The Road Leads to Data Analytics: How a Loan Helped John Bellard Down his Tech Path
Bet on yourself—that’s John Bellard’s motto. After graduating from UNC Asheville with an undergraduate degree in business administration, he moved to Charlotte. John spent a few years trying roles at a few different companies before deciding he wanted to do something more technical. When he voiced his interest in shifting gears from administration to data analytics, his employer pushed back a bit. The company was wary of letting John, with no formal training in analytics or computer science, venture into a data-heavy role. So he started looking into data analytics boot camps.
He floated the curriculum for the Data Analytics Boot Camp at UNC Charlotte by a few of his higher-ups—and they gave him the green light. John promptly applied and was accepted, but he wasn’t able to secure financing at the time. He pushed off the boot camp, knowing he couldn’t afford the program on his own.
Just when he had all but discounted the program, John found a loan that made it possible. “The Climb loan seemed like a no-brainer,” he said. “There were no hoops to jump through. I applied for the loan and was signed up for the boot camp within a week.”
Creating work with real-world implications
John loved the entire boot camp experience. While it wasn’t easy to juggle the course alongside his full-time job, John made it work. The social aspect was a huge bonus for him, too. “I found a great group of classmates and we all teamed up from the very beginning,” he said. “Having a study group to work with really helped. I still talk to most of them every day; they’ve become some of my closest friends.”
John had taken some computer science courses in college and had a foundational understanding of syntax and code; still, the learning curve was steep. “I ran track in college, so I’m used to a crazy schedule,” he said. “But in terms of the time commitment and dedication required, this was even crazier.”
John was energized by the group work and dove headfirst into his projects. “The projects were the best part of the whole course,” he said. “They were hard, but being able to see how everyone came up with ideas, tackled problems, and achieved their final results were amazing.”
For their final project, John’s group chose a real-world application. They researched, identified, and located wells in Tanzania. They then charted them in Tableau and linked them to the communities they serve. Since attending the boot camp, the project has resurfaced in an unexpected way. One day not too long ago John was walking out of the mall when a woman approached him asking for donations. She was collecting money for villages in Tanzania in need of water. He showed her the link to his project, and she was head over heels for the work. The freedom that John had to use any dataset he wanted was a huge perk—it’s what allowed him to do work that not only mattered to him but also gave back to a larger community.
Landing at an exciting new career path
Throughout the boot camp, John was pushing his employer to transfer him into an open analyst position. About halfway through the program, he ended up getting an external contractor job at the company. He accepted and dove right into data analytics. “It was good for where I was at that time,” said John. “But it was definitely hard taking the course and starting a new job all at once. There were so many things I had to learn—all while I was learning how to code. I think about it now, and I’m not sure how I did it.”
John has since moved on from that role, but it was a pivotal experience—it empowered him to get his foot in the door and gain relevant experience as a data analyst.
Now, John is a data and business analytics consultant at CapTech Ventures, an IT service management company.
“Bet on yourself,” said John. “That’s the best advice I can give. When you do something like this, employers see your commitment above all else.”
John questioned himself when he didn’t immediately see how he was going to pay for the program, but he persevered to career-changing effect.
“If I didn’t stay dedicated and exhaust all my options, I never would have found the Climb loan. You have to stay committed—and ask for help. It’s there, and nobody is going to let you fail but yourself.”