This interview is the second part of a 5 part series featuring a Hackwagon alumni and his career journey.
A former delivery man who worked at one of Asia’s start-up concierge and online delivery services company scored a new career goal with his new-found ICT skill. Mr Gabriel See Wei Yang, who is in his 30s and a graduate in Law and IT from a foreign university, is one of several working adults and PMETs (Professional, Managers, Executives and Technicians) who have chosen to pursue skills related courses at private educational institutions such as Hackwagon Academy (“Hackwagon”) to switch their career paths for brighter prospects. After completing a 7-week Data Science Course, Mr See managed to get a new job as an Assistant IT Manager at one of the largest independent, private medical laboratories in Singapore. Armed with his latest Python coding skills, he hopes to fulfil his aim of becoming an ICT professional and contribute more to the development of value-added innovations for the diagnostic healthcare industry.
Gabriel: Hello, I am Gabriel Shi Wei Yang.
Yixin: Wei Yang, has worked in Hongkong for a period of time, and he moved back to Singapore 2 to 3 years back to settle down here. He is currently an assistant manager in Quest Laboratory.
Yixin: So you have actually worked in IT-related fields throughout your career right?
Gabriel: Yes yes.
Yixin: Isn’t a very good time to be working in the IT Industry now, with all the ongoing hype and attention?
Gabriel: Laughs* All I can tell you is, behind the glitz and glamour of every job, are intricacies and complexities which are unknown to the layman.
Yixin: Laughs* I guess every industry and sector has its own set of idiosyncratic challenges.
Gabriel: Yes yes.
Yixin: So what were the challenges and pain points which you experienced in the IT sector?
Gabriel: The hours are long. And there are times when even after you spent a lot of time working on a deliverable, it ends up being irrelevant or not used. Well, in this sector, there are a lot of use cases waiting to be uncovered, and you can only know more after you have tried tinkering.
Yixin: So in sum, you spent a lot of time solving whatever potential use cases or problems that comes your way?
Yixin: So you studied IT during your undergraduate, and then later went on to take on multiple IT-related jobs after you graduate. But you had much difficulty in getting a job after you relocated back to Singapore.
Gabriel: Yes, but to be precise, I did work in Singapore for a short while, but subsequently moved over to Hongkong after I met my wife in Singapore. The good thing about working in Hongkong is that, the company gave me a lot of latitude to learn and experiment. It was from there that my interest in IT became more pronounced. But the journey was arduous, there was much to learn
Gabriel: So anyway after I came back to Singapore, and had issues finding a job, I became depressed. But I couldn’t give up. Afterall, I spent ten over years building up my skills in the IT field. I felt it would be a pity for me to give up on IT.
Yixin: So thereafter, you enrolled yourself in a course in Python. Obviously this wasn’t something that was foreign to you right?
Yixin: So python is a programming language which is currently very popular right?
Gabriel: Actually, I wouldn’t say it is very popular because python is still a relatively newcomer, although it has been around for quite some time. So while the number of people using are sizable, I would say it still has more room for growth in terms of popularity.
Yixin: Laughs* So why did you decide to take a course in python then?
Gabriel: Because, currently the business world is very hyped up about data science.
Yixin: So data science, meaning the study of data and number to derive at insights right?
Gabriel: Yes, basically it is the study of large amount of data, and trying to translate all this raw data into useful insights for businesses. Actually in the market, commonly used languages for data science includes languages, such as java, python, SQL, Crystal Report. But let me give you an example of why python offers an advantage over the rest of them. In my company, we deal with a huge amount of data, and if I were to use any of these other technologies other than python to churn and process them, it is virtually impossible given the huge resources required by these other technologies.
Gabriel: Python’s infrastructure design is more short-memory, so it is more lightweight, and makes for easy creation of visualisation to interpret results. Moreover, python’s usage is not just limited to data science. You can build other stuff such as web applications with python. I also extended my knowledge and application of python after doing a bunch of self-studying and experiment.
Yixin: So what made you have the thought of wanting to take up a course in python then?
Gabriel: Actually, I didn’t specifically wanted to take a course in python. I just wanted to upgrade myself. But it just so happened that the first course that I came across in my quest to upgrade myself was a python programming course.
Yixin: A lot of times, it is pretty interesting how your life can suddenly take a turn for the better if you are able to grab hold of unexpected opportunities.
Gabriel: I can only say that it was a coincidence.
Yixin: So accordingly to you, although python is not a new programming language, the reason why it has became so appealing in recent years is because it possesses an intrinsic advantage when it comes to processing large datasets?
Gabriel: Yes, it is exceptional in this regard.
Yixin: So after you have gained mastery of python, what kind of changes did it bring to your career and job?
Gabriel: Actually, there has been a lot of positive changes.
Yixin: Ohh that sounds interesting? Let’s hear more about this tomorrow!
Yixin: Actually, we all need to continuously upgrade ourselves. Take for example Gabriel, he went through a period where he was struggling to find a proper full-time job, and had to turn to a variety of odd jobs to stay afloat. After he went on to upgrade himself, and gain a new skill. Today, he has managed to find a full-time job.
Yixin: I believe there are plenty of people who are in a similar predicament as Gabriel back then. So the government, has this program call TESA, which is Tech Skills Accelerator, which seeks to help white-collared workers acquire IT-related skills to stay relevant in today’s digital economy. So if you interested, you can find out more about this program call TESA on the internet, which is a program by Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA).
Yixin: We have received quite a lot of enquiries on whatsapp about the course which Gabriel took. But one of the listeners apparently called the school and was told that the slots for this course is fully booked. So it is possible that the waiting list might be until the start of next year. So everyone can take note, and try to go for the course if you are free during this time.
Gabriel was able to move into the growing tech industry after working part time for various stints through making use of government subsidies for programmes under the TeSA initiative.
For more details on the course Gabriel took, you can visit Data Science 101
For part 3 of the interview, you can visit Part 3