My Pivot Journal is a Ventures Africa weekly series documenting people’s career transitions from one industry to another, especially to tech.
Tina Okonkwo’s journey stands as a testament to the power of consistency and adaptability. She has navigated various career transitions, and despite encountering challenges including the lack of fulfilment in some roles and a pandemic impact, Tina remained committed. This journey led her to her current position as a data analyst. Here is Tina Okonkwo‘s pivot journal.
How it started
I have a degree in Mathematics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, but it was not the field of study I truly desired. I wanted to study computer science. Despite my efforts, I was unable to secure admission to the course. Because I couldn’t risk staying at home another year, I reluctantly accepted to study Mathematics. Throughout my four years in school, I carried a sense of dissatisfaction.
Post graduation, one of the things I found myself doing was to search for a suitable career path for a mathematics graduate. However, at that time, I lacked a strong inclination towards those fields and lacked the motivation to conduct in-depth research on acquiring the necessary skills.
Fortunately, the mandatory youth service program, NYSC, presented an opportunity for me, and I secured a job as a customer service representative. The customer service role aligned well with my natural problem-solving abilities, and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of communicating with people and assisting them in resolving issues. Unfortunately, the pandemic disrupted the job.
However, once the pandemic subsided, I found another job as a Business Development Officer at an oil and gas firm. The role proved to be quite challenging and demanding. It involved entering a completely new domain. The workload became overwhelming, and it became apparent that the job was not a good fit for me as I felt a lack of personal, professional growth and fulfilment. I left the position, finding myself back at square one.
During this period, there was a growing buzz around the field of technology, and many individuals advised me to venture into it. So I started researching different tech roles. During the search, I realized that I do not have an interest in building or designing websites. However, I came across the field of data science during my exploration, and it immediately piqued my interest. Given my background in mathematics, it seemed like a natural fit and a promising path to pursue.
I have a very interesting journey. The first thing I did was outline a roadmap of what I wanted to learn. However, a significant challenge arose in the initial stages – the lack of a laptop. So I resorted to learning on my phone instead. Despite this limitation, I embarked on the IBM Data analyst course on Coursera. Unfortunately, I encountered difficulties in progressing through the course since certain chapters required downloading specific applications, which proved to be unfeasible without a laptop.
Luckily for me, Ingressive For Good was organising a data camp scholarship program at this period, and I was one of the beneficiaries. This allowed me to start learning on the Data Camp platform, learning on my own terms and at my own pace became much more accessible through data camp. I chose to begin with Python, which some may consider an unconventional starting point. However, I dedicated myself to consistently learning Python for a period of four months. Each person has their own unique learning pace and abilities. Some individuals may find Python more difficult compared to working with tools like Excel, which is why some suggest starting with Excel and gradually progressing to Python.
Even as I delved into Python, I actively sought out projects, sought feedback, and constantly strived to improve my skills. During this time, I was fortunate enough to acquire a laptop, which further facilitated my learning journey. Additionally, I secured a role as a data analyst. As I settled into my new position, I then expanded my knowledge by learning Power BI, Excel, and SQL, further enhancing my skills in data analysis.
Some courses and platforms I used during the learning process were the Data Analyst track with Python, SQL fundamentals and Data Communication Concept on Data Camp as well. YouTube also served as a valuable learning platform for mastering Excel.
But the learning process was not without challenges. I encountered unique challenges due to my location in Nigeria. Asides from the initial limitation of not having a laptop, the unreliable electricity supply made it difficult to have control over when I could dedicate time to learning.
How it is going
I presently work with FanBants, a company that organises virtual competitions for fans. My role revolves around analyzing data from various sources to facilitate fan scoring. I collaborate closely with the product and engineering teams to introduce new products and features that enhance user engagement. I contribute to identifying innovative strategies for optimizing conversion rates and user retention.
Looking ahead, I am interested in the rising prominence of artificial intelligence (AI) and would like to transition into it. However, for now, I am still dedicated to exploring and expanding my expertise in the field of data analytics.
My major career hack is consistency. It has been my watchword ever since I embarked on my learning journey. I show up every day talking about data. Also amidst the noise and information overload within the ecosystem, my focus has always been on data. Therefore, my advice to anyone seeking to make a transition is to establish a clear roadmap, disregard distractions and maintain unwavering consistency.