Michael Monschke: Building a Better Career


Graduate Certificate, Data Mining and Applications

Nothing holds this family man back. Between vacationing with his wife and kids, volunteering at the local church, and staying in shape (by jogging in the sweltering Texas heat, no less), he still manages to find time for his other favorite pastime—coding. From Android applications to developer-based tools, he's building his career future and advancing his knowledge along the way.

"I am now focused on how the advanced techniques I learned can be used to inform better decision-making at my company."

What initially interested you in pursuing the Data Mining and Applications Graduate Certificate?

Over the past 20 years, I have been focusing my work in the data domain – data warehouse models, ETL tools and big data technologies such as Hadoop. I’ve also spent time developing applications and engineering solutions for my work and personal enjoyment. Advanced analytics was the one area I felt my skills were lacking a little. I did not have enough background or experience in the area and pursuing the Graduate Certificate in Data Mining and Applications is what got me interested in finally being able to fill that gap.

How has the Data Mining and Applications Graduate Certificate helped you in your current job?

Since earning the certificate, I’ve become more confident with my data mining knowledge and can communicate much more effectively with my colleagues who are advanced analytics developers. Recently, I created and presented a data science employee training session within the data organization at my company. I’m now focused on how the advanced techniques I learned can be used in place of a standard report or dashboard to inform better decision-making at my company.

What was your favorite course?

Stats216: Introduction to Statistical Learning. The course was challenging but I enjoyed it because it introduced me to key supervised and unsupervised statistical and machine learning techniques. It also taught me best practices, e.g. finding the ‘sweet spot’ between over-training and under-training the analytical models.

What has been the most valuable part of earning the Data Mining and Applications Graduate Certificate?

Understanding what can truly be done with advanced analytics. I have gotten to a point where I understand more than just the marketing buzzwords. I have true knowledge of the methods and models that large, complex datasets can help facilitate.

What advice can you give current students to help them succeed in the program and in their life and career? 

I would suggest that you prepare as much as possible before the classes – read textbook chapters, assignments, etc. With the content condensed to a couple of months, you need to take advantage of the focused timeframe.

For career, I would suggest being honest with yourself and get a good understanding your own strengths and weaknesses. In addition to strengthening your weaknesses, try mainly to focus on your strengths and how they can be applied in the marketplace.

Finally, for life, I would say to keep your life balanced. Don’t live beyond your means. Find your purpose in the grand scheme of things to be successful in life and happy with the work you are doing.