From Baseball Scouting to Data Science: A Career Transformation

By BrainStation August 29, 2019
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Meet Alexander Levitt, a former Chicago Cubs scout and Director of Player Development for Vanderbilt University. Alexander recognized the power of data in the sports world and wanted to make the jump into a data-focused career. 

After graduating from BrainStation’s Data Science Diploma Program, Alexander returned to Nashville and got a role as a Data Analyst/BI Engineer for AllianceBernstein, a Tennessee-based asset management firm. We spoke with Alexander about his experience at BrainStation, and how the program helped him transform his career. 

Can you tell us a bit about your education and career background before BrainStation?

I attended Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. During my undergrad I double majored in Human and Organizational Development, and Economics. After completing my undergrad, I stayed at Vanderbilt for a Master’s of Education and studied Leadership and Organizational Performance. Prior to BrainStation, I was the Director of Player Development for the Vanderbilt University Baseball team. I wore a lot of different hats in that role, including forming partnerships with a variety of technology vendors to help further incorporate data driven processes to player development. 

What was your motivation to take the Data Science Program? What factors influenced your decision?

During my time working for both the baseball team at Vanderbilt, as well as a scout for the Chicago Cubs, I learned about the usefulness of machine learning to help make more informed sports decisions. In the sports world, models are used to predict the future performance of players through a variety of features. In my roles prior to BrainStation, I had the opportunity to leverage the insights derived from models and had a loose understanding of the data science process. Ultimately, I recognized that I didn’t just want to use the insights of the models I was interacting with but rather wanted to learn how to create them on my own. 

You moved from the U.S. to Canada to take the BrainStation program, why did you decide to make that move?

After looking at a variety of programs across the U.S. and Canada, I ultimately settled on BrainStation for several reasons. First and foremost, the course was 12 weeks. The other programs were 8 weeks or 10 weeks. In learning a new skill set, I thought the longer and more intensive the course, the better. I was also drawn to the technologies covered in the course, and the resources that BrainStation was investing in my growth – 3 full-time instructors, 2 full-time TAs – and a diverse group of students really attracted me. I loved BrainStation’s downtown campus Toronto campus and when I visited, I felt at home.

Can you tell me a bit more about the process of moving from the US to take this course? What was your experience as an international student?

As an international student, you can stay in Canada for up to 6 months without the need for a student visa, which makes it quite simple. Toronto is such a cosmopolitan city, I immediately felt at home. My cohort contained one other international student, as well as other students who had immigrated to Canada within the last five to ten years. 

Tell us a bit about your learning experience at BrainStation, what are some of the highlights?

As someone who hadn’t had any experience with Python prior to the course, I was amazed how quickly I was able to come to speed. For me the biggest highlight was presenting my Capstone project to industry professionals. I looked at over 200,000 online prescription drug reviews and predicted a user rating of the drug based on sentiment analysis. In addition, I also build a variety of models to predict a patient’s condition based on the review. Looking at how far I was able to grow my skills in such a short amount of time was truly inspiring. In addition, I was fortunate to have an amazing cohort and really enjoyed the friendships we formed together. 

What were some of the most valuable skills you gained during the program and why are these skills important to your professional development?

The course at BrainStation really helped me understand the data science process including business understanding, data wrangling, exploratory data analysis, data cleaning, feature selection, model training, and model evaluation. Not only did I improve my coding skills, but the course also focused on soft skills such as creating compelling visualizations and communicating findings.

What has the Career Support experience been like at BrainStation throughout the program and since you graduated?

Throughout the program, we were given Career Support in the form of resume writing, crafting our elevator pitching, learning how to apply for jobs, and gaining exposure to a variety of companies and hiring managers. Our class interacted with data scientists from around Toronto and took field trips to startups as well as large corporations. This gave us the opportunity to learn what it was like to work at a variety of environments and help us understand what types of roles we wanted to pursue after graduation.

Has BrainStation influenced the way you view digital skills and professional development? How so?

One of the biggest takeaways from BrainStation was that the only thing constant about technology is change. New technologies are released everyday, and in order to grow, it is critical to continue to learn new skills. My experience at BrainStation reminded me that I am a lifelong learner and it is critical to stay current and push your boundaries. 

What are your next steps now that you’ve graduated from the program?

After graduating from the program I actively interviewed for a variety of data scientist roles. I was very fortunate to land a position with a global asset management firm in my hometown of Nashville, Tennessee as a Data Analyst and BI Engineer. I’m enjoying this new role and am so thankful for everything I learned at BrainStation. 

 

If you’re interested in transforming your career like Alexander, check out BrainStation’s Diploma Programs in Data Science, User Experience Design, and Web Development.