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Online Master’s Program Delivers Quick Return on Investment for Michaela Bottone

NW MISSOURI M.S. Data Analytics graduate Michaela Bottone

Michaela Bottone has found an algorithm for success.

Less than one month after graduating from the online Master of Science in Data Analytics program at Northwest Missouri State University in December 2021, she landed a new job.

“I turned in my last project on December 10th,” she said. “I took the holiday off to spend time with family. On January 1st, I turned on LinkedIn and got set up.

“Two weeks later, a recruiter from Shamrock Trading Corporation reached out. I did two interviews, and they contacted me with an offer.”

Bottone is now a data analyst for the company, based in Overland Park, Kansas. Before that, she worked for Answer Financial for nearly five years.

“We moved from Tennessee to Kansas because my husband, Dr. Ethan Bottone, now teaches geography at Northwest,” she said. “I looked at the master’s degree programs they had, thinking I would take a couple of computer science courses here and there.

“It so happened that Northwest was starting a data analytics program. Everything lined up perfectly. I was excited to add formal training to what I was doing in my day-to-day work.”

The flexibility of the online format, along with a favorable work schedule, helped Bottone double on courses to complete the program in 12 months and become its inaugural graduate.

“I loved it,” she said. “My previous job let me do four 10-hour days a week, so I took a whole extra day to do schoolwork.

“If I had a regular 9-to-5 job, I could see where it still would have been manageable by taking evenings to do my work. The pacing of the program was great.”

Practical Application

Bottone grew up in east Tennessee, where she showed an early aptitude for what eventually became her career.

“I’ve always been a bit of a data nerd, but becoming a data analyst wasn’t on my radar at 10 years old, an age when my peers knew they wanted to become firemen, astronauts and nurses,” she said. “Looking back, I can see how this role would end up becoming a good fit for me.”

While earning a bachelor’s degree in geology and environmental studies with a minor in secondary science education from the University of Tennessee in 2016, Bottone did one semester as a seventh-grade science teacher.

“I greatly enjoyed the teaching part, but quickly learned that there was so much more to the job,” she said. “It wasn’t the right fit for me. I bring a lot of skills I learned in teaching to what I do now, such as being able to discuss technical information with non-technical stakeholders, assess the understanding of my audience and adapt my presentation in real time to their needs.”

After graduating in 2016, Bottone started her career in insurance sales before finding her true calling.

“Any time I found a pattern or a trend in my audits, I would forward that along to my boss and say, ‘Hey, this could be an issue if it snowballs,'” she said. “When they were creating a data analytics team for compliance, they asked me to join.

“I started my data analytics path as someone who was self-taught. I turned to internet resources such as YouTube to learn what a dashboard is and how to make one. It’s great to be able learn on your own, but sometimes that will only take you so far. I had barely scratched the surface by trying to learn about data analytics on my own. I enjoyed it so much that I dove right in when the opportunity to further that learning arose with Northwest Missouri State University.”

Data Analytics Fundamentals, taught by Dr. Denise Case, was Bottone’s favorite course in the online master’s degree curriculum.

“I loved all of the courses, but Dr. Case built a fantastic start to the program,” Bottone said. “I was not the only self-starter who gravitated toward data analytics. In my classes, there were people wanting to change career fields. Some classmates joined the program directly after finishing their undergraduate studies and others were already working in the field but wanted to advance their careers.

“My classmates came from all different experience levels and backgrounds. Northwest did a great job of meeting us where we were and giving us the tools we needed to be successful in the classroom and beyond.”

Real-Time Data

Quick completion of the online program was possible for Bottone because her family made for a strong support system. She worked full time while earning an advanced degree.

“They were so excited for me,” she said. “My mom, Angie Beverly, texted me every day to tell me how proud she was of me. She would say, ‘Go to bed early. You have a test tomorrow.’ I would say, ‘Mom, it’s online. I can take it anytime.'”

Building relationships with faculty members and classmates while utilizing resources helped Bottone make the most of her time and work in the program.

“Any chance I get, I tell people where I went to school and what I did,” she said. “I say to them, ‘What else are you going to do during this quarantine?’ I have no regrets that I spent my extra time at home during the COVID-19 pandemic getting my master’s degree. The investment in my education is already paying off.”

The experience of earning a degree online also translated to Bottone’s new job at Shamrock Trading Corporation.

“I was initially offered a hybrid position rather than a remote one,” she said. “I believe that demonstrating my success at learning and working in a virtual environment during the master’s program helped smooth the way for the offered remote position, which I accepted.

“Knowing that the degree made me competitive in my field means a lot. The program gave me a great foundation to build on.”

Learn more about Northwest Missouri State University’s online M.S. in Data Analytics program.

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