Looking back at the passed year 2017 I am transitioning with mixed feeling into the new year. 2017 has been definitely an eventful and insightful year involving a lot of changes and new steps. With up and downs I am concluding this year and looking into an prospective 2018. Doing so I just want to sum up some of my thoughts and experiences on 2017.
Family first - knowing where you come from
Growing older and becoming mature often comes at the risk of loosing yourself in ‘real life’. Moving out of the parents’ nest to study or work decouples you from old family life and brings you into the busyness of the new chapter. Even though I could have called back home more often to talk to my parents I am super happy that we manage to spend our holidays together 2 times the past year. One longer holiday back in our home country Vietnam and one short weekend getaway in Austria. With me and my sister moved out it is increasingly hard to fit a common vacation in our individual schedule - hope it will work out again in 2018. I feel incredibly grateful for the support of my family in every step I’m going. While paths in career are moving forward I think you should never forget where you came from. Especially with the parents growing older and encountering small health issues its even more important to be there and care. That’s why I want to keep this credo in 2018 - family first.
Changes: From Karlsruhe to Munich. From Business Engineering to Data
It’s also been a year of big changes for me. I successfully graduated my Bachelors degree in Industrial Engineering and Management from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and even had the opportunity to visit a scientific conference. Afterwards, I decided to change my study field from Engineering to the informatics-related major Data Science at the LMU in Munich. Besides the fact that Data Science is a very promising field (cited as sexiest job of the 21st century) I really got deeply interested in the field since taking a Machine Learning undergrad course during my exchange year in Newcastle. It was actually quite a big jump for me cause it meant changing my whole environment by leaving Karlsruhe and my comfort zone. Leaving behind what a built up there, a network of great friends a made there at Uni and at the university groups I got involved. Even though I’ve been to Munich several times it feels like starting up again. Finding a new social circle, new interesting groups to get involved to and finally make it feel a little bit like home. Definitely my goal for 2018 is to make me feel comfortable in Munich and make it feel like home while transitioning from a “semi-business guy” to a “techie”.
Life as a consultant - definitely worth an experience
Started studying a few years ago I have been always curious about the consulting business for two reasons. First it seems to be very challenging both in terms of the work and of the application process (yes i like challenges) and second there are very polarising opinions about consulting. I feel like either people regard it as the non-plus ultra career goal they want to achieve or people consider this industry as inhuman, over-prized and a violation against work life balance. So one of my goals was to get my own experience on that, which I achieved by conducting an internship at the consulting firm McKinsey and Company. I have to admit that the preparation process for the interviews was intense and time consuming. Practicing the notorious case studies for the interview took me a few months and felt at least as stressful and intense as an exam period or finishing up a thesis. But in the end it payed off and I got 4 out of 5 offers of the firmed I interviewed with. The internship itself was quite an interesting experience. Indeed people work a lot in this industry but still people survive. My key learning from the internship was that you learn to push the boundaries and what you as an individual are capable of. This pace of working in the consulting environment is just intense with quick iterations of feedback loops and problem solving sessions. Just knowing that this is possible and having seen it first hand was already extending my horizon - even though if you don’t decide to continue the path as a hard-working consultant. Also I learned a lot in terms of methodology, efficient work styles and client communication. Also worth mentioning are the smart colleagues and training programs. During my internship I had the luck and opportunity the go on a 3 days training in Spain to learn about robot process automation, IT transformation and agile project management. I’m not sure if I would decide to make it an full time job but within the internship it was definitely an insightful and enriching experience. But for 2018 i want to explore a more technical field and gain experience in raw Data Science to get a further perspective and idea what to do once i finished studying.