This summer I have had the opportunity to participate in a new skills certification program provided by the Boerigter Center for Calling and Career and the Van Wylen Library. Through a series of online training modules, I am learning how to use a software platform called Tableau

Tableau is an analytic software that focuses on interactive data visualization in order to help people see and understand data. It’s a tool to allow people and businesses to harness data to solve problems in a fast, easy, beautiful, and useful way. Unlike other software platforms, Tableau strives to be usable for anyone and everyone, which some fellow students and I were able to experience firsthand.  

Screen shot of Tableau platform

The Tableau e-learning program is set up in a very straightforward manner that makes the learning process easy to follow along and very doable. To obtain the Tableau certification, you have to pass three “Desktop” courses which go through the fundamentals of Tableau Desktop (what is used to analyze data and create visualizations as pictured above), boost your skills by building off of the fundamentals, and then dive into the advanced skills. 

Each desktop course is made up of modules, and each module has 3+ lessons: an overview graphic, a concept video, a demo video, and an activity. All of the videos are a great way to learn the software because as the person talks you through what they’re doing, you watch how they do it too, and then right after you get to do it yourself in the activity. They do a great job of explaining what’s going on, and the activities are the perfect “hands-on” experience needed to solidify what the videos taught.    

Participating in and completing this experience will be a great benefit for me and my fellow students who are getting the certification this summer.  

  • First, data analytics is an important aspect of business and can be used in so many ways to improve and better understand different companies, whether competition or clients. So knowing how to analyze data and create visualizations to tell a story through the use of a software like Tableau will definitely help students like myself stand out to employers.  
  • Second, Tableau (or a software like it) is used by a lot of organizations, so knowing the program will make learning any of the others so much easier. Plus, companies like to see previous experience with a software, as well as an understanding of it and the ability to use it effectively.
  • Finally, learning a software like Tableau is no easy task. By taking on this initiative the cohort I am a part of can showcase how teachable we are, our eagerness to learn, and our ability to work independently. Also I should note this wasn’t mandatory. We chose to participate during the summer (even amidst a global pandemic when life almost shut down), which shows we have a desire to keep growing and learning outside of the classroom, to better ourselves and to prepare for our future in the workforce. 

I am so thankful for the Boerigter Center and the Van Wylen Library for providing this opportunity! I am also extremely grateful for the generosity of the Hope alumnus, whose donation made this possible at no cost to students. I hope to see more certification programs like this available in the future. 

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