5 Minutes With... ACS Graduate Member Ankita Sareen
30th June 2020
- This week we sat down with ACS Graduate Member Ankita Sareen to talk about her career trajectory, things she wishes she’d have known starting out and how ACS has benefited her emerging career journey.
- She shares with us her experience of tertiary studies in tech and the formation of QUT BANDS to help connect industry and students and help solve real industry problems.
1. What is the key piece of advice you would have given your younger self when starting out your tertiary studies in tech?
Firstly, enjoy the process, take units that challenge you and propel your learning. You should go out of the university with a feeling and sense of achievement, having added more dimensions to your learning curve. Secondly, get involved in university clubs – whatever aligns with your area of interest.
If you are looking for professional development get involved with clubs that focus on industry connect, skill development and networking. I am very surprised that students go through the whole university experience without getting involved in any student bodies – you are missing a huge chunk of an important life long experience. Students who are actively engaged in clubs are usually better placed to secure their dream jobs later.
2. What have you enjoyed the most in your data science and project roles at Suncorp? How/why did you select this particular area of tech to specialise in?
My Masters in IT degree in QUT has been a stepping stone in establishing my career in IT. For me it was shift in career trajectory. I come from a Public Relations, Advertising and Digital Marketing background and as with all things the shift to technology was prevalent. I specialised in Business Process Management because that aligned with my digital marketing and management background the most.
I took Statistical Data Analytics and Data Manipulation units to compliment my Business analysis skills. How can you leverage data to make it meaningful and comprehensible for senior management? Such a combination helped me chart a career in Business Analysis and eventually in Project Management.
All the units from my masters degree were very practical and allowed me to implement strategies in my various roles within Suncorp. While theory helped me with understanding, practical application established the learning curve. Hence, I always advice students to align their interests with core skills. If you have an analytical bend of mind – choose units that will help you enhance them.
3. Tell us about your experience in establishing QUT Bands and how student groups like QUT Bands can help build your employment networks?
As I started out my education in a new country, I found a lot of my international classmates were struggling to find connections. A means to get a foot in the door. That really propelled the idea of a club that caters to industry and student connections. I think all theory is of no use if it has no practical applications. And to get practical knowledge industry experience is a must.
Hence, QUT BANDS was formed. The core founding principles being providing a platform where students can present ideas that can solve real industry problems. It has been most fulfilling for me to see how BANDS has shaped up to be a means to get QUT students, who are interested in careers in Business Analysis and Data Science, connected to the workforce.
We hosted a range of industry events like interviews, panel discussions and further solidified the role academics can play in industry by way of Industry projects. Everyone who has been actively involved in the club found their dream jobs by way of these sessions that allowed face time with companies which ranged from innovative Tech start-ups to established Industry leaders.
As a student, lean into such forums if you want a job. The majority of recruitments in Australia are through networks. Someone knows someone who fits the role and voila you are in!
I am still surprised when I ask students, who are struggling to land a job, on their involvement with clubs, forums, meet-up groups etc. and the answer is always they never took the initiative.
4. Tech changes fast. How do you keep your tech skills up-to-date?
Absolutely true, raging tech of today is obsolete in the future. You are always a student if you are in this industry. People who are not resilient and stuck minded often find their skills becoming redundant. I am a keen learner, I keep up to date with industry certifications, volunteering with industry bodies and being connected to the university. There is always something to learn.
5. How has ACS membership supported your career journey as an emerging tech professional?
ACS has a very special place for me. ACS was the first industry sponsor that QUT BANDS had. With their support we arranged a speed networking event where 13 tech companies and 75 students participated, in an event based on the speed dating format.
ACS through their consistent efforts have been playing an important role in match-making IT students with IT companies looking for those skills. Moreover, the ACS resources help you keep up to date with the latest tech skills and industry movements.
Again, if you want to be in the industry, connect with the relevant industrial body and ACS is the peak body in Australia for IT, so no brainer.
"5 Minutes With..." is a series of articles showcasing exceptional ACS Members and their amazing, innovative, and game changing stories. Representing over 45,000 tech professionals across Australia, our Members work across industry, government, research, and education organisations and each edition highlights the role they are playing in making Australia a world leader in technology talent, fostering innovation, and creating new forms of value.