PIT STOP: Career Changer’s SDSC’18
When I first realized my interest in data as a career goal, I was teaching in a classroom of preschool special needs kids. Often times when you mention data as a profession, people get the idea that it simply refers to an Excel spreadsheet of numbers possibly involving a bit of copying and pasting here and there. Little do they know just how much you can learn from these numbers. It’s not all just graphing what you learned while others do the actual science experiment. That is just a tiny portion of what working with data is. Thus, my career transition began.
One of the first things that I had found while Googling all aspects of the data field was the Southern Data Science Conference. As someone who was just mustering enough courage to consider a career change, I was curious but hesitant about the conference. Because many data-related jobs required a Master’s or a PhD, the con-goers must be way more knowledgeable than the average mid to senior-level worker, right? Would they be difficult to talk to or even understand because of the breadth of knowledge they possess? Despite those questions, when I learned of a diversity scholarship opportunity for SDSC’18, I jumped right on it seeing that a chance was a chance no matter how slim. I stayed up late that night to get my application submitted and impatiently waited for the results. That paid off because I ended up receiving one of the scholarships!
My experience at the conference was a warm and welcoming one. It was refreshing to meet so many talented individuals working in this field that I was interested in and it certainly affirmed my own interest. Admittedly, most of the talks were over my head as the closest thing that I’ve done to working in this field was taking a statistics class back in college. However, my desire to understand the talks prevailed and I ended up tweeting what I could understand and what stood out to me for almost every talk. For me, these were baby steps to getting myself immersed. (I later found out from another con-goer that even though she works in the data field, most of the talks were also above her understanding.) Nonetheless, I was grateful for such a fantastic opportunity to get exposure to this field and determine my next steps in career changing.
Fast forward two months and I found myself speaking at Women Who Code’s WeRise conference. I am even more confident than ever of my interest in working with data. I’m itching to learn more SQL and wanting to explore other analysis tools. While my talk wasn’t any in-depth, super-secret industry knowledge, it gave me a sense of satisfaction to show others that you don’t need a fancy degree to start exploring the uses of data. I may not have finished my career transition yet but I now have a clearer path on how to get there. Without the diversity scholarship, attending the conference was out of the question. Instead, I would still be frozen thinking that the only way to break into this field would be to get a higher degree. Above all, I would have lingered at 70% certainty of my calling. Now, I’m at 99% because there is always some degree of uncertainty.
Follow my journey on Twitter @dangconniedang or on LinkedIn…..I do occasionally retweet cat pics although I try to keep that on Facebook.