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With the heart of an educator, Jamila Holt is always ready to simplify complex concepts. Her career started as a secondary science teacher. During her last year in education for the District of Columbia Public Schools, Jamila served as an instructor where she analyzed students' test scores and coached teachers on how to improve student outcomes. It was during this time that her love of data science blossomed. Now a data scientist using machine learning to predict military readiness, Jamila is immersing herself in data science and volunteer opportunities across the firm.
You've been at Booz Allen since December 2018. What brought you here?
Booz Allen's dedication to diversity, inclusion, and community service stood out from other employers. Since starting, I've found my colleagues to truly be team players. They're eager to reach out, answer questions, and help me navigate new opportunities at the firm.
What are you currently working on?
I'm currently supporting a project that helps predict military readiness using machine learning—assessing whether a soldier can deploy, complete their deployment, reintegrate, and deploy again.
How else do you spend your time at Booz Allen?
Through the firm’s Rebuilding Together partnership, I recently had the opportunity to help an elderly man in Anacostia by organizing, cleaning, and painting his home. I'm also involved in Booz Allen’s Women in Data Science (WiDS) group and recently completed the first-ever WiDS Incubator where I presented my work on cyber intrusion detection. I'm also a member of GLOBE, Booz Allen’s LGBTQ+ employee forum.
During your time as a teacher, you took on a leadership role to help expand the knowledge base of your peers. Tell us about your role and the impact you had.
Over the course of my 13-year career as a teacher, I taught more than 1,000 students. In 2018, a colleague and I led an employee-wide professional development training on brain-based learning, which explored how students learn differently as they grow. We instructed teachers using the same techniques and strategies that we wanted them to adopt in their own classrooms. The training was a success. I was very happy to see these educators excited to implement what they learned.
It takes courage to change careers. What was the catalyst for you, and what would you say to someone else considering a transition?
While I was a teacher leader, I was taking graduate coursework that solidified my interest in critical research and analysis. A friend who was taking a data science immersive course at the time became a great supporter in me making this transition. Although I was at the top of my game as a teacher and the route to becoming a data scientist was a non-traditional path, the immersive and hackathon opportunities gave me the tools I needed to make this change a reality.
For anyone interested in making a career shift, get support from family and friends first; then, hold on to your seat! The hardest part is leaving behind something you know very well.
Complete this sentence: The future is…
Bright and full of opportunity for impact.
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