By Sarah Pounders
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From Screenwriter to Data Analyst, read about Eugenia’s journey into tech.

As the tech industry gets ever-bigger, its needs are changing. The soft skills acquired with oft-lampooned liberal arts degrees are becoming in-demand, as tech companies find they desperately need the humanity of someone with a humanities major. It’s more and more common to see folks working in the tech industry with non-traditional backgrounds, and as a writer-turned-database manager, I’m one of them.

I’m certified in Raiser’s Edge, which is (although exceedingly ugly and difficult), a very widely used donor database software in the nonprofit world. My certification and subsequent employment in this realm of data analysis was a result of my tendency to say “yes” coupled with an endless desire to learn. While data wrangling and hygiene doesn’t seem that exciting, after years of being in school and writing for myself, the ability to be useful in a specific, measurable way was thrilling. Beyond that, my background in storytelling constantly helps me push through the drudgery that comes with database work. Instead of getting frustrated when my queries don’t give me what I want, I cast myself as a detective combing through evidence to help me find the culprit (spoiler alert: bad criteria). It can actually be fun!  

At the same time, it’s definitely been a funny shift in perspective. I never thought of myself as terribly logical and have avoided math as much as possible—and now, all of a sudden, I’m the technical expert of a system that is built on math and logic. Imposter syndrome, anyone? Sometimes it’s a struggle not to feel like a fraud, but when I let go of my idea of what a tech person should be, I’m able to see how, actually, I’m a perfect fit. I’m able to see that my academic background gave me the discipline needed to learn something entirely unfamiliar, I’m able to see that my creativity allowed me to be flexible enough to adapt to this new world, and I’m able to see that—while I won’t be doing code blocks anytime soon—I’m still a valuable team member.

It’s no secret that the tech industry can be extremely insular and (ironically) disconnected from the rest of the world—and that’s obviously not great for long term sustainability. Not only can “non-tech” folks bridge communication gaps between engineers and investors, they also provide valuable outside perspective.

I’m in the process of expanding my technical skillset in order to pursue jobs that will give me greater freedom to be creative—and while I don’t know exactly where I’ll be in five years, I know that I’ll belong.

Eugenia is a Data Analyst at Savannah Country Day School in Savannah, Georgia.  She holds a Master’s Degree in Film Studies and Screenwriting from SCAD.  You connect with her on LinkedIN.  

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