2020, for me as for many others, has been a year of tremendous challenge and change. I started the year burnt-out and in need of a break, eagerly anticipating a holiday to Australia to meet my partner’s sister and explore a new country. Little did I know that not only would this trip be the last chance for me to travel and spend extended time with loved ones for the foreseeable future, but it was a trip that allowed me to regroup, connect with my inner thoughts and make plans for my career.
I’ve spent the last three years working in policy research, evaluation and advisory for a great organisation. I started an eager Masters graduate who knew they had a “knack” for data, but didn’t really know which path to follow. At university I completed training in social sciences and philosophy, data science and machine learning, courses in web development and coding – and I knew I had a keen interest in politics and human behaviour.
Over these years I learned and experienced more than my previous education could’ve prepared me for. I helped my former boss with research for his book, planned and attended global conferences, helped deliver many many surveys and large-scale policy evaluations and provided recommendations on organisational strategy reviews and government programmes.
However, the greatest lessons were the ones I learned from the people around me. I learned to be confident in my ability and training, to be brave and bold, and to be honest with myself and others – both professionally and personally. I became a mental health first-aider and led a talk to the company on my experiences with Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) in 2019. And after this, was invited to speak in further talks, panel events and workshops across the organisation and in my community on wellbeing, working remotely, and mental health support in 2019/20.
Though, practising what I preach, I listened to my gut and knew I wasn’t entirely happy in my job. I couldn’t fault the experiences, so on this holiday, I looked deeper into my passions – what drove me in the world and what I wanted to learn. I had specialised as a consultant in science, tech and innovation and found myself continually signing up to new coding courses and seminars (hello fellow Python learners!).
I realised this is what drove me. Technology. Data-driven decisions. Products. I started following the leaders in software, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), attended several workshops and completed as many quizzes, videos, and articles I could to figure out which classes, courses and ultimately, career options suited me best.
After conducting thorough research (the only way I’d learned how), I finally consulted some humans working in the industry and I decided data engineering was a good fit for my interest and skills. I was lucky enough to find a company that combined my enthusiasm for data-driven decision-making and workplace wellbeing (that was also hiring) and I joined Pirical in November 2020.
Now that I’ve filled you in on how I got here, it might be good to tell you where this is going…
On this site, I aim to share some of my past experiences with you, both personal and professional, as well as some tips for supporting your own and your colleagues’ mental health and all the learning as I navigate my new career path. I’ll also be sitting down for coffee with some people who’ve been on this journey with me, or are here to share journeys of their own with you.
I hope you enjoy reading – I know I’ll enjoy posting!