Getting Started in Analytics

It’s about the community.

Sure we have heard and seen this quote many times before in blog posts, twitter, podcasts, Jason Thompson, etc.  It’s one of those easy things to say and then forget about it.   I’ll donate to the latest charity drive, and participate in the Analysis Exchange, but surely there is something more we could be doing to help bring new people into this industry, to train them on the right way to do things.   All the pieces are there  numerous books from industry luminaries, the DAA Certification, the UBC online courses, the DAA code of ethics, but there is still something missing.

Look around this industry and there are no true junior people coming in.   Web Analytics or Digital Measurement is not being taught in the vast majority of schools and any sort of implementation skills are not being taught anywhere.  Most people who are in this industry of ours have backed into it through some other career path, and come to the party with many years of real world experience before getting their feet wet in the digital measurement pool.  Where are the kids (sorry, but when I am double the age of most college students I get to say kids) coming out of college that are diving into this space?  There are none, or they are as rare as Kryptonite.  And panels on career development are common now at every conference it seems, so this problem is not going anywhere.

So you’ve made it this far into the post and you are saying “Ok. I agree, but what’s the point ?”   I think we need something else. Something more like the amazing things going on over at Khan Academy.  Something that is free and accessible to anyone.  Once upon a time I created an intern training program that was pretty effective at taking a raw talent and giving them an overview of the digital measurement industry and while I can not replicate the whole thing here, I can provide the framework I put together.  The first section I am going to share is the initial two week plan, if the feedback is good I’ll add more.

Note: By no means do I think this is the only approach, just one that I liked and seemed to work.  By the end of the two weeks you should have a good idea if the intern is showing promise and should continue in the program.   One of the aspects that I like to focus on is the actual presentations that are required of everyone each week.  The faster they learn to build quick, solid presentations and the skills to deliver them effectively the easier it will be for them to present their data findings in the long term.

Intern Training Plan 

Each intern should be provided with access to or copies of the following books.  Prior to the start of the internship the intern should have completely read, Web Analytics an Hour a Day.

Also, each intern should be provided with a set of test websites and analytics accounts to practice on.


  • Demonstrate basic understanding of Digital Measurement fundamentals.
  • Ability to setup/configure basic web site audit
  • Basic Documentation Skills
  • Ability to develop / deploy basic implementations
  • Google Analytics vanilla code
  • Complete 1 analysis exchange project  * Depending on project availability

Week 1:

  • Day 1 : Ensure computer and materials access.  Review objectives with interns
  • Assignment to a mentor/buddy if possible:
    • Schedule an initial meeting with mentor
    • Schedule weekly 1×1’s with mentor
  • Read Big Book Of KPI’s
  • Read the WAA list of definitions
  • Go through the GA Training materials that is instructor/mentor led
  • Pass a test based on the 3 items above along with being able to get the vanilla Google analytics account set up and installed on a test web site.
  • Prepare and deliver a 20 minute power point presentation on their first weeks work.

Week 2:

  • Review of week 1 objectives
  • Introduction into basic site audits and QA practices.  Use of Charles, httpfox, other debugging tools.
  • Perform basic site audit and prepare a sample ppt based on the audit results.
  • Present Site audit findings to team.
  • Prepare and deliver a 20 minute power point presentation on their second weeks work.

So….what do you think?

This IS about the community.  What do you think of the first phase of this training plan to take kids right out of college and turn them into great junior resources for our digital measurement industry?  What would you do differently?

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