Discover how Melaine is driving education efforts in West Africa using skills learned on Coursera

We’d like to introduce you to Melaine Nyuyfoni Nsaikila. In the story he shares below, Melaine describes how learning on Coursera helped give him an edge in his job search and the tools to continue to make a difference in policy and development. With persistence and determination, he built the technical skills that he now uses daily to contribute to educational development efforts in his home country of Cameroon.

My name is Melaine Nyuyfoni Nsaikila. I was born and raised in rural Cameroon, and I currently work as a Senior Analyst for Effective Basic Services (eBASE) Africa in Cameroon. I also work as a data consultant for an Australian-based firm called Synergy.

I did my undergraduate studies at the University of Boya, which was then the lone English-speaking university in Cameroon. I focused mostly on economics and economic development. Later, I moved to the U.S. under the Fulbright Program, and earned my master’s in Economics at Western Illinois University. 

My professors used to say that econometrics is the laboratory of economics. In other words, economists must be able to deal with data in order to call themselves economists. As I advanced my career in economics, I began to realize how important it was to understand data analysis and data science. However, when I left university and started working in various policy analyst roles on the African continent, I realized that my university education hadn’t equipped me with all the tools I actually needed in the field. At the time, the only data science tools I knew how to use were Excel, Stata, and SAS, all of which had a lot of limitations and could also be pretty pricey. Then, one day, a coworker of mine recommended that I look into the IBM Data Science Professional Certificate on Coursera.

In the IBM program, I learned how to use affordable, industry-standard tools like Python and Jupyter Notebooks. This provided me with an alternative to the pricey data analysis software packages I was used to. Getting used to a new platform was definitely challenging at first, but, for me, it was all a matter of determination and persistence to push through and finish the program. I’m glad I did, because, now, I can analyze data on my own using the Python skills I gained.

After I completed the program, I added the Professional Certificate to my LinkedIn as I searched for another role in data analysis. I think having the certificate on my profile demonstrated my willingness to learn to potential employers. Prior to completing the program, I’d had my LinkedIn profile out there, and my resume all over the place, but when I added the Professional Certificate to my profile, my profile views increased, and I got many more interviews. I also received several job offers, one of which was from eBASE.

I still use the lessons I learned in the IBM Data Science program all the time. Right now, I’m working with eBASE to run an education project in the Lake Chad Basin. We’re doing randomized trials in Cameroon, Chad, Tunisia, and Nigeria, and my data capability in Python–especially in machine learning and text analysis–comes in really handy. I’ve encouraged all seven members of the data team I supervise to try out the IBM program to help further our work.

Learning doesn’t stop when you graduate. Learning continues even at the job site. The IBM Data Science Professional Certificate showed me that, wherever you are in the world, whatever your background, there are resources out there that can help you gain skills and leap to success.

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