#DataYou: Bageshri Hasabnis
Despite having a bachelor’s degree in computer science, Bageshri Hasabnis thought that a lengthy career break might prevent her from embarking on a new career in data science. As part of the #DataYou series, DDI Skills Gateway spoke to Bageshri about how a Professional Development Award in Data Science empowered her to rethink pursuing a career in data science.
Having completed her degree in computer science, Bageshri Hasabnis initially worked in India as a computer trainer and then a software tester. But after re-locating to the UK and having a child, Bageshri took a 15-year break from her career in IT. Later, after her son went to school, she worked as a librarian.
But as Bageshri explains, she missed elements of her old career, especially programming:
“Now my child has grown up and I have more time, I had already started thinking about switching my career because I was missing the skills that I had learnt in university.
“My son is in secondary school and he’s learning Python [a programming language] and that made me realise how much I missed programming. Because I do find programming to be fun” she said.
Bageshri’s experience is reflective of the situation for many women in the UK. There are currently 427,000 professional women on a career break who want to return to work in the future. But three out of five women returning to the workforce are likely to move into lower-skilled or lower-paid job roles.
With more time on her hands as a result of the pandemic and her son being in full-time education, Bageshri decided to re-acquaint herself with programming and improve her data skills.
To do so, she turned to the Data Skills for Work programme – a strand of the DDI Skills Gateway that focuses specifically on helping adults to upskill or reskill with data – and the Data Skills Credits initiative, which grants learners £500 towards data centric courses.
The initiative is targeted at a number of under-represented groups, including women returning to or advancing within work.
Funded through the Data Skills Credits, Bageshri embarked on a Professional Development Award (PDA) in Data Science, which she competed through the training-provider Code Division. She was part of the first cohort of Scottish students to gain such an award, which is designed to equip students with the data skills needed to progress their careers.
As part of the PDA, she did courses in Python and Excel. Overall the courses lasted 16 week and they were designed so that learners who didn’t have any previous programming knowledge or data skills could also take part.
Alongside learning how to use Python and Excel, Bageshri learnt how extract, clean and prepare data for analysis. She was also shown how to use visualisation tools to create data dashboards and data stories.
Speaking about the benefits of doing the courses, Bageshri emphasises the confidence she now has:
“Now I understand that you don’t need to have high-level programming knowledge to work in data science.
“Even with advanced Excel knowledge, a little bit of programming language and experience using tools like Microsoft Power BI – you can work in data science. That confidence is what I got from this course” she says.
Bageshri adds that having taken such a long career break, the course improved her awareness about the latest technology and data-driven advances in the data and IT sectors.
“I had been out of the data science field for 15 years, so of course my knowledge was outdated. But doing this course makes you feel more confident and that is the most important thing because it re-ignites your interest, and you start to get that buzz back” she explains.
She has started reading more about the data science sector online, signing up to newsletters and panel talks online.
Additionally she has joined Kaggle, an online community for data scientists which offers data science competitions and challenges, to further widen her data science knowledge.
Buoyed by her new-found confidence and improved data skills, Bageshri has started looking for jobs in the data science industry.
“I previously never thought that data science could be a career option for me.
“But now I think – yes I can do this!” she concludes.
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