Carol Wong | Jr Data Engineering

From Publishing to Programming, Mid-Career Switcher Carol Wong Begins A New Chapter In Tech

After more than 20 years in the publishing industry, Carol Wong decided to shelf her retail marketing and operations managerial role for a fresh tech adventure with Generation Singapore. As an accomplished career woman in her late forties and a mother to one teenager, she had spent her days working her way around the various job functions of finance, circulation, and retail.

Between acknowledging that she enjoyed the data parts of her various roles the most, and spending a majority of her free time keeping up to date with the latest tech trends, the switch towards combining her interests and keen eye for data felt like a natural progress for Carol.

How Carol Decided to Switch Careers

““Technology is evolving so fast and it is actually changing the way we live and work. I thought I better quickly catch up, to not be left behind and see how I can make the most of it for my career.”

Yet, Carol did not switch careers on a whim. It was a calculated move that involved mentors and WSG career advisors, as well as previous exposure to data analytics through various learning platforms.

She first chanced upon Generation bootcamp on Facebook whilst Googling educational platforms. And while most websites made grand promises of huge paychecks upon completion of the course, what sold her on Generation Singapore was its structured way of learning where everything was neatly packaged to provide learners with the skills required to get into tech.

Bootcamp Experience: It’s All About The Support

“It was definitely not easy even with some previously gleaned programming knowledge. I found myself lagging compared to some of my classmates who were more well-versed in tech. It was a period of self doubt because there was just so much to learn!

However, after confiding in my classmates I was relieved to know that it was okay to take my time. I decided to put in more effort to overcome the hurdles I was facing. I’m very happy that I managed to persevere and not give up halfway!

What I enjoyed most was the camaraderie of the classmates. We helped each other by providing support, be it technical or emotional. We also had very good instructors who were learner-centric and went beyond what was required by the course to ensure we understood what we were being taught.

Our mentor also shared many valuable tips with us, especially because he was involved in hiring and interviewing candidates for technical roles in his company. This included important things that we need to showcase in our resume as well as what to expect in an interview.”

From Bootcamp To Her First Tech Role

““Before the bootcamp, I had been applying for entry roles. Despite applying for 10 to 20 roles, I had no reply. Yet, on our graduation day, Generation Singapore arranged a networking session for us and that was how I managed to find my current role as a Data Advocate at JJ Innovation!

I am so grateful for this networking platform that allows graduates to link up directly with the employers who know our situation and what we can offer. Because, other than techn skills, we actually have years of working experience and transferrable skills that employers may find valuable.

Everything moved quickly after the networking day — there was a second and third interview, and I got the job the month after I graduated. I started as an intern but I did not mind that because it allowed me to test out the market and to see if the company was suitable for me. The good news is, I have been offered a permanent role just three months into my internship instead of the six months internship that was originally planned.

The boot camp helped in paving my pathway into the tech industry by packaging all the necessary skill sets that were required in a junior data engineer’s role. It is a very well put together program that I would recommend to any other person looking to make a career-switch into the tech industry.”

Facing Ageism In The Workplace

“I do not have a degree and I am not young. Ageism is a very real issue that we mid-career switchers face. I was very lucky to have met Gary Wong, co-founder of tech consulting firm JJ Innovation, who is very supportive of career switchers and who understands that, although we are not young, we are more focused on what we want to achieve.

Gary has even actually gotten scholarships from Google certification to enable us to be able to continue learning for free. So I’m really appreciative of him and the supportive work environment he has cultivated.

“I hope that employers will look beyond paper qualifications and give the candidates with a wealth of experience a chance to prove themselves capable.”

To Fellow Mid-Career Switchers

“It is very important to really consider what your interests are and whether you are ready to begin a journey that never-ends. In tech, there’s so much to learn and you may be faced with a steep learning curve. However, I believe that if we persevere and put in the hard work, it can be done. You just need to keep an open mind and stay adaptable.

I recommend Generation Singapore because even after the completion of the bootcamp, you’re guaranteed continual support on your journey.”