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Sometimes unleashing your hidden potential means shedding some of your old perspectives and habits. For Practicum grad Xia Cui, that new perspective had been lurking in plain sight. With a background in social science, Xia was convinced that a career in data analytics seemed far-fetched. However, it turned out she just needed to refocus. As a result, Xia certainly struck gold, discovering her interest in data analytics and beginning an entirely new career in the IT consulting industry. Sounds like a rewarding tradeoff.

Here's how she managed to get there with the help of Practicum, which was created to support individuals who want to jump out of their old careers and into the world of tech.

Can a humanities researcher become a data analyst?

Xia Cui worked as a humanities and social sciences researcher at an Australian university. Her position involved working with data, and though she enjoyed that aspect, she didn't think data analytics was specific to her role. That is, until a little research showed her otherwise.

"I thought [data analytics] had nothing to do with me. Turns out, I was doing it in other forms without even realizing it," she recalls. With her interest piqued but hesitation mounting, a friend convinced Xia to give it a shot.  "He said, 'You have good logic and you're very good at mathematics. Why do you say it's not for you?'  His encouragement helped me see that I could do it. So, that's how I started over a year ago."

Having a researcher's mindset, Xia dove into a plethora of online resources. "Just anything that I could get my hands on," she recalls. The more she learned, the more she liked it, and the more she wanted to do it long-term. Soon, however, Xia felt she needed a more systematic approach to measure her true progress. "I knew this, I learned that, but I needed to know where I was in terms of a particular skill. So, that's why I decided to do a bootcamp."

Choosing the right one wasn't easy, though. She needed something both budget-friendly and flexible, as she still needed to work. Practicum was an instant match. Curriculum and program structure aside, Practicum's money-back guarantee gave Xia some solace. "If you feel this [program] is not for you, you can still choose to stop. Lots of other courses try to lock you in as early as possible, so this is a relief."

Resetting priorities

Pushing through Practicum's Data Analysis course, though, took Xia a lot more than just passion alone. The course consisted of several two- or three-week-long sprints, each of which included reading, coding practice, and assignments. She could read and practice coding at her own pace but had to submit assignments on time to get access to the next sprint. Every assignment was related to a business area she had never worked with before, but Xia enjoyed learning about new industries. "I really liked being presented with information from different fields. I think that's really refreshing."

Theory and assignments took a lot of commitment as well. She cut down on Netflix and entertainment and did plenty of rescheduling — sometimes even staying indoors to study in between lockdowns. "We could go out [between the lockdowns]. I turned down a lot because I needed to study on the weekends and finish my project. Even just going out for lunch or dinner interrupted my thoughts. Self-discipline was really important."  

Did the difficulties discourage her? No. For Xia, the opposite occurred. "I didn't feel it was easy. I did struggle, and there are certain modules I had to go through again and again. But it was certainly rewarding." Besides, getting through these challenges helped her build her confidence; she felt that it was only a matter of time before she could start creating her own solutions.

Off to a new profession

Xia became so engrossed in data analytics that she started applying to jobs while still studying with Practicum. Work opportunities at her university were limited, so she looked elsewhere to put her newfound knowledge to use. "Those were clearly hopeless applications," she laughs. After graduation, though, her chances radically improved, and she received feedback on two applications she'd sent. "They were very different," she recalls, with the first one being a complete disaster. "I got the interview, but at that time, I hadn't done the Career Acceleration track yet. I'd never had a technical interview before, so I did awful. I couldn't even remember the basic things and I felt really sad the week afterward."

Xia's next interview took place after she had already completed Practicum's Career Acceleration track. During this, Practicum's career tutors review students’ CVs and portfolios and help them establish GitHub and LinkedIn profiles. Students also get access to mock interviews, tips, video materials, and Q&A sessions with domain specialists. The result? She got the job! "That’s why I highly recommend that part of the study too! Having a strong resume is one thing, but being able to perform during an interview is another."

In September, Xia joined Capgemini, a multinational IT services and consulting company,  as a data analyst. She'll be assigned to different projects, analyzing data from the industries of her future clients.

Interested in data analytics like Xia? Check out our top-rated programs today.

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