Why Stephanie left her career in statistical programming to become a CodeClan instructor

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With a background in statistical programming and university teaching, Steph has been an instructor at CodeClan since our first Data Analysis cohort in 2019 – and even helped write the course!
We spoke to Steph about her life before CodeClan, her motivations for joining our instructor team and what’s changed since then.

What did you do before you joined the CodeClan team? 

Before CodeClan I was working as a statistical programmer for a pharmaceutical company in their Data Science department, as well as doing some freelance data work on the side. Before that, I worked at the University of Glasgow for four years, where I taught R programming and data analysis while doing my PhD. And before that, I did almost a decade’s worth of random bar and retail jobs while I completed a couple of years of art school, went backpacking around the world, studied, and generally thought about what I might want to do with my life.

Why did you want to become an instructor?

I taught a lot during my PhD, and during that time discovered a passion for teaching that I never knew existed. And to be perfectly honest, I ended up caring about the teaching more than my research. So when I left academia to go to industry, I was happy with my work, but knew I’d eventually go back into some kind of teaching role in the long run. When I saw CodeClan was starting the course, it sounded like it would be a perfect fit so I just applied and decided to see what happened.

What’s been your CodeClan highlight so far?

My CodeClan highlight so far has definitely been watching how the students have handled our sudden switch to a virtual learning environment.

After the first announcements of the lockdown, life completely shifted and we found ourselves in a new and difficult (but very necessary) situation pretty suddenly. But the students really took on the massive, unexpected challenge in their learning journey with an attitude that was inspirational – they got on board with our plan for 9-5 virtual teaching, they were endlessly patient during the first few days while we figured out tech issues, and they turned up every morning with smiles on their faces, even when they’d had a really hard personal day. Watching them tackle the challenges and struggles whilst remaining overwhelmingly upbeat in the face of all the change that was happening was super inspiring and heartwarming. They’ve really impressed me with their resilience, and I’m amazed by them all.

What advice do you have for someone who is thinking of studying data at CodeClan?

Come to a webinar, open session and/or a taster session. You get to hear exactly what the course is about, you get to chat with the instructors who will be teaching you and ask them all your questions, and you get a feel for what the CodeClan environment is like. 

If you can’t make an open session, Aileen and I also did a podcast with The Data Lab where we chat all about the course, and we have a past student from the course on it too talking about their experience. So that’s really worth a listen as we go into a lot of depth about the course and probably answer most of the questions people have.   

What do you do in your free time?

I spend pretty much of all my free time outdoors; I like riding my bikes, going up mountains, taking the dogs for long walks, going on weekend adventure trips away… anything that involves fresh air is what makes me happiest. Saying that, if the weather is rubbish I’ll happily stay at home all day pottering around and watching movies, or go chill and have a beer with my friends. 

And finally.. Who would you most like to swap places with for a day?

I’m genuinely not joking when I say I’d quite like to swap places with the dogs for the day. My ideal day pretty much revolves around eating snacks, going for long walks, and sleeping somewhere comfy, so their life sounds like it would just be a more relaxed version of my own.

If I had to pick an actual human being, I’d pick Lee Craigie. She gets to ride her bike in really beautiful places and works on improving Scotland’s active travel options at the same time. Sounds like a win-win to me.


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