As a young professional in the banking industry, Jennifer Tsou worked as a Relationship Banker—providing personal financial counseling, assisting with lending services, and building relationships with customers. Her university education—focused on finance and economics—provided her with the tools she needed to be successful in her role. Her career in banking afforded her stability, and the opportunity to further develop her customer relations skills. Still, she often found herself questioning her path. She occasionally indulged herself by imagining doing something different with her life and career, only to remind herself she should be happy to have a job.
Something was definitely missing.
This feeling intensified, and the divide between what she was doing, and what she wanted to do, grew wider. She realized what really intrigued her about finance wasn’t the front-end relationship management, it was the data behind it all. Unfortunately, her desire to explore this interest far outpaced her self-confidence—she just wasn’t sure she could make the necessary changes that would allow her to pursue this newly-realized passion.
She researched a few data bootcamps, but was discouraged by the cost, and the prospect of having to quit her current job to study full-time. She weighed her options almost obsessively, and kept researching. That’s when she discovered Udacity. Still unsure of her ability to pursue an entirely new career, she began with free courses. She completed one, then another. Already she could feel her confidence growing. Suddenly, she believed she could do this. Her lack of a technical background wasn’t going to limit her. She could learn new skills!
Jennifer took the plunge and enrolled in the Data Analyst Nanodegree program. She found the initial coursework quite difficult, but she focused on continuing to try. She kept working full-time in her banking role, and slowly but surely worked through the first projects. Submitting her work and receiving positive feedback fed her desire to learn. She was discovering the possibilities of big data, and was inspired by what she could do with the new skills she was acquiring.
Within six months, Jennifer graduated from the Data Analyst Nanodegree program. She was confident in her new abilities, and excited about putting her skills to use. With the support of the Udacity Career Services team she fine-tuned her LinkedIn profile, updated her resume to reflect her data experience, and worked on her interview skills. Within three weeks of beginning to apply for data roles, she was offered a position as a Data Analyst!
“Honestly, at first I couldn’t believe it…when they called and said ‘Congratulations, we would like to offer you a position as a Data Analyst,” I couldn’t concentrate … my mind was on cloud nine, I was just so happy.”
Jennifer had surpassed her own expectations of what she could accomplish. No more would she have to talk herself into being happy with her career:
“Udacity made me realize how important it is to actually like your job, and to wake up excited to go to work.”
We often hear of lifelong learning being a necessity; something we have to embrace because of the changing nature of work and the economy. What Jennifer’s story shows us, is that lifelong learning is just as much about being happy and fulfilled, as it is about meeting career demands. Jennifer embarked on a worrisome and risky new path—not because circumstances forced her to, but because her heart told her she had to. It was with this level of emotional intensity that she faced down her challenges:
“I put my soul into that program.”
You have a lifetime to make changes, to learn something new, to take risks. The window of opportunity to believe in yourself never closes. The next time you find yourself wondering what could be, draw some strength from Jennifer’s story, and follow your heart.
Congratulations Jennifer. We’re thrilled you are pursuing a new and exciting career!