Through Oracle Academy, Kara discovered her path as a woman in technology. When she joined Oracle Data Cloud, she was able to develop her career as a Data Scientist. Being part of a diverse workplace with our culture of flexibility and work-life balance has allowed her to have fun while building tomorrow’s technologies.
Follow Kara on her journey of both personal and professional growth at Oracle.
Finding her passion
Oracle Academy is a program that offers free learning resources to both students and educators to advance computing education globally. For Kara, the program sowed the seeds for what would become her professional passion. “Oracle Academy was an incredibly positive experience for me,” she says. “As it was my first time delving into programming, it became the foundation to my passion for data and analytics. It exceeded my expectations so highly that I had Oracle in mind as a career goal upon graduating from Virginia Commonwealth University as a Computer Science major. Having been able to work hands-on with realistic data sets and projects was key to getting a strong understanding of the program’s subjects. The combination of these learned skillsets and the internships provided by my university me invaluable experiences that aren’t available to most students.”
Upon graduation, Kara achieved her goal of joining Oracle. “I started my journey here automating the creation of some of our older deliverables; these used to be in the form of Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint documents, and PDFs. We dreamed of providing our data to clients in a more elegant, interactive, and scalable fashion, so we set out to build the Moat Outcomes UI. It took years of reinventing pipelines, onboarding front-end talent, partnering with UX teams, figuring out how to maintain a full-stack application, and a lot of learning to make this dream a reality. The Moat Outcomes UI is the biggest and most rewarding project that I’ve ever worked on—it’s now a live, full-fledged website with active customers.”
Today, Kara is a Data Scientist at Oracle Data Cloud, working directly on our measurement product suite. “These products give our clients—both publishers and advertisers—insights that drive optimizations to their advertising campaigns,” she explains. “My role here is to develop and maintain various data pipelines, APIs, and UIs that support and serve our deliverables. I get to witness Oracle’s dedication to delivering the best products and services. We strive for the best, and do an excellent job at following through. Our mission motivates me and is reason enough to love what I do.”
Learning and growing
With its unique landscape, Data Science at Oracle is a field that requires a particular set of skills, as Kara has learned. “With so many different roles to fill, there are those who prefer a position based on modeling and research; others are storytellers with a heavy focus on data; and then there are people like me, who lean more towards the engineering side,” she shares. “As far as technical skills go, programming is necessary—though skill levels vary. We most often use SQL, Python, and R. Beyond where the applied skills really depend on the job. More broadly, it takes a passion for data, new technologies, innovation, and the drive to make sense of something much larger than yourself.”
Fortunately, Kara has many resources available for her to stay sharp. “Being one of the largest tech corporations out there, Oracle has to stay on top of the latest technologies. I’d say we’re good at it, too! In my four years with Oracle Data Cloud, we’ve had at least four large system migrations. In some cases, this simply has been to move from outdated or lesser-performing platforms to the best-available options. However, in others we’ve taken some risks and have been able to experiment with utilizing brand-new services. This commitment to relevancy and openness to research has kept me in a state of constant learning.”
“For me, Oracle’s strongest resource are my brilliant coworkers. I get to work with some of the smartest, nicest people who are always quick to share knowledge and give a helping hand. Additionally, we use Confluence to document internal processes, products, and for training guides. These, along with Oracle’s online trainings, usually get me the answers that I need.”
The right culture
While learning is fundamental to stay in the Oracle game, employees like Kara get to do it in an environment that makes it enjoyable, relaxed, and fun. “I’m fortunate to work at a company that values having work-life balance,” she admits. “We’re very much of the mindset that if you’re getting your work done at pace, then schedules should be flexible and that you should take time off as needed. If I find myself having had a productive week, then I’ll often take off a little early on a Friday and get a head start on my weekend in the mountains. I’m also into running, so I enjoy being able to take a long lunch to get some sunshine throughout the week.”
“Culture is a huge part of what makes working at Oracle so enjoyable, especially here at Oracle Data Cloud, which is a conglomerate of different startups—each has brought their own variation of culture, so we’ve created something inclusive, flexible, and fun. There’s always something to take part in to celebrate our success. Even as we work from home, concern for employee happiness and wellbeing shines through at Oracle in the form of online fitness sessions, ‘spirit days,’ hackathons, and trivia events.”
Women in technology find their way
Besides allowing fun and work to coexist, Oracle’s culture also supports the growth of women in technology. “Growing up, I was always told that technology was a male-dominated industry. When I went through school, this seemed to hold true, so I went into my career expecting to be a minority,” she admits. “To my surprise, this hasn’t been the case at Oracle: brilliant women from diverse backgrounds surround me in my day-to-day, as well as in leadership roles. It’s refreshing and comforting to work in an environment that embodies a feeling of equality.”
Having found the support she needs to develop her career, Kara believes other women can benefit from her experience. Here are her tips for women to find their way in the vast world of technology:
Kara is able to make an impact at Oracle, for the future of its customers, as well as the future of her career. “The products that I support unlock new opportunities for our clients. They help people to discover new insights and see data in a fresh light,” she explains ”Through the years, my role within data science has shifted further towards engineering and I believe that this trend in my professional development will continue. My goal is to, one day, become a full-stack software engineer. In doing so, I believe that I can further expand my skillset and bring new expertise to our products.”
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