“I think the beauty of Data Science is there is no limit on what you can do, and you can explore any interest using Data Science.”
How did you find your way into tech?
My journey in becoming interested in tech is not one I expected. I currently work as a Management Information and Workflow Analyst within the financial services, a sector I have worked in for almost 9 years. I started off at the age of 19 as a Customer Service Agent. To allow me to be as efficient as possible, I gradually taught myself Excel at an advanced level to allow me to build workbooks, so I could do my job easier and quicker. This has been vital in my career progression and really helped me stand out in the crowd.
I have also always been very inquisitive when it comes to understanding how things work, so straight away I started looking into how different sources of information spoke to different applications. This became a bit of a hobby for me. In my current employment, I was involved in integrating an API to support the sourcing and assessing of customer information and the exposure to this ignited more need to understand how it all worked.
I began looking into courses I could do in my spare time starting with some programming languages. This never felt like work to me and was, and still is, something I really enjoy. I thought this would always just be something I did in my spare time to enhance my skills for work but to my delight, through Skills Development Scotland, I have been able to study at degree level whilst integrating this into my current job.
Tell us a little about your course
I am doing a Data Science course at Stirling University. This involves me working four days a week and having one day of online university. The course so far has already taught me so much, including things I never expected to be thinking about during a Data Science course. When completing an assignment covering Social and Professional Issues there were areas of accessibility I had never considered. I found this very thought provoking, to the point I have adjusted the presentations I deliver in my full-time job.
The programming side of the course is something I really enjoy. I am still at the stage where my code rarely works first time, but all the fun is understanding why this isn’t working and challenging yourself to keep going until it does. There is always help at hand and everyone involved is so passionate about Data Science that you always learn something new every conversation you have whilst feeling inspired.
What interests you about tech?
When I originally started my course all my interests and ambitions were in understanding APIs within the Fin Tech arena. I used to think about data and think about businesses and finance. In a short period of time I have heard about some amazing social studies, including studies around depression and around supporting the elderly to keep as much independence as possible, using data and programming. I find these studies inspirational and it makes me proud that the course I am studying could lead me to being involved in creating something that helps improve quality of life for people who need it and really make a difference.
What advice would you offer?
When I left high school, I went to university to study Chemical Engineering because I always did well in maths, physics, and chemistry. After my first year I dropped out as I didn’t feel as if the course suited me and didn’t enjoy what I was learning. I was never really into computers or coding, so if you were to tell 18-year-old me I would be working in the area I work now whilst studying Data Science, I probably would have laughed then had a moment of fear. If I knew what I know now, I would have got into Computing and Data Science as early as I possibly could have.
I think the beauty of Data Science is there is no limit on what you can do, and you can explore any interest using Data Science. The content and assignments really speak to my love of problem solving. The course itself is so well structured that you don’t have to be code savvy to be successful and the four years is about building your knowledge constantly in harmony so that you never stop using something you’ve learned in the different semesters.