When I was at school, I loved maths but didn’t know how to take that passion any further. I didn’t know anyone who had gone to university, so it wasn’t even on my radar when a careers advisor suggested it. After a bit of coaxing, I found myself applying and it was the best decision I’ve ever made!
Three years of studying felt like quite a big commitment, but I finished my course and threw up my mortarboard. It actually wasn’t long before I was back at it! I loved studying so much that I went back to do a PhD – something I never thought I’d do (and something you don’t need to do to join MI6!).
Uni taught me so much more than I thought. I learnt how to work independently and the value of trying new things – even if they don’t always work out. I really enjoyed working through the unknown. But at the end of my course, I still didn’t know what I wanted to ‘be’. I had a few different jobs in programming, data analysis and data processing. But it didn’t feel quite right. Luckily for me, I finally found MI6 and a job I love.
As a Data Scientist, I take proof-of-concept Artificial Intelligence (AI) approaches and integrate these into other areas of the organisation. Proof-of-concept AI explores the capabilities of Artificial Intelligence, helps us to understand the benefits of AI and whether it will provide the solution to the problem we are trying to solve. It’s the perfect balance of maths and programming, plus researching new areas and working with a variety of people.
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On any given day, I might learn about a new machine-learning algorithm or try a new piece of code. Or I might just have a chat with a colleague I’ve never met before. I also write a few reports and blogs and even give some presentations. Everyone loves to share their knowledge and help each other – it’s a close community.
So, what have I learnt? That it’s great if you know what career you want, but it’s also ok if you don’t. I think the most important thing is to do something you really enjoy. And embrace the journey of finding out! In the words of Chris Hadfield, the Canadian Astronaut; “Decide in your heart of hearts what really excites and challenges you and start moving your life in that direction”.