958 FM Radio Interview with HWA Alumni Gabriel See [Part 3]


Editor’s Note

This interview is the third 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.

DAY 3:
Yixin: This week, we have Gabriel, someone who has more than ten years of experience in the IT sector with us on the set.

Gabriel: Hi everyone!

Yixin: Gabriel is currently working in Quest Laboratory as an assistant manager. How long have you been on this job?

Gabriel: A few months thereabouts.

Yixin: How did you find the job?

Gabriel: Laughs* I find the job through online means

Yixin: Laughs* I guess it makes perfect sense for someone with IT background to find a job through the internet

Yixin: So last year, you also took up a course to upgrade yourself right? To learn more about this programming language call python.

Gabriel: Yes.

Yixin: To you python is probably not a new programming language right?

Gabriel: Yes.

Yixin: So how did you think it helpful in your successful career transition?

Gabriel: To be honest, it didn’t help very much when I was looking for a job. This is because I already had the requisite experience. This was enough to grant me a foot through the door. But the python programming course helped immensely in my job itself.

Gabriel: In a span of the few months I have been with the company, I have already made used of python to build a few applications to automate the printing of patients data, which saves up to 30 minutes to 1 hour of time each time we have to do this processing. This may not seem like a lot of time, but when you support the healthcare industry where the time saved can translate to an actual life saved, then this 30 minutes of time saving is absolutely significant.

Yixin: Yes, when it comes to life and death, every second really counts. So by cutting down the time taken to analyze blood lab results, by 30 minutes to 1 hour, that really is important!

Gabriel: Yes.

Yixin: So for programming languages like python, we know that it is particularly good at processing data. But is it difficult to master python?

Gabriel: Laughs* Actually it is not very difficult, but then again it may also be due to the fact that I have an IT background…

Yixin: Laughs* Yes I immediately thought of the fact that you had an IT background

Gabriel: Actually, regardless of the programming language you learn, what you really take away is not the syntax of the language, but rather the thinking process, the algorithmic thinking that goes behind it. If you are able to extract and apply this way of thinking laterally across anything you do, then you would benefit immensely from this experience. However, if you just learn and blindly apply, then you might have a hard time.

Yixin: So basically your attitude towards the learning is very important? The way you learn as well as interpret the lessons learn?

Gabriel: Yes.

Yixin: So you basically don’t treat python as merely a tool and just learn about its function. Beyond that, you have to understand the context and extent to which it can be applied.

Gabriel: Yes. Actually, you should think of python as a language. Just like any language, it takes a deep understanding of the language to be able to apply it freely and skillfully.

Yixin: Actually, alot of people have told me that it is possible to pick up programming languages on your own.

Gabriel: Laughs* Yes of course it is perfectly possible for one to self-learn this. But who do you ask when you come across problems?

Yixin: So that was why you took on a course in python?

Gabriel: Yes, I mean I knew abit of the essence of python, but I wanted to fast forward my learning.

Yixin: So self-learning is possible, but if you have a teacher to ask questions then your learning process would be smoother.

Gabriel: Yes yes of course.

Yixin: So how long is the course?

Gabriel: 7 weeks.

Yixin: So did you have classmates?

Gabriel: Yes yes.

Yixin: Did the other students have IT background?

Gabriel: I don’t really know. I don’t really talk. I went to the course with the mindset of simply wanting to learn and not to make friends nor to socialise. The most important thing is what were the benefits to me in my job at the end of the day.

Yixin: So what do you think was your greatest takeaway from the mastery of python?

Gabriel: That would be being able to apply what I have learnt to help other people, so basically being able to make use of the functions in python to help other people.

Yixin: That’s amazing. So tomorrow, we will talk about some of the challenges that one might face if one were to self-learn python.

Yixin: So just now, we had a few whatsapps from the listeners asking what exactly is this programming language python that Gabriel picked up in the course. This is actually a higher level programming language. If you go onto the internet, you can actually find out more about this programming language. But just like what Gabriel said in the interview, if you want to master python, you might have to take classes. Because that’s the only way where you have people to help ascertain whether your direction is correct and help you troubleshoot when you run into issues.

Yixin: Gabriel, took this course under the support of the TESA program which was launched by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA). This course is python programming was conducted by Hackwagon Academy. So Gabriel took the 7 weeks course at Hackwagon Academy, and picked up python programming as well the the algorithmic thinking that goes behind it. This TESA program is launched by the Singapore government to help Singaporeans acquire technical skills which are relevant to the digital economy, and also to help in their career switch.

Editor’s Footnote

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 4 of the interview, you can visit Part 4