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Office Hours: I’m the Director and Data Science Product Manager leading the US Navy’s first data focused consulting division. I’m Teneika Askew. AMA!Featured

Hi Elphas!

I’m Teneika Askew and I’m a leader in the US Navy’s first data focused consulting division, Data and Digital Transformation. I specifically lead the Data Science program delivering advanced analytics/AI/ML solutions and advisory services.

I am an engineer by nature, specializing in big data, with over 9 years of combined experience in entrepreneurship and IT consulting.

My personal mission is to improve access to big data and alleviate the technical assistance gap in entrepreneurship communities by driving growth for women and small businesses.

Before the US Navy, I was in consulting and at a tech company helping organizations understand how to create Agile and data driven organizations so they could begin to understand the stories behind their data.

My social entrepreneurial journey began when I founded the non-profits Ribbons of Beauty and BiCTech to mentor and advise high school women and student entrepreneurs in NC and DC. We impacted over 200 women and contributed to the economic advancement of 500+ minority women.

I currently help thousands of women pivot and enter technical fields by sharing resources to upskill, reskill or grow into your dream role via Twitter (@teneikaask_you) and LinkedIn (teneikaaskew). I've also help build and manage communities and DEI programs for my employers!

Ask me anything about entrepreneurship, mentorship, upskilling resources, big data, data visualization, or anything else!

Thanks so much for joining us @teneikaaskew!Elphas – please ask @teneikaaskew your questions before Friday, June 24th. @teneikaaskew may not have time to answer every questions, so emoji upvote your favorites 🔥👍🏾➕
Hi @teneikaaskew, - Can you talk more about how you founded non-profits Ribbons of Beauty and BiCTech? I'm from Costa Rica, living in the UK, and I would like to do something similar over there. - What have been the main lessons or trends you have learned when helping women pivot and enter technical fields?
Howdy, Teneika, I follow you on Twitter, and it always makes my day when I see you share a link or resource, and how many people you help - Myself included! How have you seen studying and analyzing data change over your 9 years in the field?
Hi Teneika, I follow you on linkedin and I really appreciate your posts and the impact your making is inspiring! I was wondering if you had any advice on improving mindset especially when learning new / difficult things? I find myself losing confidence in my abilities very quickly and constantly second guessing my ability to succeed in technical challenges prematurely.
Hey TeneikaI'm a career changer. I've been working in the government sector for quite some time and I decided to get by MS in Data Science. I've finally landed a role in field and in about to start soon. I'm nervous. Any words of advice for someone starting out? Any advice for a woman of color? Are you open to mentoring? Anything i should know it do before i start?
Thank you for doing an AMA! From your view, what are the biggest skill gaps in the talent market regarding analytics/DS/ML/AI? Where is there a lot of opportunity but not enough people to fill the roles? Also, what advice do you have for someone who has been working in analytics/DS for 6 years and is interested in working towards leadership or being a people manager? Any questions I should ask myself to determine if this is a good fit, or skills I should start developing, or mindshifts I should work on?
Your experience sounds amazing. Do you have advice for people who have been working in data science/ML for 5+ years who are trying not to stagnate at that point? Do you think it is necessary for technical people to have an online creative presence outside their work?
Hi @alexisr🚀 I highly recommend continuously learning in these roles. I can say I'm still learning daily and statistics is my sore spot but working with colleagues who have strengths in statistics helps, A LOT. You can only grow if you allow yourself the time to learn and apply the knowledge and skills you need to stay current or ahead in the market place. I highly recommend following Towards Data Science on Medium, Microsoft Research, Meta Research and Google Research publications and articles as well as continuously practicing your code - When I did not use it for almost a year it was tough to get back into Python and try to pick up PySpark. Similar to the advice given to @bnrara - build your online presence and opportunities will also come your way. The more you talk about your field of work, the bigger the challenge is for you to stay current. Talking about your work or the industry requires you to read/research often and practice tools, languages and skills very often. While you don't HAVE to have an online presence, I have found that having one has benefitted me a lot in my career! Personally and professionally I have had a lot of opportunities outside of work that have helped me upskill and promote myself in my role and outside of work.
Hi Teneika👋🏼 I’ve seen your LinkedIn resource posts and they’ve been very helpful! I’m currently in the UX Mentorship program She Designs. I finish in a few weeks and am looking for my next step. I’m looking at internships, apprenticeships and entry level jobs. As a career switcher from Construction I have little tech experience, do you have any advice on how to position my new skills and previous experience as a positive to tech recruiters?
Hi @meaganmiles🎉 I think the construction industry is amazing, it's one of the industries where apprenticeships began. I would definitely take a moment to understand the differences between all 3 - in summary internships are available to individuals pursuing a four year degree or higher, apprenticeships are available to a set group of individuals (company/govt specific requirements) and entry level roles are available to anyone. I would consider the skills that you have in construction, who are you working with daily (cross-functional stakeholders), how do you solve problems, what research do you do, how do you communicate with stakeholders, what frameworks do you use to deliver your work (think project management frameworks like waterfall/agile), what impact have you made in your role? Thinking through these things will help you frame your transferable skills to roles in the tech industry. BTW did you know tech companies have real estate divisions that often hire individuals from construction and real estate backgrounds. You can still pivot into tech by leveraging your current background construction while receive the perks of tech companies. Another big role to transfer into is logistics and project management - companies need both!
Hi @teneikaaskew. Thank you for doing this and introducing me to Elpha. I’d never heard of the platform before but I love it so far. I have extensive Excel knowledge and experience and I have a lot of knowledge in the banking and fintech space. It’s been difficult to convey this to companies on my resume because I’ve worked in an audit role for so long. I have A Google Data Analytics certificate and I have worked on my own projects for my portfolio. Any advice on the best way to pivot?
Hi Teneika!! I wanted to ask if you had any advise for me in regards to finding a tech role. I graduated with my Masters in MIS in December of 2021, I have a retail background, and no experience in tech. I’m currently enrolled in courses suggested by you but I’m having a very hard time finding an entry level tech role. It’s depressing because I feel like the Degree that I worked very hard on and actually enjoyed doesn’t matter.
Hi Teneika! I’m currently working for a background screening firm (I’ve worked here 6 years) and I’m looking to transition into a tech career. What do you suggest? I was looking into boot camps, Google certificates, perscholas, etc. I’ve been looking into data analytics, UX design, and full stack development.
That's a good question. I am currently looking to transition - with a special love for proptech/automation of the built environment to tap into it's data - wonder
*I wonder whether to choose the boot camp for data analytics or full stack development.
Hi Teneika, I immigrated here 8 years ago, my B.S is in Applied Math and I used to be teller and AML Analyst here in US. I started learning SQL a few months ago and am beginner at Power BI. I was wondering how I can show my abilities to employers to get an entry level data analyst positions? I don’t know where I should start at. I’ve been looking to find a mentor but so far I haven’t found anyone. I appreciate your help.
Hi @bnrara 🥳 Showcasing your abilities means sharing your abilities. There are a lot of people completing trainings and upskilling but how are you different from everyone else? Do you have a portfolio? Do you talk about what you are learning on social platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter? There are recruiters doing searches for talent daily and the more you talk about what you are learning and share your journey the higher you return in those search results. When you also appear you stand out if you have a portfolio of projects - every training has tasks typically that you should be completing. Save those queries and write blog posts or build a query notebook that discusses why you ran this query, results and impact. It showcases your abilities. Mentoring also does not have to happen 1:1 - you can join Meetups, Discords, GroupMes, Slack groups and more to find people who are on the same journey, been on the journey and in their role and experience professionals looking to connect with others. Peer mentoring happens a lot in these forums, from helping with code, to work environment concerns, day to day chatter, challenges and more. There are also official programs like Women Who Code, Mentor Color, Girls in Tech and A LOT more programs/organizations that offer mentorship.
@teneikaaskew, first, thank you for the advice however I am not sure if we still can ask any questions and you can answer or not. Would you recommend to attend a University MS program or any boot camp program to improve our skills? I know it depends on our goal but honestly I don't know which one is more effective to get a job.Thanks again
This is amazing advice. Talking about your learnings out loud is easy, and reinforces the information you are looking to master. I will definitely take heed to this advice moving forward.
I hear a lot that the market for data science is over saturated. Do you find that to be the case?
Hi @minanilchian 🎉 I do not find that to be the case at all because as I'm writing this, I have went on LinkedIn and put in "data scientist" and there are over 450K jobs available and the job outlook according to BLS - for the past 6 years has been that data science is one of the fastest growing careers. Data Science is multifaceted - sharing data analysis, engineering, statistics, and several other disciplines to solve complex problems. Many companies are looking to various ways of managing and making the most of big data and incorporating advanced analytics in their processes and outcomes. There was a shortage of Data Scientists in 2020 and the market still has not recovered.
Hi @teneikaaskew, I've typically used a "fake it 'til you make it" approach when working on a new team in tech (typically young, male, white teams). Which approach(es) have worked for you when you are in the minority in more ways than one?
Hi @DaniellaGennaro 🚀 I've been on teams where I've been the only woman at least in 70% of my roles. I've always tried to bring more women along if that happened - through various roles. I think imposter syndrome creates the fake it til you make it approach and it ends up being annoying when you realize - I'm not faking it because I KNOW THIS! When on teams with men, I've had supportive colleagues and challenging colleagues. I try to meet everyone and understand their roles, if they like to mentor/coach and if they need any mentoring/coaching. I've had teams who done a lot of peer mentoring and it has helped fulfill gap areas I have while sharing my knowledge has helped fulfill gaps they had. Building the trust took time but I had it happen quickly by making my voice know, presence known and contributing often. Women can sometimes remain quiet in a room full of men but I learned after a while that it hindered me more than helped me. So challenge yourself to be you, fearlessly and out loud. Contribute and share your thoughts, don't wait to be called on either.
Hi Teneika,What advice would you give to someone who is considering transitioning from software engineering to data science?
Hi @aatikaseedat 🥳 If you are great with data structures and algorithms, this could definitely be a great move for you! As a SWE, your background in programming will help you pivot to DS focused languages such as Python/SQL, think critically, continuously learn and persevere through the ups and downs that come with data wrangling 😂. I learned data science and data engineering in college and afterwards though self-paced courses, trial and error and lots of reading! Reading forums, technical documentation and research papers along with working on side projects. My downfall when going in the job market was that I did a lot of my side projects with my company - helping different orgs by offering my new skills - haha. So definitely build your brand and presence through those projects and share what you learned. A lot of companies are actually looking for SWEs to work in the DS departments because many tools are being built to help alleviate a DSs workload.
Greetings, @teneikaaskew; my major is cyber security and data analysis. My question to you would be how I would go about leveling up my skills and building a portfolio so that I could set myself apart from others. Thank you for your time.
Hi @daviajones 🎉 Similar to the advice provided to @bnrara building a portfolio allows you to showcase your abilities. You can do this on LinkedIn by creating posts with screenshots and videos, create a blog with write ups and detailed tutorials, creating a Github to serve as example of your completed work, practice work, blogs/write-ups and more. When you are upskilling - taking courses and learning - share your capabilities. I would also refer to everything I said to @bnrara to help you kickstart your journey.
Ho @daviajones I saw this below answer written by Teneika, would you like to study and work on our own portfolio together? we can help each other through this journey.
Hey, @bnrara, I think that is a great idea; just let me know where you would like to start because I am new to this and still learning.
Hi Teneika! I'm happy to see women helping each other enter the technical fields (that may seem daunting at first but actually are pretty interesting).I'm curious about your experience building and deploying AI systems. Has your team ever run into ethical issues with AI system behavior?
Hi @meganannebrozek YES! I am very cognizant of the tools and systems that we use at work and I frequently request reports and testing outputs from companies to review their methods for handling bias in these systems/tools. I also ask my team to build a model in house first before trying it in a tool to compare outputs - I prefer doing this because we can compare results and biases that may exist. The issue with tools, is that they are built with biases from data scientists and software engineers - unless the organization has AI ethics incorporated in their development processes - you may begin to see discrepancies in results from these tool. Having a diverse team helps us as well - we have data scientists from across multiple industries and often use a primary/secondary review cycle to check for biases in models.
@teneikaaskew Thank you so much for offering Office Hours!! Your background and accomplishments are so impressive and inspiring! Looking forward to following your content on LinkedIn! 1. Do you think a data product management role would be a good fit for someone interested in facilitating work between clinicians and data scientists? I have a clinical background (physical therapist) and am currently working on my PhD in clinical research, with training in biomedical informatics. In my work, I help to translate between the clinicians and data scientists and am hoping to find a role in this area after I graduate, but am not always sure what job titles to look for.2. Did you do any advice for finding and preparing for data product management roles, specifically with the military? Prior to my PhD, I worked at Camp Lejeune on several research studies with the Navy and USMC and would love to return to working with the military. 3. So impressed by your ability to balance your role and social media presence providing so much value for others! I find that when I spend time trying to be present on LinkedIn, it detracts from my work. How do make time for content and responses without it impacting other areas of life? Thank you for all your responses to other questions! All were very helpful to read and really appreciate your expertise.