How I Went from Dental Hygienist to Pursuing Data Science

Photo by Erick Tang on Unsplash

I walked into the conference room in a hotel and saw a bunch of chairs equally spaced along rows of tables. The room was filled with mostly women. Some were younger, but most were older by ten to twenty years. I was there to learn about new techniques and procedures in dental hygiene, but all I could do was think about my future.

I sat there eating my free, cold pastry and thought about myself as one of those older women. Could I see myself in them? Would I like to be here, doing this, for another ten years? The answer was a quick and decisive, “No.”

I had the inkling that dental hygiene was not my passion a few years ago. Unfortunately, one doesn’t easily pivot to another career from dental hygiene. Making a change would mean a total reset; starting over from scratch. It would be a fresh start and that opened up a lot of options.

There were so many options. Where would I begin to search for a new career? Luckily, I was introduced to the world of data by others at my job and it piqued my interest. I thought back to all the theories I kept in my head; all the tallies of symptoms people had and their potential causes. I was a data scientist at heart! I love asking questions, trying to find patterns and generating hypotheses. It felt as though my brain is wired for this!

I took a statistics course through the local community college and it clicked! After one hears the horrors of taking statistics and find the opposite, it almost solidifies the path. I began looking into options for data science, and boy are there options.

I landed on taking a data science bootcamp. I have completed the first three weeks and it has been everything I expected and more. I anticipated to be thrown in the deep end, drowning in lists, dictionaries and arrays. In the span of three weeks, I have been able to learn more concepts than I did the last two years while attempting to do self-paced lessons.

Learning the essentials of data science has lit a fire inside. I have been pleasantly surprised at the amount of information my brain is able to retain. I’ll admit one of my outlandish concerns was that my lack of youth would have melted my brain’s ability to remember… anything.

I am incredibly ecstatic that bootcamps are an option and that I am fortunate enough to get to explore this dream. Now, the advice for myself is the same for anxious patients, “Take deep breaths and it’ll be over before you know it.”

Aspiring Data Scientist, dog lover and running enthusiast