Rachael Woods

“While understanding the fundamentals can help, it is absolutely not a hard requirement to have a successful and rewarding career in tech.”

photo of Rachael WoodsHow did you find your way into tech?

I’ve always been fascinated by science and knew from a very young age I would want to go into a STEM career. Science and maths were always at the forefront of my studies, and from the age of 15 I was working for my dad’s business as a database administrator. I found it boring at the time, but looking back it really helped me get to where I am today.

It wasn’t until I was in the 3rd year of my undergrad degree that I really found a passion for data and data science – going through a module on using RStudio and its scripting language to do my analytics work sparked such a keen interest that I was genuinely sad when the class came to an end!

This then led me towards my MSc qualification, where I specialized in data science, and then into my first full-time job as a Junior Data Analyst within the games industry. I now work as a Business Analyst in the social housing sector, and I still have the keen passion for RStudio that I had back in 2015!

Tell us a little about your course

I initially completed my BSc (Hons) in Animal Biology in 2016 at Stirling University. My original plan of going into Veterinary Medicine had fallen by the wayside, so I ended up taking a year out and working while I decided my next steps. Upon reflection, I decided I really enjoyed working in data science, and so I completed my MSc in Information Science with a specialty in Data Science at Northumbria University in 2018.

Since then, I’ve gone on to complete various other courses through work and in my spare time including learning Python, Power BI, and Advanced Data Visualisation. Now within my current job in the social housing sector, I am working towards a Level 4 HNC in Housing, which I hope to achieve by the end of 2022.

What interests you about tech?

In my work life, some of my particular tech interests include Automation Processes, Data Visualisation, and Predictive Analysis. Basically, the more efficient I can make something, the happier I am! Outside of work, I am a keen gamer and have been ever since the Gameboy Colour was the console to have. I even took the plunge and built my own PC during the first lockdown, which was a challenging but really fun experience!

What advice would you offer?

I think the biggest misconception when it comes to data science, and tech in general, is that you have to be a maths genius to be able to do it. Fun fact: I was so bad at maths as a kid that I had a tutor for 10 years! While understanding the fundamentals to a range of mathematical principles can help, it is absolutely not a hard requirement to have a successful and rewarding career in tech.

There are also so many transferrable skills that you don’t need to commit yourself to science and technology courses for your education. This can include skills such as problem solving, creative thinking, critical thinking, and attention to detail. Having good communication skills is also highly beneficial, as you will often be collaborating with a range of people across multiple teams and disciplines.