Self-proclaimed “data enthusiast” Fatoumata (Fatou) Sankare didn’t begin her career as a data scientist. The accomplished doctoral student studied political science and cybersecurity before she joined Booz Allen’s Tech Excellence program. In just 3 months, Fatou became a skilled data professional. Now, she finds, collects, cleans, and manipulates data to help our clients develop better business solutions and meet their missions.
We sat down with Fatou to learn more about her experiences with Tech Excellence and how the program of like-minded people has enhanced her career path.
What brought you to Booz Allen?
It was a desire to work in the tech world. After graduating with my master’s in cybersecurity, my job wasn’t as tech heavy as I wanted. I applied for a few cybersecurity positions at Booz Allen, and when a recruiter reached out to me, I was surprised that it was for a role in data science. When I said I didn’t have formal training in data science, she told me about the Tech Excellence program. She explained that with my cybersecurity background and through this training, I’d be prepared to do meaningful, mission-driven work as a data scientist. She encouraged me to connect with Tech Excellence graduates to learn about their experiences, and they told me about the perks, benefits, and guarantees of the program.
What was Tech Excellence like for you?
I participated in the program virtually, but I felt like I really got to know the people in my cohort. We shared the same desire to learn data science, and with our diverse backgrounds, we each had something unique to contribute. Tech Excellence humbled me. There were things I thought I knew, like Python, until I had to apply them to another area of the industry. Our instructors were encouraging and supportive. If I got stuck working on a scenario, they were happy to step in and show me what I needed to know.
Did it have an impact on your career?
It influenced my career, as well as how I now approach my doctoral program and my dissertation. I understand why data is important, how it works, and the ways I can apply it to real-world scenarios. We’re heading into a future driven by cybersecurity and data, and I suspect we’ll start seeing cybersecurity specialists who focus on data. I’ll be the perfect person for that thanks to Tech Excellence.
What advice do you have for someone considering joining Tech Excellence?
Come to the program with an open mind and don’t be quick to give up. You won’t be an expert on your first day or likely even your third week, but it’ll all come together. You’ll need to tap into your imagination as you learn, and you’ll get to do the exciting things that everyone wants to do with data. For me, joining Tech Excellence was a leap of faith, but it was worth it because I know I’m exactly where I’m meant to be.