The story of Anna's (47 years old) changeover is like a movie story. After 20 years of managing a market-renowned marketing agency, Anna quits her job and decides to become a data analyst, a representative of one of the most sought-after professions in the IT industry, seemingly having nothing to do with Anna's career path so far.

The story of Anna's (47 years old) changeover is like a movie story. After 20 years of managing a market-renowned marketing agency, Anna quits her job and decides to become a data analyst, a representative of one of the most sought-after professions in the IT industry, seemingly having nothing to do with Anna's career path so far. In an inspiring conversation with Joanna Pruszyńska-Witkowska, vice-president of Future Collars, our heroine talks about her history of changing the industry, an idea for a radical change in life, coding in the bathtub, and the beginnings of working with data.

Joanna: Ania, what was the process of your change like?

Anna: I have been running a marketing agency in the fashion industry for 20 years. I dealt with developing competencies within the organization, creating the structure and agency services. We have worked with global brands and small designers. We had many exciting challenges.

At some point, along with the company's development, I realized that I mainly deal with management, paperwork, and paperwork. In this area, I felt fulfilled - my agency in the industry is a market leader, and it joined an international network of similar organizations. For me, it was satisfying, but… I had already done it all and had little else to achieve.

I also watched our employees develop, learn, make a career, and sometimes leave and do even more interesting things in other places. And I stay with this management. I wanted to do something else, not be a president all my life. I had no idea what it might be. I started looking around for programming groups.

 Joanna: Why were you looking in the IT area?

Anna: Why IT? For our agency, we had to create an application that works until now - we have been developing it since 2003. When an American company contacted us in 2013 with a proposal to sell their application, it turned out that we had already had one for ten years! Developing this app has been very interesting. I got on well with the programmer.

Additionally, programming has followed me for years. In the 1980s, when I was a teenager, they all played games on Atari and Spectrum computers. My dad, a lecturer at the polytechnic university, had a computer that was completely incompatible with the games mentioned, and I wanted them. "Then write it," he suggested, and I wrote. Unfortunately, these squares did not turn into any colorful folk. At this stage, I lost my enthusiasm.

Joanna: What happened that at this very moment you decided to change something? What became the trigger for the need to change? You have obligations, children, husband, dog and you are the president of a respected agency ...

Anna: You can ask yourself what you want, but you can also answer the question of what you don't want to do anymore in your life. I didn't want to be a manager with a lot of stuff. I wanted to develop in an expert direction. I didn't think about programming at the beginning. I was offered a job as a lecturer at Viamoda College, which was a new experience for me. I had to step out of the businesswoman role and teach students. I felt like a fish in the water (I hope my students confirm this), and it opened my eyes to the fact that there are so many different possibilities. Maybe a doctorate? Maybe a book? I felt like a kid in a toy store - I didn't know what I wanted.

 

Of course, The agency always needed me. Someone was waiting for decisions and projects to be implemented. I couldn't just say goodbye. But in the Covid-19 pandemic, there came the point when stores closed, and our customers began to cut project budgets. More significant events and projects with influencers were put aside.

It turned out that there is not so much of this work. After a difficult stage, because costs had to be cut, contracts changed, I thought, if not now, when? If I get back into working in the agency and try to revive the projects, which will not be possible for a long time, I will not find space for a change. Maybe it's time to take care of yourself. The company won't need me that much. I have a great team and a partner with whom we understand each other perfectly. She knew about my plans and supported me.

 

Do you remember? We met on a walk. Then you told me to choose Data Science. My first thought: "What is this !?". I started looking for information, consulted a friend on the Data Science course at Future Collars, and it seemed to me more and more that this was the right way to go. I called my friends to ask if it was a good idea and got their full support. I signed up and got a certificate.

Joanna: Haven't you had any blockages in your head? Did nobody dissuade you from it?

I didn't have type blockers to see if I could handle it. If I can't, I'll learn. I have a reasonably high opinion of my abilities, which life sometimes verifies;)

What I did not know and what surprised me - it was a very intensive course. I thought I would sit down for two hours between lunch and other classes, but I can't. I had to make a radical move - to cut myself off from work, to deal only with my re-branching for a while.

Fortunately, I got good advice from my friend who also works in IT. She advised me to try learning coding through applications before the course. This way, I was supposed to check if it interested me. So I sat on my smartphone in the evenings and coded - even in the bathtub. That was it! This experience was beneficial to me. Certain things, the scope of knowledge, are slightly intimidating initially. 

Joanna: So it's worth using these free materials, online courses, tutorials and blogs beforehand!

Anna: You have to find out what we are going to learn. There is a lot of work on our side at the Bootcamp, and the mentor is there to consult our activities. This is not a school where everything is laid out, written on the blackboard ... Nobody controls our actions ... Self-discipline is important, so it's worth knowing what we will face. Of course, the mentor helps, explains, and guides us if we have a problem completing a task. It is an essential part of the course.

 

Joanna: People interested in particular courses ask what predispositions should be and how we check them. We ask our mentors about it, but they agree that no such essential competencies exist. Everyone can learn everything because it is a matter of motivation, determination, and time devoted. Ania, you have started something again - how does it feel?

Anna: Very refreshing. I recently had math in high school, and the return to mathematical formulas was a bit scary. And here I will add that it was not about learning all this. I do not want to scare anyone away. Simultaneously with the Data Science Future Collars Bootcamp, I was doing an American course with many tasks. These tasks helped me greatly because they complemented the knowledge from the course. There, it was impossible to move on to the next stage if you did not do something.

Additionally, it was satisfying that I hadn't studied so intensely since college, yet my mind was fine. I felt a surge of energy, and thanks to that, I was happy to sit at the computer every morning. It was the summer holidays, and I wrote codes instead of sitting on the beach. I didn't force myself. It was a great pleasure.

 

 Joanna: How has the learning process changed since your studies?

Anna: In my student days, there were no online one courses. The difference is that when you study, you don't know what this knowledge will give you in your life. At the Bootcamp, I had such a thing that I started to think that it is a very future-oriented profession. I know that even marketing is not complete without data analysts. I immediately put what I learned into practice and wondered where it would be helpful in my profession.

I could ask the mentor how it happens in the company - where they get the data, who makes decisions, and what the entire background of their activities looks like. These people work in companies daily and show the practical side of what they teach. 

Joanna: Future Collars courses do not count the bootcamp unless the team project is completed. It can be difficult: the team is dispersed, there is no direct contact. How did you find yourself in this form of work?

Our team was very supportive, but it was not regular cooperation. I have no problem with distance learning because I taught students this way. I feel good about it, and it didn't block me.

During the pandemic, we acquired the competence of online communication very quickly. Everyone got into it smoothly. I don't think it can be otherwise. It is normal.

 Joanna: You have made space for something new in your life, you decided to develop your competences towards Data Science, finished the course and… what next?

Anna: For me, it happened quickly and quite unexpectedly. I found a job within a month and a half of completing the course. I had two options - the first was to become a Data Scientist in any company. The second option is to look for marketing areas where I could use my new competencies.

I answered job advertisements, counting on an internship, even a free one, and the fact that I would be able to go one step higher in six months. At the same time, I had an open mind to marketing positions with the possibility of using new knowledge. I worked very intensively in networking. I talked to people, hacked people on LinkedIn, and tried communicating my competencies.

I got an offer from a friend who knows my marketing and soft skills. I have been working for a month and a half. I deal with marketing activities based on data. I talk to IT departments related to risk (finance) and sales and marketing. I am trying to gather all the data I can get to design effective marketing.

I am in the process of consuming my knowledge and making it useful. I will be able to say more in six months. For now, I am very excited to learn new things.

 Joanna: The Data Science profession in the USA is ranked first in the satisfaction ranking due to the prestige of an expert and advisor. Moreover, the data is new oil - it is very valuable. Did the friend who hired you fear that you are only after the course, without knowledge of the industry and without any specialization studies?

Anna: But I was a bit lucky. I was emphasizing all the time that I didn't want to work in traditional marketing. I wanted to work with data. Another colleague with experience in HR made me realize that I would not be the first choice if I sent an application for a job as a data scientist. You can see in my CV that I was the president and marketer and am just starting in a new area.

That is why networking, LinkedIn, and conversations are so important - with everyone. Communicate what you can do. You can't count on something happening by itself. People of a certain age (I am 47) need a little help with the knowledge they already have.

Previous experience and competencies are very valuable in the transformation process. It is also worth remembering that if you ever have to change something - probably now- you will not be younger.

 Joanna: How are you today?

Anna: I feel very well. I am happy about this change - the past year was very difficult, and thanks to the fact that I am in this place, I have great satisfaction. I am happy even if I am not a typical Data Scientist and will work with such experts.

Joanna: What would you say to yourself from a year ago?

Anna: If you think about change somewhere in your head, it must most likely be made. You have to consider what areas you are interested in so as not to leave the chance to chance. There is no need to be afraid. The worst thing is when life forces you to change. It is better to make a decision consciously.

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