Meet Judith: From Senior Consultant to Teacher, Entrepreneur & Data Scientist
Meet Judith, a teacher, entrepreneur and data scientist. In her journey into the world of tech, Judith learned how to leverage and manage data in a manner that was presentable in her application, thus the beginning of her company: The Other Option.
“For me, it’s been life changing. I was at a point where I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my work or with my career, but I just knew that I needed a change.”
Hi Judith, could you please introduce yourself?
Hi, I’m Judith Van Leersum and I’m 30 years old living in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. I completed the Data Science bootcamp batch #627 in June 2020 and since then I’ve been working as a TA (teaching assistant) and Teacher for Le Wagon and I’ve also just started my own company.
Can you tell us about your background before joining Le Wagon?
Before joining Le Wagon, I studied International Business Administration and I did a master’s in strategic management as well as one in supply chain management all in the Netherlands. I also did a general management traineeship at Fokker technologies, which is a company that builds parts of airplanes. After this, I became a consultant at KPMG and later a Senior Consultant for robotic process automation. During this time I was working to automate processes for companies and optimizing them as well.
Having worked as a consultant for a few years, can you tell us what made you want to change careers and take on our Data Science bootcamp?
One aspect that I really enjoyed when working as a consultant was being able to work with so many different people and in so many different environments. With this being said, it was very important for me to carry this aspect over, while focusing on creating tools myself and being able to decide what I wanted to work on. The flexibility of this is what made me want to change careers. More specifically, I came to Le Wagon as I was very interested in coding and programming and in making tools for myself and for other people who have great ideas.
When you joined Le Wagon, did you know that you wanted to start your own company or was this something that came to mind during the bootcamp?
To be completely honest, it was a little bit of both. I started because I wanted to build a mobile app and I needed data science to get the data and to manage it in a way that was presentable in the app. With this being said, I didn’t really have the idea of creating a business itself.
During the bootcamp, I found out how many different possibilities there are and how many cool things you can do with data, not only as the background of something else, but also being able to do something with it. That’s when I started the company because I felt like more people could also benefit from this.
Can you tell us about your journey at Le Wagon?
I started the bootcamp in April 2020. I did a lot of the prepwork beforehand as I wanted to ensure that I got the most out of my experience and I was also very interested in it. During the bootcamp itself, I really enjoyed the outline of the program. We had a specific topic that we really dove into during our challenges which we completed with our buddies. We then would recap everything at the end of the day in which everything fell into place. It’s very structured and you get a lot of information, so I would say that it’s very well-rounded. Overall, the bootcamp gives you the foundations in order to be able to do what you’d like to do upon graduating.
I started the bootcamp during a lockdown, so I did start remotely, but we eventually were able to come back on campus. This was of course very exciting for us, especially getting to work with our buddies in person. Coming on campus was really great. It gives the bootcamp an extra dimension as you get to discuss the small things and there’s also this amazing social aspect to it.
Do you believe that joining Le Wagon opened any doors for you?
Definitely. When you join Le Wagon, you join this amazing community of over 13,000 alumni so you sort of feels like you’re a part of this Le Wagon family. Everybody is super open and helpful in the alumni groups. It’s been a while since I’ve found such a community in which everyone wants you to succeed. There’s nobody that’s competing against you or wanting you to fail. In the contrary, everyone is truly trying to get everybody on a higher level and that’s a really nice feeling. There’s also this great creative side of freelance project or co-founders for example where we play off of each others ideas as we discuss amongst ourselves.
Now that you’ve graduated, what does the future hold for you?
Currently, I’m still teaching at the bootcamps, which is a really nice thing to do because it gives you new ideas: it’s a great source of inspiration. I’m also working on many projects of my own as I’ve founded The Other Option, a company to help people turn their creative ideas into technological solutions. Since founding The Other Option, I’ve been working with a few clients and getting some websites up for them. I’m also working on an application myself alongside a friend who is a UX/UI designer. I’m also working on some data science projects with some of my classmates from Le Wagon so I’ve definitely kept busy in the last few months!
The Other Option is a company that I started. As I mentioned previously, I didn’t know that I was going to start a company, but the name The Other Option was already sort of hanging in my head. I was searching for a technical and digital platform and I couldn’t find one, so that’s also why I did the bootcamp: to start learning how to program myself and get that integrated. That’s when I decided that I could be that other option that I was looking for for others.
Do you believe that what you learned at Le Wagon is being directly applied to the work that you do at The Other Option?
Definitely. I wouldn’t have been able to do what I’m doing now without having done the bootcamp. I’ve done mobile app development courses on the side, but I wouldn’t have been able to actually retrieve the data for my project or work on these separate data science projects without having done the bootcamp. I’m currently creating websites for clients in WordPress, but I actually plan on taking the web development course in April, so this will make the company even more rounded and complete. Le Wagon has definitely helped me in every aspect of creating my business.
Being a woman in tech, do you have any advice for anyone that’s really reluctant to join or step into the world of tech?
I’ve always been one of the only women, whether I was studying or working. It’s therefore always been the norm for me to be a minority in this sense. What I do see is that women do suffer more than men do with regards to imposter syndrome, which to me, is a main issue when it comes to pursuing a tech idea or career. I would love for them to not take this into account as much. My biggest piece of advice is to not let the imposter syndrome hold you back. Just go for it because we’re all just doing it. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but you’ll never know unless you give it a try.
Do you believe that diversity makes tech a better place?
Yes, definitely. I think that everyone has different qualities and when you put these diverse backgrounds together, it can be spectacular. In that way, I think we need more women because there’s a lot of different ways that you can look at a specific problem and women sometimes have a different approach. Diversity in itself is something that I think every team should have and especially in tech, I think there’s a lot of things to gain there.
Finally, do you have any advice for someone thinking of joining the Le Wagon community?
The best advice that I can give is to say go for it. For me, it’s been life changing. I was at a point where I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my work or with my career, but I just knew that I needed a change. Going into that full-time 9 week bootcamp was a very intense process, but it was an incredibly motivating experience. Whatever your plans for the future are, taking that time to help yourself improve that margin and learn because you are interested in it is something that’s quite life changing and I advice everyone to do it in one way or another.