The Process of Beginning A New Career in Data Analytics | Graduate Spotlight

Sep 30, 2020
Jessica Grande


Lori Butler of Full-time Data Analytics Cohort 1

After a career in accounting and payroll managing, Lori Butler of Full-time Data Analytics Cohort 1 shares that she decided that it was time for a change and to free herself from “having payroll processing deadlines determine my vacation schedules.” Around the time Lori left her previous position and was searching for something new, her husband also began exploring a career transition, originally considering web development. That’s when they discovered Nashville Software School (NSS). 

After attending an Info Session at NSS, Lori enrolled in the Full-time Data Analytics cohort and her husband, Landry, enrolled in the Part-time Data Analytics cohort scheduled to graduate on the same day. “The key thing that caught my attention was that NSS is a nonprofit that measures its success based on the percentage of graduates who are employed in their new field within 90 days of graduating,” Lori explains. “I also liked that they proactively build great relationships with highly-regarded companies throughout Nashville.”


Lori shares that one of her favorite experiences being a part of the first full-time Data Analytics program was “having the opportunity to work on projects in a variety of ways – solo, small teams, and large teams – and having the resulting work become part of our personal portfolio on GitHub.” 

It’s one thing to understand how to do analysis and write code. It’s a whole other thing to understand the culture and ecosystem including repositories, Agile project management, methodologies, and more. 

During her time at NSS, Lori discovered areas of Data Analytics that she enjoyed working in the most. “I had the opportunity to discover that I prefer working on defined questions more than broad assignments. Give me data, context, and a set of questions or information that needs to be gleaned from that data and I’m all in,” she shares. “I’m glad to have discovered that preference while at NSS. That self-knowledge helped me focus my job search efforts.”


For Lori’s capstone project, she wanted to know what areas of Nashville were seeing the most change and growth due to the city’s rapidly increasing population. “Great information is published daily by Metro Nashville,” she adds, “but the information is spread across several different datasets making it cumbersome to know what is being proposed. Also, growth trends aren’t readily apparent when viewing each dataset individually.” The data questions stood: Which neighborhoods have had the most, and the least, growth during the past three years based on count of building permits by type, and what is the cost of construction for the most popular ones?

“It’s really interesting what I ended up discovering,” she shares, “There are two spots of town that had the most single-family home development and it isn’t East Nashville. Sylvan Park and North Nashville have consistently had the highest number of permits for the past 9-10 months, and then sporadically even before that.” 

Lori used data published by from two Metro Nashville departments, Python, Jupyter Notebook, Tableau, and Microsoft Excel to perform her analysis. 

Get a more in-depth look at Lori’s capstone project What’s Happening In My Neighborhood.


After a 3 month job search, Lori is joining HealthStream as a Process Analyst. “I am very excited about this position! I’m a process geek. I love process improvement / process re-engineering,” she says. “Where others see red tape, I see opportunity...  opportunity to make internal business systems more user-friendly, which improves the quality of data as it’s gathered, which subsequently improves the resulting analysis and visualizations.” 

Lori shares three key things that helped her land her job after graduating from NSS:

Read job descriptions (lots of them!)

“When I first started job hunting I had no idea that I could combine my decades of business process improvement experience with data analytics. I discovered this niche by reading hundreds of job descriptions. I began noticing titles like ‘Process Re-engineering Analyst’ and ‘Business Improvement Analyst’ “

Resume / Cover Letter Upgrade

“When I found this position I revamped my resume pretty substantially to let my enthusiasm show. I also expanded it to two pages so I could do a better job explaining how my past experience applied to this specific opportunity.” 

Network with current employees

“After applying, I was also fortunate to be able to connect with about 15 current HealthStream staff who used to work with my husband when he worked at HealthStream 20 years ago. I had conversations with about ten of those people, and a few of them offered to reach out internally to the hiring manager and put in a good word for me. One thing I asked each person I spoke with, at HealthStream and at other companies when I networked, was: “What are some of the core reasons you think XYZ company is successful?”  It was fun to hear everyone’s answers! When I applied to other companies, where I didn’t know anyone personally, I would reach out to employees in Nashville (using LinkedIn). Many people are willing to help if you send them a brief note and tell them why you want to connect.” 

Learn more about Lori by visiting her LinkedIn profile or listening to her podcast!

Check out all the recent grads at Full-time Data Analytics 1's website and hear the graduates share their experience at NSS and capstone projects in their podcasts below.

Topics: Alumni, Student Stories, Analytics + Data Science