Is Data Science for Me?
My anchor question for this post is: Should I transition into a Data Science career? I am a recent MBA graduate from Liberty University. I decided to go back for my Master’s degree ten years after I earned my undergraduate degree because I was working “dead-end” jobs after college. I originally moved to Charlottesville from NYC because my fiancé (now husband) was offered a job. I was working as a receptionist for a clinic in the Charlottesville area and I felt like I was overworked, overqualified, and underpaid so I decided to enroll back in college to get an educational experience in my field of Human Resources. I received a job offer in Richmond in my field and was promoted to my current position during my last semester in graduate school. I am still in this position, over two years later and after looking at my boss’s analytical reports, I decided that I am interested in working with numbers, data, metrics, and analysis. I moved back to Charlottesville in March 2018 and started researching data science programs. I was looking at online programs at Syracuse, Wake Forest and came across an ad for an online program at UVA. I also looked at online boot camps such as The Flatiron School, General Assembly, and more.
I reached out to recent alumni (people that graduated from the program in the past 2–3 years) of the MSDS (Master of Data Science) program at UVA on LinkedIn. I received three responses: the first response referred me to a website that has basic information on data science, another alumna was traveling on business and was unable to chat prior to this post, and the only person that I spoke to gave me valuable information about the program, admissions, and the curriculum. I intended the call to be for 10–15 minutes only, but it turned into a half hour.
To be honest, I initially dreaded this project because I am not a UVA student yet, and I felt weird cold-calling or reaching out to strangers online, but I was surprised that I got at least one response. I am also going to be a non-traditional student (I am married and I will be near 40 before I know it) that will have to sit in a classroom again. I also wanted to work in a STEM field because as a woman of color, we are grossly underrepresented. I initially majored in Information Technology during my undergrad career, but I changed my major after being discouraged by a sexist professor about my career choices. I want to prove my doubters wrong and be a role model for other women of color and older students that it is possible to work in STEM and it is never too late to change careers.
Getting a response from a UVA Alum means that they really care about their school and prospects. The cities that I have lived in had no alumni chapters so I have not been in contact with my school (other than interacting with classmates). I am still deciding when I plan on starting the program at UVA (I am aiming for Fall 2019) or moving forward with an online boot camp. Thank you HackCville for giving me that nudge to “break the ice” by networking, and encouraging me to expand my boundaries. I couldn’t have done this with you.