Where are you working currently, and what do you do there?
I am a Data Scientist on the Data Science Campus at the Office for National Statistics (ONS). I currently work on the ‘Levelling Up’ team, responding to government requests and internal projects to provide insights on inequalities in the UK. The aim is to inform decision-makers in support of the public good.
Can you tell us a bit about your education and career background?
My bachelor’s degree was actually in Primary Education. I started working in schools in 1998, firstly as a Support Assistant then as a Teacher and, ultimately, as a school leader.
What motivated you to start digital skills training with BrainStation?
Working in schools is full of highs and lows! I am so proud of my work in the classroom and I have some great memories. However, 2020 gave me (like many) the time to reflect and consider ‘what next.’ A foray into online learning got me into coding then data science. I actually researched six bootcamp providers but BrainStation won hands down from my very first conversation with a Learning Advisor. BrainStation gave me the belief that a career change was achievable rather than just a pipedream.
What was the highlight of your learning experience?
For me, the absolute highlight was having the opportunity to work with others in an actual class. Clear instructions and quality learning resources allowed for easy review of topics during and after the course. I was taught by four Educators who complemented each other so well and supported us all brilliantly.
What were your thoughts about the online learning experience?
Cohort-based learning was non-negotiable for me. I had done enough learning alone and I needed my fix of the classroom again. I was hugely impressed by the professional, knowledgeable Education Team and the different approaches that kept the course so engaging.
BrainStation gave me the belief that a career change was achievable rather than just a pipe dream.
How has your BrainStation experience impacted your career?
By far, the greatest impact was on my confidence. I did not have a technical background and any career change can feel like a gamble. This course is pitched to ensure that all students can be career-ready; for those with a technical background, there are also materials to challenge and develop. I left BrainStation with a proficiency in multiple technologies. I use Python and R in my job mostly, with projects ongoing in statistical methodologies, NLP and computer vision already. The bootcamp also prepared me well for Agile working in my team.
What was your Demo Day experience like?
I recommend attendance at a Demo Day, having experienced this both as a student and a Teaching Assistant. It gives an authentic insight into the learning experience.
Can you tell us more about your final project?
My Capstone project — Intelligent Rail — employed machine learning techniques to predict the factors influencing rail delays and applied models to diagnose the sections of line most vulnerable to delay. More than anything, this project gave me a great insight into technical project management and being open and realistic about what can be achieved in the time available.
As a Teaching Assistant, what recommendations would you make to help students get the most out of their learning experience?
Ask questions. Then ask more questions! Book one-to-one time with the Education Team. There was no greater pleasure for me than helping other students out with technical issues, coaching them to discover solutions themselves or simply providing encouragement.
What advice would you give to professionals considering a BrainStation course or bootcamp?
Go for it! I used to think that my situation was unique. It is true that any career pivot will be unique to the individual but the pure desire to ‘better yourself’ unifies everyone within the vast, supportive BrainStation network and community. I’m happy to talk to anyone about my fabulous experience!
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