Alumni Spotlight: Nathan Cheever, Data Visualization Engineer at Ancestry

By: Emily Wilson

July 05, 2016

"Data science doesn't mean a thing if it's not communicated effectively," according to recent Metis Data Science Bootcamp graduate Nathan Cheever. We agree, and we're excited to see Nathan putting that belief into professional practice as a Data Visualization Engineer at Ancestry. Read on to find out about his day-to-day work and how his bootcamp experience prepared him for it.


Tell me about your background. How did you become interested in data science?

I took an econometrics class in college and was introduced to R. I enjoyed working in it, and then one day on NPR I heard about the Data Science for Social Good program at the University of Chicago where they used R and Python. My interest was piqued and I started learning all I could about data science, reading tutorials and books, following influencers on Twitter and trying some projects on my own. I slowly began to realize the power of data science and programming to automate data processes and extract information from piles of data. 


Describe your current role. What do you like about it? What are some challenges?

I'm currently at Ancestry working as a data visualization engineer. I like that this position gives me an opportunity to use Python to prepare data for visualizations in D3.js. I'm also learning lots about web development, both front and back end, which is fun! The biggest challenge is the process of thinking through how to make a visualization as impactful as possible while keeping it simple.

In your current role, what aspects of data science are you using regularly?

Definitely the visualization/storytelling parts of data science. Data science doesn't mean a thing if it's not communicated effectively, and that's what I'm hoping to develop while here at Ancestry.


Do you think the projects you did at Metis had a direct impact on your finding a job after graduation?

Absolutely! It gave lots of experience trying hard things and giving me confidence to do just about anything I set my mind to. In the interviews, I showed this confidence, and along with talking about my experiences, I think that had a big impact.


What would you say to a current Metis applicant? What should they be prepared for? What can they expect from the bootcamp and the overall experience? 

Prepare for doing data science by understanding the kinds of problems it can and can't solve. I'm reading a book now called Data Science for Business and it would have been helpful going into the bootcamp. Be prepared to work hard and hit walls. It won't come easy at first but that struggle is where all the learning is, and after the bootcamp yo
u'll not be afraid of struggling - you'll find it challenging and fun. They can expect to learn about interviewing, networking, and coding, but like anything, what you put in is what you get out. Put in all your attention and energy and it will pay you back in the future.


Similar Posts

alumni Ljrykimqrmbfxkslv4ku metis alum blogheader jessica%20(1)
Demystifying Data Science: A Passion for Academic Research Leads to Data

by: Metis Contributor // June 06, 2017

The road to a career in data science is often unpaved and unpredictable. For Metis alumna Jessica Cox, it started with a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and led to her current role as Data Scientist at Elsevier Labs, a scientific publishing company. During her undergraduate studies, she realized how much she adored research. She followed that passion through to a Ph.D. in Biomedical Science, focused on environmental health and nutrition research. That’s when another life-changing realization hit her: she loved data.

alumni W8qf6isogh5tenzmr9go metis alum max
Demystifying Data Science: A Lawyer's Journey into Data Engineering

by: Metis Contributor // May 18, 2017

Like many Metis alumni, Max Farago came from a career quite different from data science. He worked for nearly four years as a lawyer – even running his own practice – and is now a Data Engineer at PreciseTarget, where he’s one of two people with a data background at the retail-oriented startup.

alumni 2ozov8ods1pgpki85zng metis alum blogheader emily%20(1)
Demystifying Data Science: A Math-Loving Hip Hop Fan Becomes an Expert at Spotify

by: Emily Wilson // June 20, 2017

For Emily Hough-Kovacs, it’s not just about the final product when it comes to music. It’s about the intricacies of production, the record label, and the entire creative and business process. Now a Data Scientist at music streaming giant Spotify, she works on the Creator Products Insights Team.