student story

Christina Song

Senior Business Analyst @ Scotiabank
Data Analytics Bootcamp, 2021
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It was a normal afternoon, though the sunshine seemed to be brighter outside the window. Excitedly, I called my mentors again to tell them that I just received another job offer, on top of my other three. It was finally my turn to choose, and that felt great.

These offers meant not just better opportunities or higher pay, but more importantly, they meant that the hard work of myself, and my mentors who were always there to help and guide me, paid off. I chose a new direction for my career and made the transition successfully.

I was a Client Associate at the wealth management department at a bank. It was a client-facing role, my job was to support my manager to manage clients’ assets by taking administrative responsibilities.

I am now a Senior Business Analyst at Scotiabank. I work with the development teams as well as the business side. The job excites me because there are always new projects going on, I keep learning new ideas, new information and perspectives.

Thinking back on this journey, I had doubts and struggles, and I had questioned myself. But everything is worth it. I am grateful for having those ups and downs in this process because they did make me stronger.

Why I Wanted a Change

After graduating from SWUFE, a university in China that specializes in finance and economics and obtaining a Master’s degree in business from Northeastern University, working as a Client Associate in private wealth management at a big bank seemed like a decent choice. I quickly got all the required licenses at work, and I was going to continue the path like a textbook-traditional finance professional.

However, as I tried to figure out a clearer picture for my future career plans, I started to wonder if I was really interested in the work I was doing, and eventually, I decided to leave. Among others, two things, in particular, prompted my decision.

First, I realized the learning curve pretty much stopped.  The nature of the job determined that once I gain the specific set of knowledge that is required, such as understanding the financial terminologies and products, and being able to navigate the internal systems, that is it. Not so many new ideas to work on, which limits the space for me to continue to learn and grow.

Second, a significant chunk of my job was repetitive or administrative, a lot of which can be automated but was not due to technological limitations. In comparison, only a small component of the job requires me to be analytical, figure stuff out and find answers, which are things that I actually enjoy.

We spend the most productive 8 hours every day at work, it is such an important part of our lives. I realized my favourite part of the job takes up only 20% of my working hours, and that is not enough. I want to change that.

How I Made the Transition

OK, now, what career do I change to?  I tried to analyze my strengths. I like being logical, analytical. I am a quick learner and am driven to keep growing. But these do not point to a specific career path.

Do you know those career-interests surveys or work-style tests that are designed to help you find the one thing that is your “true calling” or the one thing you do the best so that you can make better career decisions? I always had a hard time picking a clear answer to those questions, because I really do not have a clear preference. I used to get frustrated because of that. I thought it was just me, but when I spoke with my friends, I realized that a lot of people have the same struggles.

How do you solve that puzzle? My answer now is pretty simple. First, find the jobs where you can use your strengths, or those that match the general idea of what you might like. Try doing the job if you can. My previous work experience enabled me to uncover more of my interests and what I am good at, and that gave me a basic idea. This way would be the easiest if you are still in school, take advantage of the valuable internship opportunities that are available to you.

Though, for someone who has started working, it might be more difficult because the cost of trial is higher. In that case, the second method would be the key. Talk to people who are working in the areas that you want to explore so that you will understand what it is like on the other side. Start networking, join professional groups, seek information from all sources.

In my case, I learned about WeCloudData through a friend who took the Data Analytics Bootcamp and spoke highly of it. Because the contents are analytical and technical in nature, I decided to give it a try. I also thought of it as an opportunity for me to know more about other roles, careers paths, and continue to explore my interests.

It turned out to be a wonderful choice. There are a couple of things I love the most about the program.

  1. The well-designed, quality courses allowed me to upscaled my technical skills within a short time frame.
    • The curriculum focuses on the key tools that are required for Data Analytics/ Business Intelligence roles, such as Excel, SQL, Python and Tableau, which is perfect for someone with limited or zero experience in the field, because everything you learn is very practical, very to the point, and exactly what is required in the real-world workplace.  

    • Each cohort runs for about 3 months, classes are 3 hours long, held on every weekday evening. There are SQL and Python workshops on the weekends, too.

    • The compact schedule makes it an intensive program, and it pushed me to achieve breakthroughs. The set schedule provides a structure that helped me to get into the “study mode”, because I know I must spend this much time studying a topic so that I can follow along and get the most value out of the program. I expect myself to devote at least 3 hours every day to learn new skills, and I must take it seriously.

    • There were also challenges, for example, I really had to put in extra hours for coding, like writing Python because I had close to zero experience prior to the Bootcamp. Having a growth mindset is important. It is never too late to learn a new skill such as coding. Use effective methods, practice, take it easy but be persistent. Because pushing through is like playing a game. You practice, you get better, you level up. The process not only gives you skills but also builds up the confidence you need in your job search, especially when you are steering your career in new directions.

    • The immediate feedback I was able to get from the practices and projects, as well as direct communications with the instructors, enhanced the results.

  2. The program adds credibility.
    • Being a total beginner in coding and with limited data analytics and business analysis experience, I needed to come up with other ways to convince the employers that I can do the job.

    • Accredited courses WeCloudData Bootcamps will add credibility to my profile. After successfully passing the tests, completing the curriculum, and finishing projects, I proudly added the WeCloudData Certificate of Completion to my LinkedIn page.

    • The projects we completed in the Bootcamp helped tremendously in my interviews. My previous work experience had few applicable stories, but I was able to leverage the projects I did at WeCloudData as examples to show the employer that I have used these skills in a real-world-like environment, I do have the skills and I am the right fit.

  3. Additional value in the program.
    • The Bootcamp is more than just the courses, it is a beginning of many possibilities. For example, it is a good platform for networking. Your peers come from different backgrounds and experiences, and they bring fresh perspectives and information you might not know before. You will also share a lot in common, you are here because you all have goals, you all have put in thoughts and work into your career development, and you are going to go through the intensive program or work on projects together. This will be a bonding experience and you will find friends here.

    • The mentors at WeCloudData are very professional, approachable and helpful. They are experts in their domains and are great resources if you want to understand more about different industries, companies, career paths, etc.

    • I learned a lot of insights and experiences and practical advice from the instructors and mentors. In fact, I became interested in Business Analysis mostly from my communications with the mentors. I think it is a great role in which I can leverage my communication skills gained from previous client-facing experience, fulfill my curiosity, and it would allow me to be analytical and solve real problems. I eventually got 4 offers within 3 months that are Data Analytics/Business Intelligence related and chose the senior Technical Business Analyst role. I now spend most of my 8 hours doing things that I enjoy.

Final Words

If you are reading this, you are probably actively planning for your career, and you want some changes. It could be to switch to a completely different career path, it could be to advance your skills so that you have a broader view and more options. It may not always be an easy choice, but once you decided, go for it. Have a growth mindset, commit to your goals, keep your head up, and work for it. Best of luck in your own journey! You will get there.

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