Knowledge gaps are inevitable at some point, no matter what degree you get or how much experience you have, I suppose. I finished my MBA in January of 2022. Aside from leadership theory and management courses, there were some practical skills that were thrown in as well. I had to do some data analytics work in a few of the courses and there was some study of project management in one of the courses. While creative Eric is on break from the MFA program until spring classes start, Business Eric decided to try to gauge just how much of a knowledge gap there was in data analytics and project management a year after graduating from the MBA program.
I did the Google Data Analytics Certificate and the Google Project Management Certificate programs on Coursera over the break. Here’s my experience with both.
The Google Data Analytics Certificate
Google estimates this to take 6 months for a beginner, working on it about 10 hours a week. I was able to get through it a lot faster than that. I learned about the data analysis process and the data life cycle, practiced more with spreadsheets and spreadsheet functions, and learned how to use both spreadsheets and SQL to prepare, process, and analyze data. Basically what the means is that I learned how to use data ethically, how to clean data for analysis, and how to use the data for data-driven decision making. I also learned the basics of R Programming and how to use Tableau for creating useful visualizations.
The data-driven decision making aspect of this was what I’d done in the MBA program already. I’m also already pretty familiar with spreadsheet programs (Excel, Google Sheets, Numbers) and have been using them for many years. I had a high school teacher in the early 2000s who was probably a little ahead of his time and made us learn Excel, including how to use functions, inside and out. The school had transitioned to a program for grade tracking that was also based on Excel, and he talked about all the issues associated with that a lot. After he taught us Excel, he had to go assist with recruitment or something when the war with Afghanistan started, because he was either former or active military, and to be honest I don’t remember much else about the class after that.
I’m not saying I’m an expert on data analytics yet, or even that I ever will be, but if I HAD to get an entry-level job in data analytics, I probably could, maybe. The Google certificate program was well crafted and accessible. I can see it being a great entry point into the subject for an entry level job if someone was really interested in going in that direction after being in another field or something.
R Programming was really new for me, but I have some experience with the Python programming language already. However, R was almost nothing like Python. I can learn R, though. What I would struggle a bit with is anything that dives deeper into statistics and mathematics, which I’m sure happens at the mid and senior levels, or maybe even at the entry level, too. There wasn’t a lot of math in the Google certificate program, at least none that the spreadsheets or SQL databases couldn’t be made to do for you.
The Google Project Management Certificate
After I finished the Data Analytics Certificate, and felt pretty good about my knowledge of it, I figured I’d try the same thing with Project Management. There was a Google Project Management Certificate on Coursera as well, so I fired that up and got to work. There was definitely more of a knowledge gap here than in data analytics, but probably only because I’d never had the chance to practice it. I’ve only read about it and taken tests for classes, and most of those tests didn’t get as in-depth on the subject as some might expect. My MBA program sort of included it within an operations management course, so it was there, but the emphasis wasn’t on the framework of project management as much. This Google certificate was all about the framework.
I took me longer to get through this one, but I still got through it fairly quickly. I had to actually create a lot of the artifacts, and a lot of the assignments were peer-graded, so none of us could just say we did it and move on. While the project management process was discussed a lot and pretty close to that of the Project Management Institute’s version, it wasn’t exactly like it. However, for an entry level project manager, it was close enough.
I find project management and the framework that the Project Management Institute uses as the basis for its certifications fascinating. I was so fascinated that I went ahead and did another certificate in project management afterwards, this time from the University of South Florida, called the Designated Project Manager Certificate, and completed that one just as quickly. This certificate program did keep the framework consistent with the Project Management Institute, which would be helpful with certification exams. But, it didn’t discuss the Agile frameworks, which the Google certificate did. Also, if you’re counting, that’s 2 project management certificates that I have now.
I didn’t have to do any of this for my job. I’m not a project manager by title, though I do end up occasionally managing a light project here and there. I don’t necessarily think I’d be able to put many of those projects within the framework of Project Management for the Project Management Institute. I do qualify to sit for the CAPM exam, though, so I’m taking it this month. I probably won’t pass it the first time, but it will help me see what I need to work on if I do want to pursue project management in some way.
Then, Business Eric probably has to take it down a notch so that Creative Eric can focus on the MFA in Creative Writing program for the rest of the spring.
I’m fairly fascinated with both Data Analytics and Project Management for some reason, but Project Management is the most interesting to me so far of the two. We’ll see what I end up doing this year. For now, I’m satisfied that I’ve explored my knowledge gaps and learned a few more things.
But, this is just how I personally deal with knowledge gaps. It’s not necessarily the best solution and might be a little bit overkill. Actual experience is probably better. I don’t know. How do you deal with them? Or, do knowledge gaps even bother you? Leave a comment below and share tips, or your experience with data analytics or project management, or online learning platforms in general. Do you like Coursera? EDx? LinkedIn Learning? Udemy?