From Customer Service To Junior Data Engineer

I am a 22-year-old woman in tech currently working as a Junior Data Engineer. Two months ago, I worked in a customer service role, and I was very fortunate to be offered this role as a secondment. I am now almost halfway through my secondment, working with a great team of people. I am learning about programming in Python and SQL and solving problems within Big Data. My life was completely different three months ago, and I am here to share my story with you.


My background

Just three months ago, I worked as a customer service executive in a fin-tech start-up. I was in this role for nine months, and it was my first graduate job. A year prior, I had just finished my final year exams and was about to graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. I enjoyed my course as I am passionate about understanding human behavior, thinking, and interaction.

After completing my degree, I was unsure of which career path to follow. I have so many interests and passions including psychology, technology, dancing, and writing, I did not know which one to choose. I knew I wanted to help people and I had some retail experience, so I applied for customer facing roles in the corporate sector.

I started a customer service role in a fin-tech company a month after my graduation. During my time working in customer service, I was exposed to other departments in the company including the engineering department. When I heard about programming and the endless possibilities of things you can create with code, I was very interested in learning how to code. I wanted to work in a sector where I would need to use creativity, logic and be challenged to produce projects.

The career shift

My interest in big data first began when I met someone who works in big data, and I asked them many questions about how to code and what problems big data is solving. That person became my mentor, and I was encouraged to learn Python as a good language, to begin with. After hours of working in customer service, I would learn to code starting with the basics of Python and SQL. I would have one session a week with my mentor where I could ask them questions about Python, and they gave me some challenging problems to solve.

I would highly recommend that you get a mentor if you are learning to code. I would not be where I am today if it were not for my mentor. The advice of a mentor based on their experience can help to push you to the next level. I went from:

 

Image from quickmeme.com

To:

 

Image from memegenerator.net

After four months of learning, I had a basic level of knowledge in Python and SQL. During this time, there was a job opening for a junior engineer in the data team within the company. I felt hesitant to apply due to my lack of a technical background. In my efforts to get the job, I researched the role, and I was prepared to express my passion for coding in the interview.

Despite my lack of professional technical experience, I was offered the job as a junior data engineer. I am incredibly thankful to my manager for giving me this opportunity to learn. I am now working in a team of very smart and focused people, who are extremely helpful and dedicated to their jobs.

Challenges I faced learning to code:

While I was learning to code as a complete beginner, I faced some difficult challenges. These included:

Which problems to solve.

Once I learned a few basic concepts in Python, I struggled to know how to apply all of them in a full project. I was lucky enough to have a mentor to provide me with some useful Python projects to work on such as requesting an API. One project I enjoyed working on was calling the Skyscanner API to get the cheapest flights from the user’s chosen destination (you can find my code here). For a beginner, I would recommend projects such as calling to website’s API.

How to problem-solve

When I was given my first python project from my mentor, I did not know how to go about solving the problem. I used to think that I could start off with writing lots of lines of code and I would be done. I did not know that most of the coding is thinking about how to solve the problem. Then, once you have thought of a solution, that is when the coding process begins. So now when I am faced with a problem to solve, I think about the ways to approach solving the problem before applying the solution. Some ways I have gotten better at problem-solving is by playing some challenging games on my phone, reading books and reading online about problem-solving.

How to google search

I have noticed that the difference between a junior programmer (like myself) and a senior developer, is that when I query google, I browse some links before I can find the solution to the problem or bug in my code. However, when a senior programmer googles searches, they locate the solution in the first or second link on google. Google searching is a skill which takes time to know how to do well. I’m working on improving this by choosing better keywords to search.

The imposter syndrome

For a long time, I have been feeling like a fraudster entering the tech world because of my lack of professional technical experience. I honestly felt like people were questioning my existence when they asked me how I got into tech. It took some time before I stopped giving power to my self-doubt, but when I did, I realized that people are interested in my background and I began to accept myself for where I am right now. I am so proud to be in the tech industry, and the people in this industry are so welcoming and helpful.

The present and future

I am still learning about big data, and I use Python and SQL to complete projects at work. I am excited to continue solving more challenging problems. I share my story as proof to the world that you can achieve anything you set your mind to, no matter what degree you studied. I came from a low-income background with a degree in Psychology, so I encourage people with interest in programming to go for it!

In the future, I want to continue to have an impactful contribution in the technology sector, to inspire and encourage diversity in the STEM industry. #WomenInTech


Hey 👋🏿,

Thanks for showing love and reading our content. As a wholly independent and bootstrapped company, we rely upon on our community and readers. If you want to support POCIT go here to our Patreon

Talk Soon!
Michael Berhane, Founder of POCIT
Nadia Ali
Nadia Ali

22 year old Data engineer, psychology graduate, dancer and blogger

Related Posts