Struggling on Coming Up with a Data Analytics Project? Try This
People often ask me: What kind of projects should I do? Do you have any suggestions? These are vague questions. First we should define what types of projects there are.
There are two main types:
Business projects - industry specific and focused on solving a business problem. Examples: building a sales dashboard for a product company or a marketing dashboard.
Personal projects - answering a problem or exploring an idea in your personal life. Like making a project based on a hobby.
Now which one should you do? In your portfolio it's good to have a mix of both. Business projects shows you have specific industry knowledge and can create useful dashboards. While personal projects showcase your willingness to learn, curiosity, and your analytical mind. Personal projects are also unique. Most hiring managers/recruiters don't want to see another Titanic analysis project. It can help you stand out as long as the topic works in a professional setting.
In my portfolio I have 6 projects, 3 business focused and 3 personal projects.
Brief Advice on Projects
Before I go into suggestions on how to create a project. Here's a bit of advice on projects themselves.
Tools to Use
You should use whatever tool works best for you. But because we are focusing on data analytics projects a few common tools are:
You should have one project for each skill. Meaning one project should use SQL, the another Tableau, and so on. Feel free to use multiple tools for each project.
Have the best projects on your portfolio. This needs to showcase your best work.
Don't overwhelm the viewer. People are busy and don't have time to look at 10+ projects on your portfolio. I'd recommend a maximum of 6.
Each project should have:
What tools you used
Link or Image to the project
Bonus: A link to a detailed write-up of your project
For more tips on projects check out my post: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Where can you find datasets for your project?
For sites to find datasets check out my blog post: Data Analytics Resources - Sites to Find Datasets Section. For more datasets check out these 10 free datasets from Ian Klosowicz.
Still feel stuck?
Even with all that still struggling to think of a project?
Here's my suggestion: Think of a problem you have or a question you want answered. It doesn't have to be complex. This should be something where you gather data and use that data to help make a decision or explore an idea.
This is most likely going to be a "personal project". This project should be enjoyable to work on. Something you're curious or interested about. Brainstorm a list of ideas and pick which one seems the most interesting to you. As I said before, make sure this is appropriate in a professional setting.
I know this sounds vague and you might have heard it before. You may even say, "okay but I don't even have a problem to solve". So here's a list of 10+ projects ideas help you.
Hopefully that gave you an idea of what you can do for your project. But if not, I've included some basic ideas for projects.
Analyzing what time it's best to leave your house for your commute.
What time of day do you have the most energy? I got this idea from an article by College Info Geek.
How much sleep do you need per night? You can analyze this using an app and see what your energy is the next day
How's your favorites sport team playing? You can analyze this by season or league.
If you post on a social media site you can analyze how well your posts are doing. Looking at likes, comments, and views. Like I did for my LinkedIn Metrics dashboard.
If you're a parent you can analyze the schools in your area. Look at how well they do academically and their sports programs. See what facilities are there. Then you can compare these different schools. (You can also do this with any number of businesses in your area like local food places).
Maybe you're helping a friend have a yard sale. You can do some research on what's the best day and time for a yard sale. Or how many signs should they put up advertising? Should they use social media to advertise the sale as well?
Love a show? Analyze something about it? How many views per episode? What are the top 10 performing episodes? What do they have in common (a certain storyline, particular characters)?
Fan of a particular artist? Look at how well their albums have been performing? Or how well their concerts are doing (revenue, sales, etc.)
How predictive is your local weather station? Does your local weatherperson successful predict when it will rain/snow?
If you want an example of a relatively simple project here is one I did recently.
My latest project
I'm currently searching for a full-time data analyst role. The job market right now is rough, especially with all of the layoffs. So I've been trying to find ways to stand out. One of my connections, Ian Tynan suggested connecting with hiring managers since they're the ones hiring people. He gave some advice on how to do so in his post. Since then I've begun sending out connection requests to hiring managers.
The point of this is to actually talk with hiring managers. That means getting them to accept my connection request so I can message them. In LinkedIn there's two main ways to send a connection request:
Sending a connection request as is. Which lets the other person know that you want to connect with them. They can decide whether to accept.
The other way is sending a personalized message with your connection request. It lets your write something (300 character limit) with the request. When they look at their connect requests they will see your message.
The first question I wanted to answer: What is more successful? Sending a connection request with a personalized invite or sending a "cold" invite?
The second question I had is from Ian's next piece of advice. Which is to message the hiring manager and tell them a bit about yourself and what you're looking for. I wanted to see the response rate of my messages.
I'm analyzing the connection requests acceptance rate and message response rate.
For my personalized invite I don't ask for anything in particular. It's usually something like: "How I found them + what we have in common + why I am connecting with them"
If they accept then I message them with something about myself and kind of the job I'm looking for. I'm not asking the person for a job at their company. I'm letting them know that I am on the job search and introducing myself.
This isn't a real "scientific experiment" but rather an analysis of my experience.
Below is the dashboard I made in Google Sheets. This is still a work in progress so keep that in mind. My goal is to get data from at least a month of doing this. But this is a good start and a project I might add to my portfolio. Even if I don't it's still a learning experience.
The dashboard is split into two main categories: invites and messages. For both I have how many were sent and how many were accepted/responded. Along with the acceptance/response rate. I also included bar graphs for the numbers and pie charts displaying the rates.
Feel free to use any of these ideas. If you do and you're on LinkedIn tag me in a post about it. Hope this helped!