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Meet JiaMin – Mathematician, Data Analyst, TechLady

The TechLadies Bootcamp is a 12-week part-time accelerated learning program designed to help women with some basic programming background become programmers. Participants are guided by industry experts, creating products for non-profit organizations. 6 ladies were chosen for the TechLadies Bootcamp #3. In this blog series, we will be sharing more about their backgrounds and learning journeys. Hopefully that'll inspire you to start learning how to code!

If you could tell a story about yourself in one or a few sentences, what would it be?

Born and raised in Brunei, I moved to Singapore to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematical Sciences at Nanyang Technological University where I discovered an unexpected love for coding. Upon graduation, I went on to complete a Masters of Science in Financial Mathematics at the University of Chicago. My passion for Mathematics stems from my enjoyment in tackling challenging problems.

My hobbies include yoga, baking and hiking.

What are you currently working as?

I am currently working as a Data Analyst at Bloomberg where I apply technology solutions to provide data to the financial markets in an accurate and timely manner. Previously I was working in a business development role at a construction company in Brunei.

What sparked your interest in learning how to code?

I love coding because it is really fun to break a complex problem into smaller pieces: solving them individually and compiling them together. There is something relaxing about isolating problems into little categories and solving them one at a time, and I experience that a lot when coding. Coding is fundamentally about creating solutions to problems. The best part about coding is that you can make things that are useful to other people and improve their lives in some way.

It wasn’t easy for me to come to love programming. Growing up in a traditional family, I would not receive any gadget or technology-related presents unlike my brothers as my parents believed that such toys were only for boys. So I never thought to explore or pick up any IT skills when I was younger. My first real exposure to programming happened when I was in college – where I had to take a class on C++ as part of my Math degree. That class blew my mind. It opened my eyes to programming and made me realized how much I enjoy creating applications and interacting with computers. I am very happy to be a part of TechLadies as I truly enjoy expanding my technical skills in a tight-knit community.

Despite the abundance of resources out there, it was difficult to figure out how to solve problems when one has to figure out how to fit all the pieces together to get the code to look and behave the way you expect it to.

What was your first thought or reaction when you heard about TechLadies?

When I first heard about TechLadies after seeing their ads on Facebook, the first thought that came to my mind was how great the community-led initiative was in terms of introducing more women to the tech industry and encouraging them to have a career as programmers!

Why did you want to apply to the TechLadies Bootcamp?

I applied to TechLadies Bootcamp because although my work involves some programming, I don’t have any experience building a web application. Building a web application has always been one of my life goals because I am fascinated by the works of a web application. With Facebook, Google and the likes, applications play a big part in our everyday online life.

You had to create an app before you could apply to the bootcamp. Tell us more about the app you made!

For my application to the TechLadies Bootcamp, I created an events listing app (see my codes here). The choice was simple, I simply picked an idea out of the 4 ideas listed on the TechLadies website and ran with it. Attending all of the pre-bootcamp workshops definitely helped me with creating an application. I have also supplemented my learning journey by reading a bunch of online resources. I would definitely recommend RailsGirls guides and reading the documentation of the appropriate gems for the application.

Describe the TechLadies project you’re working on and why you selected this project. 

My TechLadies project is with I Am Talented, which helps students to discover their talents in non-academic pathways. This is especially meaningful to me because academically, I was a late bloomer. It might be hard to tell now, but I was really bad in Math back in primary school. I would always fail my exams despite how much time I’ve spent studying. My self-confidence took a big hit. It was only when I’ve graduated into secondary school where maths is all about logic and algebra (none of those abacus and memorizing work) that I started excelling in my studies.

Because of my experience, I understand that studying in Singapore can be stressful and damaging on one’s self-confidence. IAT struck me as a great social empowerment initiative for youths to not only discover their strengths but also hone their talents and overcome challenges. I hope that pursuing non-academic pathways may help students also similarly find their footing early on in life and develop their self-esteem. I believe it is important to develop the next generation as they are our future leaders. I also believe in the power of education and that education comes in many forms (not just academic).

How do you see yourself using your coding skills for in the future?

Through TechLadies Bootcamp, I hope to meet more women in the tech industry and to gain insights on having a career as a programmer. Besides that, I want to develop a web application that not only meets the basic requirement of I am Talented but to go above and beyond their specifications!

I would also like develop more web applications that can significantly improve people’s lives. In particular, I believe that information overload from endless streams of tweets, texts, emails or interesting articles on Facebook is a struggle many people face everyday. If I am able to develop an application that tackles this problem holistically, it would be a big check on my bucket list.

In the future, I would like to keep learning and developing my technical skills. Technology is an ever evolving industry and I believe there is much to learn in order to be agile and to remain relevant in the industry.