For those of us working in the technology industry, the pivotal role that data plays for organizations, and the job opportunities it can provide, will come as no surprise. And for many young people who are leaving education, the prospects are not always as obvious. That is why we have decided to help provide some guidance to the next generation of data experts as part of our presence at TC19.
Our own Eva Murray, Tableau Zen Master, has taken on Seffana Mohamed-Ajaz as a mentee, who is currently going through The Information Lab’s Data School, working as an analytical consultant. Since Seffana is over at TC19 with us, we thought we’d catch up to hear her story.
I’ll be honest, when I first started at The Information Lab, I needed to get a job. Like many others, after finishing my degree, I needed a starting point. And it soon became clear that this was more than just a job, it was a chance to kick off a career.
Seffana is currently completing a two-year contract with The Information Lab. Having started with four months of training at The Data School, designed to give consultants a deep understanding of how to store, manage, prepare, and visualize data, she is now working through four industry placements with clients who use Tableau and Alteryx. It is this time in industry that has inspired Seffana to consider what her next steps are likely to be in her career. But where do you start?
Don’t be afraid to ask
Once I’d completed the first week of my first six-month placement at JLL, I came back to The Data School and started seeking out career advice from Carl Allchin, one of our head coaches. Carl told me to set up a meeting with James Baker, Global Director of BI at JLL, to talk through how he had built his career. And thus began some serious networking! I moved on to chat with Tom Brown, founder of The Information Lab, about his career story and, acting on his advice, I asked every new contact I made to introduce me to two people in their network. The idea behind this was to ask people how they got to where they are now, and if I can possibly learn from their experience in the hope to make a more informed decision when I am ready to take the next step in my career.
After I heard Eva had moved to London, I decided to get in touch with her. I went into our first meeting with no expectations. All I wanted to do was have a chat with her over coffee and hear her story, just as I had heard other people’s stories. At the end of our chat, I asked her, just as I did with everyone else that I had networked with, if she had any questions for me. She told me that she was considering helping people in the early stages of their career and offering them some sort of support and guidance – a mentorship. Eva had offered herself as a mentor to me, and I happily accepted.
In Eva’s words, ‘I wanted to give people the guidance that I wish I had when I started out in my career. So when Seffana got in touch, I was only too happy to help.’
The mentorship has now culminated in Seffana coming out to TC19 with us and giving her the opportunity to take her newly found networking skills to the next level.
Meeting the Tableau community
I have been part of The Data School for less than a year, attending the Tableau Conference in Vegas with Exasol is definitely one of the highlights of my Data School experience – I did not expect that at all! It is a great opportunity to meet so many like-minded people from within the Tableau community and beyond – I’ve been lucky enough to meet people like Ned Harding (former CTO of Alteryx) as well. When it comes to my own career plans, it has been invaluable, working out what the next step will be after my two and a half years at The Data School. This would likely never have happened if Carl and Tom had not told me to get out there and meet new people.
The last year has been a huge eye opener for me. I have spoken to so many people senior in their organizations, with great careers and you know what…they’ve been great! I have learnt that it is ok to ask people for some of their time. As Craig Bloodworth, CTO at The Information Lab, had told me, the worst that can happen is that they say no. On the other hand, you can learn so much and push your career in directions you had never even thought of. TC19 is the peak of this for me, and people like Eva have made such an important contribution as I work out what course my career will take.
Ultimately, data without people is nothing, so sharing a bit of time and experience with the next generation of the workforce can make a huge difference. This advice is clearly making a big impact on Seffana so we’d like to wish her the best of luck for an exciting career ahead.
If you’re interested in seeing the exciting opportunities we have available at Exasol, check out our careers page here.