Meet Jake: From industrial engineering to analytics in tech

learner Story

Meet Jake, a Strategy + Operations Sprint alum at The Commons who pivoted from industrial engineering to Analytics & Insights Strategy at Instacart.

To summarize Jake's career path in 1 line: McGill Engineering --> Structural Engineering (designed structures all around Toronto including additions to the ROM and the Rogers Centre) --> Analytics & Insights @ Instacart (get to work with exciting amounts of data to help drive retailer growth)

Read on to learn more about why Jake decided to pivot into tech, how he leveraged the community to land his role, and why he thinks engineers have a unique skillset to succeed in tech.

First, a fun one … describe yourself in 3 emojis :) 

🧐 – I love to learn new things and get my energy from solving problems

🤝 – I enjoy working with and helping others and get a lot of satisfaction in building something with a team

🛶 – Outside of work I love getting outside and going on adventures (i.e. canoe trips)

Where are you located?

📍 Toronto, Canada

Making the pivot into tech

Why did you want to pivot industries?

I was looking for a new challenge and had always been excited about tech and data.

How has your background in engineering helped you be successful in tech? What are some of the top transferable skills?

My background in engineering has definitely helped me be successful so far! I’m automatically more comfortable with complex SQL queries and other technical concepts, and if there’s something intimidating that I don’t know I’m not afraid to dive in. The top transferable skills from engineering would definitely be problem solving and analytical skills.

How has your thinking around your career path changed over time?

I think it’s become a lot less rigid after making the first big transition; I have more faith in my ability to learn new things and change directions as needed.

Joining The Commons

What did you get out of the Core Sprint with The Commons? Anything unexpected?

The main tangible skills I got were solid SQL experience and the ability to dissect business problems specific to tech. More unexpected was the relationships I built throughout the network – didn’t expect to meet so many great people willing to help!

What should people who are thinking about joining The Commons know about it?

I’d say what you get out of it depends how much you put into it. And considering how much you can put into both a sprint and the community, there’s so much you can get out of it – so don’t hesitate to join and dive right in.

Your Job Search

Tell us about your job search experience.

The nature of my job search changed a lot after doing the Strategy & Operations Sprint – I was able to leverage the #job-openings channel on Slack for leads, and also reached out to pretty much anyone in the community who had a role that interested me. I got a lot of help and feedback from mentors and others in the community, and as a result did a lot more self-reflection (what types of roles did I really want and think I could excel at) rather than just mass applying. Being able to go through The Commons was a great stepping stone when sharing my resume, as it provided a cohesive ‘story’ and logical connection from my previous job as an engineer.

Tell us about your new-ish role at Instacart!

What’s the role?

Senior Analyst on the Analytics & Insights team, within Business Development. We support the BD team in working with retailers on the Instacart platform by using data to derive actionable business insights for Instacart and/or retailers.

How’d you find the role? What prompted your interest in it? 

It sas posted in The Commons Slack! I had heard great things about the company, and the role seemed like a great fit for my skills and wants (in terms of being technical and data-focused, but still being in a business-focused position).

What was the interview process like? 

6 rounds with a take-home case study. The whole thing took around 8 weeks. Everyone I met was super friendly and supportive during the process.

How have the first 6+ months been on the job? 

Really great! I’m constantly learning new things and being put in positions to make an impact.

How did the Strategy & Operations Sprint prepare you for interviews and your new role?

Both the SQL knowledge and the case/business analysis side of the Strategy & Operations Sprint were pretty instrumental. The SQL training served as a great foundation to do my own learning afterwards and also on the job. The case really prepared me for the different metrics and concepts tech companies use to analyze their business, and showed me some effective frameworks for solving the types of ambiguous business problems that I hadn’t been exposed to in engineering.

Any other words of wisdom or motivating thoughts for people who are looking to make a similar career move? 

I’d just say that if you’re not satisfied or feel like there’s more potential to unlock in your career then don’t hesitate. Expose yourself to different people/industries/jobs, and find a way to test out different careers (create your own experience). After that the transition mostly just comes down to self-determination and building a good story. The latter is critical – in order for people to understand why you’re making a non-traditional career transition, you need to be able to logically and convincingly explain the motives behind your aspirations. It sounds more obvious than it is and definitely took me a long time to understand and perfect. And if you can’t create that convincing story then you’re probably not headed in exactly the right direction :)

Something fun to end it off

Tell us some of your favorites:

📚 A favorite book: Pretty much anything written by Murakami

🎨 What you're doing outside of work: Running (we’ll see how long into the winter I can go)

A handy shortcut or productivity hack: Type into the address bar to start a new GSheet (also works for and

Ready to take the next step in your career? Apply to the Strategy + Operations Sprint to learn valuable skills for operations roles and learn from mentors who are rising stars in tech.

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