From Physics to Coding and Big Data at Apple with Ellen Leahy
We caught up with Ellen Leahy, who is a great example of how Physics degrees can open doors to a variety of careers. Graduating in 2018, Ellen has since used her studies to enter into the world of coding and big data and is now working at Apple as a Big Data Analyst.
Hi Ellen, thank you for joining us on the Physics blog! Firstly, did you expect to be in the job you are now when you graduated from UoM?
Certainly not, I don’t think I even knew what a data analyst was when I graduated from university! I knew I wanted to do something that involved coding, but I wasn’t entirely sure what.
What did you do (if anything) at University to explore your career options? Did you get involved in any activities which were unrelated to your degree?
I attended some career fairs, I really recommend these as you can speak to people who have been through the graduate schemes and get real, useful advice. I heard about the Sky’s Software Engineering graduate scheme at a careers fair, and the tips I got helped me to get the role here. It may not have been the right role for me, but it got me on the right track.
Have you stayed in one sector/job role or moved around? Are there any benefits or drawbacks you have perceived to this approach?
I actually started at Sky as a software developer, but I only stayed in this role for about 6 months. I realised pretty quickly that this wasn’t for me, and I was lucky enough that the company helped me find another role as a product analyst that suited me a lot better. While I may not have enjoyed being a software developer, I don’t think I’d have my current role in Apple without the experiences I gained from this time. It’s perfectly okay to realise a job isn’t for you, and you can take the things you do learn into a different role, bringing something another candidate might not be able to.
What challenges, obstacles or setbacks have you faced so far in your career?
After almost 2 years at Sky, I found myself getting bored and frustrated in my role. I felt I was under-performing as I really wasn’t enjoying it and it got me really down. In the end I looked around for different roles and left to go to Apple. I think a lot of people get to this point after a couple of years in the same role, so definitely look around internally and externally for any other opportunities, and don’t be afraid to try something new if it looks exciting!
If you could go back in time what one piece of advice would you give yourself as a UoM student regarding your career?
Do some more research into the different types of roles available, there is such a wide variety of jobs that I didn’t know about at all. Also, if you’re not enjoying a role don’t be afraid to speak out, a good company will want you in a position where you’re happy and performing at your best.