Karen Bold (MSc Applied Data Science [Degree Apprenticeship], Level 7 DTSS 2022)

Karen Bold

My name is Karen Bold and I graduated from my Applied Data Science MSc from the University of Buckingham and Level 7 Digital and Technology Solution Specialist Degree Apprenticeship through Avado in the summer of 2022 – on my 51st birthday actually!

I had been working at 3 Mobile in customer analytics, mainly using SAS. I always enjoyed learning new things and challenges but somehow one year in the job, became twelve and I assumed I had found my level and settled into the routine. Then I heard about the apprenticeship. It sounded such an exciting opportunity, but I assumed I would be too old or not capable of it… all of this ‘new’ cloud technology and open-source skills. I had many years of experience in data analytics, but I had learned on the job, did not have formal maths or programming training.

I couldn’t turn down the opportunity without giving it a go, so I applied and to my delight, my age was no issue, and my on-the-job experience was welcomed. I was really nervous, but right from the start, I felt supported and guided through what to expect. The timeline of modules and assessment was laid out, I was given access to student support through Avado and from the University, and given 20% time off work to focus on the apprenticeship, which worked really well.

The progress was not plain sailing. Covid lockdown happened six months in, then a year in, I was diagnosed with a health condition that required me to take some time out. Throughout all this, the University were incredibly supportive and professional. They organised online lectures and tutorials, exam practise, online exams. When I needed time out, they were flexible on dates, allowing me a break in learning, and once I recovered they reinstated my Viva assessment… and here I am with my qualification!

I learned so much during the course… from a baseline of analytical and research approaches, maths and stats… through a technical grounding of python programming, systems, machine learning and visualisation learning to business application in the strategy module and final project. My final project generated a predictive model in telecoms prepaid churn with a cumulative uplift of 4, so great value to the business.

The greatest benefits to me, were not only the new skills, already applied to business problems, and the networking and interaction with other learners, but the confidence this gave me. After spending fifteen years in the same role, my eyes had been opened to my capabilities and the opportunities in the wider market. I took the brave decision to look for a new challenge. I was astounded and delighted by the amount of interest I received. I had assumed my age would go against me, but I discovered that the combination of my experience, my new confidence and the evidence of my MSc in Applied Data Science was a winning one. Every interview I had wanted me back and I my experience and knowledge are really respected in my new role.

I can honestly say, it was hard work, but taking the apprenticeship was one of the best decisions of my life. It has certainly been instrumental in the amazing changes in my life over the last couple of years. I would definitely not be where I am today, without it … never stop taking opportunities to learn.