Meet Junior Database Engineer and Code First Girls alum Katie Papworth

3 min •
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Last year, we sponsored a group of high performing women to take a Code First Girls Nanodegree to kickstart their tech career. Meet Katie Papworth, a former school teacher and now Junior Database Engineer

Firstly, welcome to Zopa! Can you tell me what your role is here?

I’m working alongside the Data Excellence team as a Junior database engineer.

Why did you choose the Code First Girls NanoDegree?

I stumbled upon CFG in a google search back in early 2021 when I was searching for alternative careers to mathematics teaching. I decided to join one of their career switcher courses (an introduction to Python) sponsored by Zopa. I thoroughly enjoyed learning a new skill and the instructors were excellent at helping us grasp new concepts! I can remember Courtney jumping on a session at the end of the course and explaining the nanodegree Zopa were sponsoring, and I knew instantly it was the path I wanted to take! Zopa’s values and people were the biggest driver for me to pick Zopa as my sponsor for the nanodegree.

What Nanodegree did you study?

I followed the data stream (the other new Zopians all followed the software stream). In the data stream we covered the basics of SQL and python before specialising. In the specialisation part of the course, we focussed on data cleansing & transformation, Pandas & NumPy for analysis and visualisation, Matplotlib for graphs, machine learning & predictive modelling.

*Can you tell me about a project you did as part of the course8

My group analysed data to see whether baby names in the UK are affected by character names in movie releases. We used lots of tools to do this (such as pandas, sklearn, matplotlib...) and managed to get some interesting results. We found the most influential name to be ‘Riley’ after Inside Out was released back in 2015, with its popularity increasing by 71.3%. We also split names into heroes and villains and found that, for our sample, the popularity of a baby name would increase by 11% for a hero character and decrease by 19% for a villain character.

What are you most excited about being here at Zopa?

How much I can learn from everyone in the business and develop my skills in tech!

Now, tell me more about yourself. How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Creative, happy & nerdy!

Tell us about your background

A lot of my life choices have been focused around my love for mathematics. I studied mathematics at University, I then went on to work in accounting for KPMG before deciding I wanted to pursue a career in teaching. I have taught mathematics to secondary school students for the past 6 years. Their ages ranged between 11 and 18 and I particularly enjoyed teaching Core Maths (a post-16 qualification focussed on real-life mathematics, e.g. loans, mortgages and statistics). I also set up my own business during my maternity leave where I created personalised wire words and shapes.

Who inspired you to get into tech?

Honestly, Pete & Millie on the introduction to Python course were my first source of true inspiration! They were fab and Millie is an ex-teacher, so a lot of what she said resonated with me. I initially started the course to test the waters and see if it felt like the right career move for me, and thanks to their teaching, patience & help with the Python basics, I’m now starting my very own career in tech.

Now what are your thoughts on women considering tech as a career?

Explore the paths you could take and try not to be overwhelmed by the number of possible careers. I know I got a bit lost looking at all the possible avenues that suited my mathematical & creative needs. I’d say have a think about what you enjoy and then look at the CFG website and sign up to one of their introductory courses. I love problem solving so I signed up to a Python coding course as it seemed like a good fit. The courses are usually one evening a week for a few weeks and are a good indication as to whether you will enjoy coding/that field of tech!

Why do you think women are so important in tech?

Women often see things differently and can offer unique ideas. Having women in higher positions within firms also helps make other women feel represented and heard, and act as role models to younger women. A lot of the big names in tech (Mark Zuckerburg, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk) are male, and I think it’s so important for there to be more females up there that can inspire more female students to study STEM subjects and enter the world of tech!

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