

The icing on the cake was the final project with a real client. It taught me so much about UX and myself, including what expectations can and cannot be met. It was also one of the main topics I discussed in my first set of interviews.

Can you share more about your capstone project? 

I went into the project with really high expectations, but I was not prepared for the amount of work the client’s product required to achieve its goals and reflect my new skill set. I was disheartened to say the least. I shared my feelings with my team, and they felt similarly. But our instructors pointed out that our project was the best one to highlight the impact we can make with UX. As we finished presenting to the client, we braced for negative feedback. Much to our surprise, the client was overjoyed with our design, and I left feeling so much pride in what I had accomplished. This was a clear example of not judging a book by its cover. 

How has GA been a resource to you in terms of finding a job after completing your program? 

My career coach, Anna, was amazing!!! She made us stick to a plan and carry it out — even when we were insanely busy. Through every up and down, she was a great resource when you needed something, as long as you showed you were committed.

How do you think your background in finance prepared you for your career in UX? 

My finance career honed a lot of the soft and hard skills I use today as a designer, such as running my own projects, time management, prioritization, creating reports and presentations, interviewing auditees, learning from missteps, speaking up or taking a back seat when needed, analyzing qualitative and quantitative data, and problem solving.

What do you love most about your current role?

I was thrilled to get the senior UX designer role at JPMorgan Chase & Co., since it married my previous job as an auditor at an asset management company to my new career. But the things I love the most are:

  • I have met so many interesting, open-minded people who bring fresh ideas and experiences to the table.
  • I am able to own the product from a design perspective. My manager pushes me but also allows me to shine and take in wins. 
  • The product I work on helps users to see their finances in one holistic view. I am helping the greater good, and I feel good at the end of the day because of it.

How did the skills you learned at GA help you in your current career?

I would not be where I am now — which is in a much happier place — without GA. One of the biggest skills my instructors taught me was navigating ambiguity. When I was in finance working as an auditor, I requested everything I needed to accomplish my work. With UX there is no final answer; the discipline as a whole requires some comfort with gray area and making decisions without having all the answers. 

As you know, creativity and logic are not mutually exclusive. How have you witnessed those left-brain and right-brain skills complement each other in your current role? 

As a UX designer, the visual skill set is obviously important, but it is easy to underestimate how much impact an analytical skill set can have on your work. I’ve been brought onto many projects simply to nail down the root cause of a problem we should solve. A seamless and easy consumer experience, at the end of the day, is a logical one. From a collaboration standpoint, I have product and tech partners who appreciate how I can think beyond the design and see the big picture.

Do you find that combo to be an uncommon hybrid skill set that gives you a competitive edge? Or is it something typical in your field?

This is a skill that great designers have. It’s also one that designers can learn, but some pick it up quicker than others. Those that do are able to move onto more complex designs and deliver a cohesive product. I believe that having both enabled me not to have to start my new career from scratch. 

Sometimes, we can unintentionally lock ourselves into a label: “I am a creative” or “I am a technician.” What would you say to someone who is interested in UX but doesn’t consider themself to be either creative or technical enough? 

UX is one of those careers where there is something for everyone. As long as your goal is to produce the best product for the customer, you can find your niche based on your strengths. You can be a designer, researcher, content editor, architect, or any mix of those areas. While being technical or creative will most definitely help, there are so many skills that you can bring to the table that will help you in your journey. Soft skills can elevate you. There are designers who may not be the best at presenting — and if you can’t sell your design, then it doesn’t matter how creative it is. Or, if you can’t convey to the developer what you are designing, it won’t be created as intended. 

In respect to UX, what do you want your legacy to be? Is there a change you want to inspire or a mission that defines the work that’s important to you?

In my prior work, I was able to help my company do things better, but I wanted my work to be more personally fulfilling. In my new career, I wanted to do better for the public and have a direct impact. I want a legacy where I see other competitors using elements of my work because the competition views it as the best experience for their users — which I have already begun to see.

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5 Key Excel Skills You Can Learn in Minutes

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Since it was created in 1985, Excel has practically become synonymous with data itself, and still is many years later. Spend a few minutes with our expert instructor in the videos below to learn the kinds of Excel tools that can help you be your own analyst—and make smarter decisions with data. 

How to Create an Excel Bar Chart

Bar charts are an important visual tool that can help express your data over time and tell a story in a visually appealing and digestible way. Learn more in our 2-minute lesson below:

How To Create an Excel Pivot Table

Pivot tables allow you to effectively summarize and highlight the importance of your data sets. They are an important presentation tool and can help you simplify your data. Learn more in our 3-minute lesson below:

How To Create a Histogram in Excel

Histograms provide a visual representation of variations within your data and can help display degrees of difference in an impactful way. Learn more in our 2.5-minute lesson below:

How To Create a Pie Chart in Excel

Pie charts can express percentages of a whole and represents a set period of time and can be helpful to show differences among a handful of categories. Unlike bar charts, it does not express changes over time. Learn more in our 2.5-minute lesson below:

How To Create a VLookup in Excel

A VLookup (vertical lookup) can help you lookup data that is organized vertically. It is useful in helping you spot trends and find important pieces of data that can be difficult to locate in large data sets. Learn more in our 2.5-minute lesson below:

View Upcoming Data Workshops

A Beginner’s Guide To Tableau

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Featuring Insights From Iun Chen & Vish Srivastava

Read: 2 Minutes

Tableau is a powerful data analysis and data visualization tool that anyone can use. It can be used by beginners to create simple charts and by advanced practitioners to solve complex business problems. It is user-friendly, easy to learn quickly, and includes a portfolio of business intelligence tools with the potential to give a wide range of roles the advantage of professionally analyzing data.

Simply put, if you can present data in a clear, compelling format, you gain a competitive advantage in today’s data-driven marketplace.

“Tableau enables you to quickly connect disparate data sources and utilize a drag-and-drop interface to analyze data and create dashboards,” says Vish Srivastava, who leads our Data Visualization & Intro to Tableau workshop. As a product leader at Evidation Health, he relies on Tableau to turn around fast data analysis. “For example, product teams use it to analyze user growth and analytics, BizOps teams use it to analyze operational data, and sales teams use it to analyze customer and revenue data.”

Businesses survive and thrive on data. The amount of data available to businesses today is impressive. To keep organizations on a successful path, analysts need to provide the key insights needed to make important decisions.

Here’s where Tableau comes in.

Tableau takes business intelligence to the next level, making it fast and efficient to analyze large amounts of data and create beautiful, presentation-ready visualizations that generate insights.

Data is the lifeblood of modern teams. Being able to quickly answer ad hoc questions and integrate data analysis into your day-to-day decision-making will make you an MVP. Though not all data analysts use Tableau, they do need some way to quickly create data visualizations.

Tableau is the data viz tool of choice.

Tableau is so popular in part because it is easy and fast to learn. In Iun Chen’s Intro to Data Analytics course, students learn the life-changing basics of Tableau in an afternoon. Aspiring analysts come to understand the power of data and the impact their numbers can have. As more data becomes available, there are more opportunities for data to be misused, a risk that every data scientist soon realizes. To quote the Nobel laureate and economist Ronald Coase, “If you torture the data long enough, it will confess.”

The ethics of data form the foundation of Chen’s syllabus so pitfalls are avoided from the start. “Overanalyzing and manipulating data too deeply can always give you the information you want,” says Chen. “Unfortunately, this is all too common in professional settings, though it’s usually unintentional.”

Tableau is a powerful tool.

Business insights are only as good as the data behind them, and the best data analysts understand that the human choices they make matter.

“Data is the perfect example of garbage in, garbage out,” says Srivastava, who defines good data as data that is ethically collected, complete, objective, and thoroughly analyzed. ”The double-edged sword of using powerful data analysis and visualization tools is that beautiful charts can create a false precision and obfuscate data integrity issues.”

To delve deeper into this topic, Chen recommends How Charts Lie, by Alberto Cairo, an exploration of how data can be altered:

“This book details how the use of data and data visualizations in journalism can be distorted and misleading, without the audience even realizing it, due to the urgency to present findings in a timely manner to the public.”

Want to learn more about Iun?
https://www.linkedin.com/in/iunchen 

Want to learn more about Vish? https://www.linkedin.com/in/vishrutps

7 Tips to Learn Tableau Fast

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Featuring Insights From Iun Chen & Vish Srivastava

Read: 2 Minutes

Let’s get it straight: How difficult is it to learn Tableau for a complete beginner? Are there shortcuts to learning Tableau? Any tips, tricks, or time-saving work-arounds? Thankfully, the answer is yes. Try these top tips, approved by our expert instructors, and start data viz now.

“It’s a little overwhelming at first but as soon as you understand the basics, like what are dimensions and measures, everything falls into place pretty quickly,” says Vish Srivastava, product leader at Evidation Health and GA instructor.

“In essence, you need to understand two things: The basics on how data works — for example, what are common formats of data and what is a primary key? And a basic understanding of data visualization in a business setting. Can you answer the question: When is a time series vs. a pie chart valuable for decision making?”

But can you really learn the basics of Tableau in an afternoon?

“The best way to learn is to download a sample dataset and dive right in and start creating data visualizations. To keep going from there, check out various portfolios online to get inspiration, and try to build those.”

According to Iun Chen, who conducts internal Tableau training at LinkedIn, Tableau is easy to learn, but hard to master.

“The basic concepts of charting and color theory are easy to pick up and can take just a few weeks. However, if you are looking to be a subject matter expert, this can take years to perfect,” she says. 

Chen preps students in her Intro to Data Analytics course to achieve close-to-mastery in these key areas.

  1. Can they quickly prep and analyze large volumes of data?
  2. Identify key information and determine the best visual method to present them?
  3. Take business questions and determine which visualizations to use?
  4. Translate raw datasets to storylines with a beginning, middle, and end? 
  5. Format charts, graphs, titles, text, and images for a polished deliverable? 
  6. Articulate best practices on design and visualization techniques?
  7. Provide feedback on ineffective visualizations and how to improve them?

    This checklist is the closest thing to a Tableau cheat sheet you’ll find. Prioritize these skills, and you’ll waste no time learning Tableau. Now that you know what you need to succeed, you can choose whether to take our Data Analytics course fast or slow. Learn Tableau — along with data analytics tools SQL and Excel — in a 1-week accelerated format, or over 10 weeks in the evening.

Chen sums it up perfectly: “As long as you are actively learning, applying your learnings, and ensuring innovation of your work, you will be a data visualization expert in no time.”

Want to learn more about Iun?
https://www.linkedin.com/in/iunchen 

Want to learn more about Vish? https://www.linkedin.com/in/vishrutps

Top 3 Reasons to Learn Tableau

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Featuring Insights From GA instructor Candace Pereira-Roberts

Read: 2 Minutes

Do you communicate data? Do you want to create more effective visualizations? Tableau is the data analytics tool you’re looking for. Here are the top three reasons why you should learn how to use Tableau, the popular data viz software focused on business intelligence.

#1 Tableau Is Easy

Data can be complicated. Tableau makes it easy. Tableau is a visualization tool that takes data and presents it in a user-friendly format of charts and graphs. And here’s the rub: There is no code writing required. You’ll easily master the end-to-end cycle of data analytics.


Need to showcase trends or surface findings? Tableau will make you an expert. Proficiency in business intelligence is a transferable skill that is quickly becoming the lifeblood of organizations. 

“I see students who are new to analytics learn Tableau desktop and be able to develop Tableau worksheets, dashboards, and story points in a couple of weeks — essentially a complete analysis project,” says Candace Pereira-Roberts, FinServ data engineer and one of our Data Analytics course instructors. She adds, “I like to share knowledge and watch people grow. I learn from my students as well.” 

 #2 Tableau Is Tremendously Useful

Would you rather tell visual stories with data? Or present the same old boring reports and tables? Is that even a question?

“Anyone who works in data should learn tools that help tell data stories with quality visualizations.” Full stop.

Data analysts and data engineers were quick to adopt and use Tableau, and it has given those roles a key competitive advantage in the recent data-related hiring frenzy. But their secret is out. And the advantages go beyond the usual tech roles. Having a working knowledge of data, and specifically knowing how to use Tableau, can help many more tech professionals become more attractive to recruiters and hiring managers.

Plus, it has a built-in career boost. Tableau’s visualizations are so elegant, you’ll be confident presenting the business intelligence and actionable insights to key stakeholders. Improving your presentation skills is par for the course.

#3 Tableau Data Analysts Are in Demand

As more and more businesses discover the value of data, the demand for analysts is growing. One advantage of Tableau is that it is so visually pleasing and easy for busy executives — and even the tech-averse — to use and understand. Tableau presents complicated and sophisticated data in a simple visualization format. In other words, CEOs love it.

Think of Tableau as your secret weapon. Once you learn it, you can easily surface critical information to stakeholders in a visually compelling format. That will make you a rockstar in any organization. 

“Tableau helps organizations leverage business intelligence to become more data-driven in their decision-making process.” Pereira-Roberts recommends participating in Makeover Monday to take your skills to an even higher level. 

Take Our Free 2-Hour Data Visualization Class

Want to learn more about Candace? Check out her thoughts on how to become a business intelligence analyst or connect with her on LinkedIn.

What Is Data Visualization?

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An Interview With Iun Chen

Read: 4 Minutes

Data is big, and it’s getting bigger. How do you parse and understand data when the sheer amount of information can be overwhelming? The answer is data visualization. Using concepts of design theory like elements of color and layout, the discipline of data visualization, or data viz, is essentially the graphic representation of data. We called on one of our data viz experts, Iun Chen, to break it down further. 

Let’s start with an introduction and how you came to the world of data viz.

IC: I’m Iun (pronounced ‘yoon’), and I work in the data analytics space focusing on business intelligence tools and building scalable resources for LinkedIn. I also teach the 10-week Intro to Data Analytics course for GA, which includes the professional skills of SQL, Tableau, and Excel.

In college, I was a business major with a specialization in marketing and advertising. I became more interested in how the ad business model worked behind the scenes and in how software and systems worked. As a result, I worked at many major media companies in a quantitative capacity — revenue planning, ad pricing, finance, ad sales strategy. That led me into a formalized analytics route.

How do you define data visualization?

IC: Data visualization is the idea of communicating information graphically. It’s the science of information design, in which you take massive amounts of data in whatever format it comes in and use it to surface high-level insights and findings in a visually compelling way so audiences can easily understand the main points.

How does data visualization differ from data analytics?

IC: Data analytics is the process of cleaning, prepping, analyzing, and presenting data. Data visualization is part of the presenting data step and is defined as the act of visually organizing data through the use of charts, graphs, and dashboards. Concepts of data visualization are closely aligned with concepts of design theory: color, font, scale, layout, organization.

Why is data viz important?

IC: Data visualization is easy to learn but hard to master. In my classes, I heavily emphasize the design element of data visualization. It’s easy to whip together a quick bar or pie chart, but is it the best way to communicate the point you are trying to make? The goal of collecting mass amounts of data is to be able to quickly translate it into insights that can help make smart business decisions. The final form of this translation is often a chart or graph, which is why the ability to design and visualize these mass amounts of data grows as we collect more of it.

What is a data narrative?

IC: People think in stories and narratives, not in black and white figures. Just like you would share a story with a friend using a beginning, middle, and endpoint, you would do the same when sharing details about data analysis. Here’s a simple example.

  1. Beginning: Sales are down year-over-year; identify the symptoms.
  2. Middle: Furniture sales — our largest segment — are doing poorly in the last six months; conduct the analysis to investigate reasons and uncover root causes.
  3. End: Review retail store reports and conduct manufacturer visits; recommend next steps.

The key point to any data narrative is that it should present a compelling business case and surface unrealized insights to the audience. The business challenges, rationale, and next steps should be clearly presented, and people in the room should be able to walk away and know what to action on. 

Which tech roles use data visualization?

Data visualization — like data analytics — is a skill set that can be applied to any job. But if you are looking for a job that has data visualization skills as part of the function and responsibilities, look for roles like business analyst, data analyst, business intelligence analyst, data scientist, and data engineer. Keep in mind that the formal skill of data visualization is still relatively new, so depending on the maturity of the company, those functions may not be fully established yet. However, with the increase of data in the world, there’s a growing need for experts who understand data visualization techniques more and more.           

Check out this Medium post which details how Spotify’s business has evolved with the creation of their data visualization roles.

What’s the future of data visualization?

As we continue to collect more and more data, the need for people with the skills to analyze and present data becomes ever-growing and critical in the workplace environment. More companies will need to generate insights quickly to keep up with advances and competition in their respective industries. The skill of data visualization will become more and more attractive as teams and organizations seek to translate their data into insights more efficiently and effectively. The ability to work with data is increasingly critical to the success of any company in any job function. 

Iun Chen’s Recommended Data Viz Reading List

FlowingData

StorytellingWithData

InformationIsBeautiful

Tableau Public Gallery

New York Times Data Journalism

The WSJ Guide to Information Graphics

Storytelling with Data: A Data Visualization Guide for Business Professionals 

Good Charts: The HBR Guide to Making Smarter, More Persuasive Data Visualizations

Edward Tufte’s The Visual Display of Quantitative Information

Want to learn more about Iun?
https://www.linkedin.com/in/iunchen