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Lu works on client site in Hyattsville, MD with the Centers for Disease Control, slicing and dicing vital statics of the nation—births and deaths, the most basic data at a human level.
Like a lot of other people, for me it’s been a circuitous path to get into data science. I started out college as an international relations major, because my mom works in the foreign service and I wanted to go overseas again.
Then I went into biology. I was average at it, but I loved the systematic approach to learning. Every class you took it got cooler and cooler, and I was around extremely smart people. Then, I did a summer abroad in the Philippines and worked for a mapping initiative. Not all 7,000 Philippine islands are mapped; their evacuation plans for natural disasters like earthquakes and typhoons aren’t as efficient as they can be.
“To start the data science journey, I recommend developing little habits that get you out of your comfort zone every day. You have to practice being uncomfortable.”
I fell in love with the open source mapping community there. There’s a core group of developers who love computers and started mapping on their motorbikes, and I thought, “how do I do that?” Then I found Booz Allen’s Field Guide to Data Science, and here we are. Here at Booz Allen I’ve felt so supported by multiple women in my arena who have given me the chance to learn, I hadn’t had any formal classes in data science, so I was doing “homework” after work. I’m grateful for the Women in Data Science group. That’s how I got connected with our Data Science for Social Good efforts and 911 call data hackathon.
People have been very generous with their time. They have taught, encouraged and mentored me. I want to pass along those good vibes, encourage other women and tell them, it’s ok to start at step one: not knowing anything. And if you do want to start the data science journey, I recommend developing little habits that get you out of your comfort zone every day. You have to practice being uncomfortable. You have to start noticing progress no matter how small. I’m doing this right now by drawing. I’m objectively bad. But by setting aside 15 minutes, I see progress and get to laugh at myself daily. Drawing isn’t related to my career. But trying something new, well, now that doesn’t feel as scary.
Scientists like Lu partner with clients across all industries to provide services and solutions that enable them to do their job better. Join our team by searching current openings below.