Stories/Angel D'az
Angel D'az

Angel is a Data Engineer working on automating ETL pipelines for Data Analysts/Scientists. He is also an Adjunct Professor.

#data engineer

Tell us about yourself

I started college in 2010 as a music major. I eventually found Business Analytics as a career path in 2015. Like many in the data field, I started on the analyst career path. Specializing in Data Science had too many barriers to entry for someone like me; a budding career, person of color, and only a Bachelor’s degree.

I was drawn towards the clear business value of ETL scripting after writing my first C# script during an internship. Automating data processes is how I found my current specialization as a Data Engineer. I’m currently working on data infrastructure products to make Data Analysts/Scientists as effective and efficient as possible.

How did you first get started in your career in tech?

I started by collecting data from delivering pizzas. It started off as an Excel project, which led to Python, which led to statistics, and even giving a talk about it at PyData 2018. I think the best way to develop skills is to follow your own curiosity. If you have an internal question, you learn so much from the process of answering it yourself.

What are the most important skills in your current position? How did you develop these skills?

Technical reading comprehension is the most important skill for my position. When I first started my Data Engineering position, I would write code and search for fixes online when it broke. In contrast to now, I spend much more time reading documentation and source code. Reading source code and documentation helps me write code with fewer errors on the first draft.

What are some resources that helped you in your journey in tech?

Stumbling through Wes McKinney’s Python for Data Analysis was very enlightening for me. I also loved Khan Academy’s course on SQL.

As a Data Engineer, databases and scripting are important fundamentals. I recommend finding out your path’s fundamentals and working on them before moving on to newer, or more popular, technologies.

What difficulties did you face in your career? How did you overcome them?

Most of my difficulties have come from a large personal ambition mismatching with potential employers who have wanted me to “pay my dues”. Fortunately, I am stubborn and have found people who are willing to take a chance on me. But as a Latino, I have had to go through many rejections in order to make the career moves that I have wanted.

Looking back on your career, what advice do you wish someone had given you that would have helped accelerate your career?

In terms of practical advice, I wished someone had told me that tech specialization was achievable even with my Music degree. I would have gotten a Computer Science minor, left school 3 years earlier, and hustled my way into a technical role.

A lot of us first-gen, people of color have gone through much suffering. It is important we take care of ourselves. We need healthy first-generation, people of color, in the tech community. Look after yourself by napping, going to therapy, etc. Whatever you need to do.

Thank you for sharing your story with us. How can we support you?

I have also have a free newsletter called “Music and Tech”. It is small but has a lot of heart. Feel free to check it out: https://angelddaz.substack.com/


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