Asked an older friend for career advice as I am trying to enter a new industry — Data Analytics.

Friend asked:

  1. Are you really keen on entering this industry?
  2. What are you passionate about? (edited this question for clarity)

On hindsight, my initial reply was subpar. Having the time to digest the questions further...

  1. Yes. A strategist by nature[1], I enjoy connecting the dots. However, with overwhelming data, how can one manipulate and sift through the data in order to arrive at objective and data-driven strategies. In order to become an effective strategist, I want to have real-world technical experience manipulating data to better understand how it works. From experience, a combination of technical and business skills has become a niche that hopefully is a USP[2].

  2. I used to be passionate about some issues. With age, and possibly mingling around much older friends, I've learnt to mellow out and take a step back. To be contented with life. Yes, one can aspire to be an employee at a highly sought after company, but I've learnt to accept that different companies have different cultures and are at different growth stages. What a large company offers, might not be applicable or possible for a small one.

This doesn't mean I'm less chiong[3]. Due to training under good ex-bosses, I've learnt to have high work standards, but should circumstances beyond my control mean that the project/work doesn't turn out as planned, I've learnt to not dwell on it and move on.

On a personal level, this is possibly the only aspiration. Long story ahead...

As a young child, I would pore through 'PC Magazine' and other technology magazines. Thanks Dad for subscribing! He also bought the latest gadgets[4] and let me play with them. He also got dial-up when it first came out and was expensive! Hello Internet! All this led to me getting interested in IT and self-learning HTML and CSS from library books and online resources. StackOverflow and W3Schools thank you! I later decided to further a Diploma and Degree in Information Systems.

However, these courses had many male students. I didn't think too much about it, but it really hit hard when I entered an IT department and became 1 of 3 females out of about 10 employees. The guys were very helpful, friendly and kind, the gender imbalance just felt odd.

Later, I realised it wasn't that odd. It was normal in STEM. After that I joined other more gender-balanced industries[5].

Now, 10 years later. The tech sector draws me back. I can't explain how much tech fascinates me — the speed, innovation and open-ness of it. Also, with the gender-imbalance, I hope to become a statistic in the growing female technical roles, despite following the non-traditional IT route[6].

  1. Heck, I've been doing it since young. It seemed so natural to contextually connect big picture dots, that only when ex-boss highlighted it, then did I realise it was a possible strength. ↩︎

  2. Unique Selling Point. ↩︎

  3. In this case, 'ambitious'. ↩︎

  4. Creative Jukebox and digital camera that used floppy drives as memory sticks anyone? ↩︎

  5. Not that I intentionally sought gender-balanced companies, the jobs just happened. ↩︎

  6. Traditionally, IT people jump straight into technical careers right out of university and move upwards from there. I went into different non-tech industries and pursued a Museum Education qualification. ↩︎