The Life of the Number-Crunching Analyst

Thousands of economics majors head off to industry each year to work as analysts. They’re lured by the promise that they’ll learn a lot, work hard, play hard and get ahead.  But is it true?  Who better to ask than the brilliant young analyst Elisabeth Fosslien.  And as a good young analyst, she’s distilled her portrait of life as an analyst into charts.  Having once lived the analyst life—my first job out of college was at the Reserve Bank of Australia, crunching numbers and making charts—all of these resonated with me.

The Learning Curve


The Motto


The Lifestyle

The Job Description Generator

The “Balance”

The Mindset

The Brief Respite

The Roadblocks

The Work

The Bonds Created by Time of Day in Office

The Evolution of Relationships with Other Employees

The Jargon

The Overlap of Programs (This is Supposed to be a Venn Diagram)

The Data

The Marry/Date/Kill Game: Microsoft Office Edition

The Heart Attack

The Two Week Extention

The Entire Process

These are fantastic!  Thanks Elisabeth for sharing them with us. And if you enjoyed these, check out the charts Elisabeth compiled for Valentine’s Day, or check out more of her visualizations, here.

Regular Jim

So awesome. So concise. So painfully accurate. I'm more of a db guy but those arcs probably apply to anybody that has to handle any significant amount of data. Thanks for this it made my morning a little easier.


Is it just me, or do people these days usually use "steep learning curve" to refer to something that is very *difficult* to learn initially? (I know it doesn't match the combined meaning of the three words in the phrase, but I'm asking about actual usage.)


Yes, "steep learning curve" usually refers to something that is very difficult in the beginning.


Truly excellent work. Hits the nail on the head - though I envy the proportion of "life" you've got in that pie chart.


Awesome - She forgot to list "At the end of the day" as the most-used Jargon in I-Banking. That was always my favorite, and I have vowed to never use that phase for the rest of my life. It is what it is...


Ah, and don't forget "The reality is..."

That and "at the end of the day" are the two phrases for which I have made a similar vow .

Ammon Fife

Awesome! My life in charts!


Absolutely amazing! Now, when people ask what I do, I am just going to print out a copy of this :)


haha...great..who thought there will b so many ways to explain your work!


It is what it is


10 year analytics vet here :)

whole thing rings true for me to a 95% significance level


what software was used to make these charts?


Just curious Elisabeth, what software did you use to create these graphs?


I use Protovis, which is javascript based, and Paintbrush, a free version of paint for macs. The later is obviously very high tech.


Interesting! Thanks for letting us know.

Of course, MS Paint can be used for the same purpose, but only with the most important data visualizations:


Going to have to reiterate the question that a few people have asked - what is the software you're using to make these? They're so crisp and clean and not powerpoint.

I assume something to do with R maybe?

Tanushree Guha

Couldn't agree more to the depiction of our lives.....awesome stuff!!


NOW I understand what my son does at work! Thanks Elisabeth.


So fantastic! Years ago, I tried to list myself as married to Excel on Facebook. It wouldn't let me.

I'd suggest a bar graph showing that the probability of being assigned more work increases with each of these scenarios: 1) Peering over your cubicle wall, 2) Passing your boss on the way to the bathroom, 3) Encountering your boss in the bathroom, and 4) Standing by the microwave waiting for your burrito to heat up already.


Hahaha. I'm majoring in IT Management - from this, I can already start to imagine what my days will be like. I think the entire process can be applied to many career fields as well. Thanks for the laugh!