With a background in law, coding, and data science, Pauline Chow is truly a triple threat. She graduated from our part-time Data Science course back in the spring of 2014 and has gone on to land impressive roles at startups like Clique Media. After the course, Pauline went on to share her passion for data science/analytics as an instructor at GA. She’s also pursuing her masters in Computer Science at the Georgia Institute of Technology!
1. You have an interesting background. You’ve dabbled in politics, web development, and law. Can you tell me more about your professional experience?
My career indeed takes a winding path but has always been in pursuit of similar goals: (1) Creating better systems/institutions, (2) Finding the highest and best use of my skills, and (3) Benefiting a community.
In high school and college, my love for programming, math, and social justice put me on the path towards public policy. Early in my career I honed my technical and business skills in consulting and banking but considered these jobs “too far away” from my central career goals. Law school seemed like a way to learn more about systems and institutions.
The degree and work experience are great training for handling stressful work environments, working with clients, and asking the right questions at the right time. Skills I learned from lawyering and law school focused my decision-making skills and ability to tie multidisciplinary ideas together effectively. I wrote more on Why Lawyers Make Good Data Scientists on my blog. Overall, I did really cool things with my law degree, such as litigated cases as a legal aid and advocated for better transportation policies so children could walk and bike to school. But alas, I was missing the techie stuff and saw more opportunities for people with my subject matter expertise in government and technology background. At this time, I re-read the Alchemist, signed up for the General Assembly Data Science class, and expanded my professional network.
2. Some people love data while others loathe it. What draws you to data analytics?
I love to discover patterns and connections! In math and data science there are multiple ways to look at problems, which means there are always “solutions.” In this field, there is room for creativity and thinking outside of the box, especially with the multitude of theories, tools, and enthusiasm. It’s also a fun collaborative team environment.
3. Congrats on your new job! Tell me about Clique Media.
Clique Media is beauty and fashion media publisher and e-commerce company. I am Clique Media’s data scientist. I am building the company’s analytics stack from the backend database, pipeline, and front-end business user dashboards. In true startup fashion, I manage the new analytics team, reporting process, develop business intelligence pipelines with python, and run models on our data. The most important part of the role is creating a data-driven culture where we make data-informed decisions. It’s exciting to be part of a growing company that is continually trying to innovate its products, company, and approach to connect, design, UX, and e-commerce.
5. What’s the biggest obstacle you’ve had to face thus far in your career?
My previous obstacle was articulating the vision for my career, but with my experiences and training, I am able to see more clearly my highest and best use. My new obstacle is time management so I can effectively prioritize time to pursue my personal projects.
6. What has been your biggest career success?
I consider every time I help someone (whether they be a client, colleague, or friend), or make connections for people (either ideas or opportunities) as great successes. I try to live in the present moment and not compare one success over another. I’ll always be searching for new ways to contribute to social good.
7. What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself through your career journey?
I am pleasantly surprised how far just a good attitude, critical thinking, and patience will take me in any professional and personal situation.
8. You’ve transitioned from Data Science student to instructor. What inspired you to teach the course?
I think of the instructor role with General Assembly as a natural progression within my career and complementary addition to data scientist. At this point, I have mastered important skills that I can now pass on to the larger community. I have a unique perspective on career transitions and navigating career changes, which many part-time and workshop students can learn from.
9. Any advice for aspiring Data Scientists?
General career advice is to focus on building skills, anywhere that will pay you to do so for both technical and “soft skills,” such as professionalism, relationship building, and project management. Since data analytics is becoming more team-oriented, the “soft skills” are also becoming more important. People want to hire people that work well with others, not necessarily the smartest person or someone with the best resume. Not every job will be your dream job, but as long as you’re developing skills and relationships, it’s worth your efforts. I bring extra value to the team through my subject matter expertise in law, policy, and government. If you feel like you’re “missing” something at any point, fill the gap with hobbies, reading (a real book!), taking classes (traditional or online), or volunteering.
10. Last, but not least, our favorite question. What’s your guilty pleasure?
EDM + DnB, Silliness, and Heights. 2 out of the 3 pictured in this article.
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