Coding a career change

Source: TODAY Online

Athalia Ho sheds her past for a future in the tech industry

TODAY_Learning Minds_Athalia Ho

With a story arc that included a fresh start and happy outcome, Ms Athalia Ho's career journey would not be out of place in any of the independent films she used to work on.

The 29-year-old, whose previous jobs included a stint as film producer and roles in marketing, shed her past for a future in the booming tech industry in May when she graduated from the Institute of Systems Science at National University of Singapore (NUS-ISS) with a Graduate Diploma in Systems Analysis (GDipSA).

Tech for non-techies
"The GDipSA is unique. It can transform a person without IT knowledge into an IT professional in a short time," said the NUS-ISS GDipSA programme chief, Dr Esther Tan, referring to students such as Ms Ho.

The 12-month full-time course prepares tech newcomers for careers in the IT sector by equipping them with technical and interpersonal expertise. It is also ideal for those already in the field, but are looking to be retrained in the latest IT skills to replace obsolete ones, added Dr Tan.

NUS-ISS tapped on the expertise of experienced IT practitioners to develop the GDipSA's practice-based curriculum, which is also regularly updated to keep pace with rapid tech developments. Students get a solid grounding in computing with seven months of intensive training that includes lectures, workshops and hands-on projects.

In addition, a five-month internship helps them gain real-life experience as IT professionals.

Dr Tan said: "NUS-ISS works closely with industries and companies that are seeking tech solutions [to operational issues]. With the help of student interns from the institute, these organisations can prototype and implement tools that meet their needs using advanced technologies."

Forging a new path
For Ms Ho, who already has a fine arts degree, it was the strengths of the GDipSA and a desire to improve herself through higher learning that made her return to NUS-ISS for a career switch. She is now a media analyst working on big data at media-monitoring company Meltwater.

"NUS-ISS is very reputable and the GDipSA stood out from the competing courses I was considering," she said.

She added: "The programme was rigorous and let me master a wide variety of digital skills. The lecturers, all experts in their fields, also made learning challenging, yet enjoyable."

And though she is just three months into her new job, the lifelong learning enthusiast is already planning to get more tech training under her belt.

She said: "I hope to grow into my role and look forward to the opportunity to delve further into big data. Eventually, I would like to embark on the Master of Technology programme at NUS-ISS."