How did you get into data?
This is a question I am asked time and time again. Like the majority of today’s data analytics workforce, I didn’t set out for a career in the field. Actually, before my MSc in Applied Statistics, I had no idea that working in data was an option; I wanted to be a teacher.
When we are kids, we play at being a doctor, a teacher, an explorer, a cook … We never go “Oh, let’s pretend we are data scientists!”. Hopefully, it will change in the coming years, but for now, this is our reality.
Growing up in Guadeloupe, a small island in the Caribbean, I had very limited access to technology. I remember being 16 or 17 when our first computer with the internet arrived, and I could only access it a few hours a week. Working in tech never crossed my mind.
“You are wasting your time studying maths!”
Back home, everybody felt like they had a say in what I should study, and for them, studying math was a waste of time. People would say: “What job can you possibly get with a master’s in mathematics? Your only option will be to teach, and there aren’t enough teaching opportunities here!”
Oh! How wrong were they… But who can blame them? You can’t be what you can’t see, and there is a lack of transparency on careers in data. Although it is slowly being addressed, there is no denying the challenges it created for existing and aspiring data professionals. Often, at the beginning of our career, we are unsure of what to expect or what our path could look like. Moreover, the lack of diversity means that some of us struggle to find role models and that our algorithms run on biased data. Fun stuff! I personally faced impostor syndrome and almost dropped out of the field. Thankfully, with support from the community, I was able to turn things around and find my space and my voice.
My hope is that this blog will help data analytics and data science professionals take ownership of their careers, develop to their full potential and find fulfillment.
If you have any questions or want to find more content, you can follow me on LinkedIn.
Until next time…