From Science to Tech: Transitioning my STEM Career Through the JADE Program

Data Intelligence · Nov 5, 2020

The rate at which evolution occurs, the force required to move a specific weighted object initially, or the analytics collected on your site that drives its optimization; a universal law binds everything and all of us - mathematics. Mathematics is the abstract science of numbers that encompasses all themes and topics. It provides the empirical evidence that demonstrates the significance or impact of your findings; either quantitatively or qualitatively. Why is this relevant? Early in my career, I realized I have an insatiable desire to learn more, determine significance, and act upon findings to drive results. Previously I exercised these desires in a science lab, quantifying how specific treatments would affect the rate at which certain bacteria grow. Still, I didn't find this work satisfying as it felt as if I was quite literally watching paint dry as my bacteria grew. I was looking for something career-wise where I could view collected empirical evidence within a given system and strategize changes to drive a positive impact towards a clear goal. Somewhere in the limitless universe, someone heard my call, and I was invited to participate in TELUS Digital’s JADE Program.

JADE stands for Junior Analytics Developer Experience, a program set up to circumvent the issue of finding senior talent to maintain TELUS’ analytics and instead cultivate junior talent to maintain and evolve the analytics systems. The program didn’t search for candidates with previous work experience within analytics; instead, the search focused on looking for individuals with a robust knowledge of Javascript, an enthusiastic interest in analytics, and a curiosity for how data can sculpt the strategic objectives of a business. I had found an opportunity that directly aligned with what I wanted from my career within JADE. With great care and multiple edits, I submitted my application to the program, and just a little over a year ago, I started as a Junior Analytics Developer through JADE. 

My path to JADE

Just under three years ago, I was toiling away at the MaRS Ryerson research facility. To accompany my almost completed Bachelor’s in Biomedical Science and to better understand the genuine work needed in scientific research, I applied to my university’s thesis program. One thing stood out to me in my time growing bacteria in that lab; I didn’t like scientific research. 

Every reactant was self combined and made, and every step had to be followed to the letter or you may seriously jeopardize your results. Experiments could span the entirety of a week only for you to find inconclusive results and to manage the lab itself felt more of my duty than the actual research. The laundry list of possible errors that could happen usually happened. After I had finished my degree and thesis project, I had determined that science research probably wasn’t for me.

While I wasn’t enthusiastic about the physical work scientific research requires, I did gain a better appreciation for something else in my time - statistics. I began to foster a deep appreciation for statistical analysis, feeling this was where real science occurred. Procured data is analyzed for mathematical differences that, depending on the results, help prove or disprove certain hypotheses. This data helps you drive the directive of your next move or provides further evidence to support your expected result. 

Having decided I would shift industries, I began to teach myself coding in hopes of attaining a statistics based role in the tech industry. With code, tedious work can be automated by writing scripts and tech and tools can be used to query or collect data that can be leveraged in strategic business planning. After almost a year of self-teaching, asking friends within the field for their assistance in explaining concepts, I began my search for an opportunity within tech centered around data use. 


The Experience

I learned about the JADE program from a friend who had made a similar career shift. I was even more excited to find the program was centered around analytics development and would include the training necessary to operate the Adobe platforms that TELUS utilizes to collect their analytics. The once curious scientist within me awoke again, and I got to work with teaching myself how analytics platforms operate and collect their values. I even scoured the internet for keywords and ideologies in analytics to familiarize myself; in hindsight, I may have over-prepared, but I was excited about the opportunity and wanted to be chosen.

The JADE program operates by first having its accepted cohort undergo a month-long training session where the TELUS’ analytics platform’s basis is taught. The month following my start date, I felt like I was given an endless array of information. Still, more than anything, I was excited to be learning about analytics as the material very much felt like a hybrid of scientific research and code development. 

My first week in the program was simple. It mainly focused on onboarding, learning how TELUS Digital integrates with the whole of TELUS and how an Agile work environment is conducted. 

The following weeks were not as simple as I began to delve further into the real content surrounding analytics. Initially, I was introduced to straightforward concepts such as the dataLayer, a javascript object monitored by our Adobe tag manager that enables analytics payloads to be sent to our report suites. But as days went by, the material became more increasingly complex, yet I never felt overwhelmed. There was never a shortage of assistance from the lecturers or organizers supporting the JADE program to answer my bizarre questions happily with their own equally bizarre metaphors to simplify the concepts. 

In my final week of training, the JADE team invited an Adobe consultant to Toronto to conduct a live training session for my cohort. Over five days we had the opportunity to learn from Matt Crupe, an esteemed Adobe consultant, which I appreciated as I was able to further consolidate all the information that I had learned over the past month. This also allowed me to ask the complex questions that would get me more comfortable in working with the tools. Once my official training was completed, I transitioned to being a full-time team member supporting B2B, the line of business I was assigned to. 

Life following JADE

In the two months following my formal training, my knowledge and vocabulary exponentially improved. Keywords, concepts, and work-specific acronyms no longer felt foreign; I felt as if I was genuinely integrating into the work environment and culture. Even after my training sessions, and even to this day, I feel as if I continue to learn and better appreciate and understand the work I do and how it integrates into TELUS’ business plan. While initially, I had begun my journey in a lab growing bacteria, I had finally attained my goal of transitioning industries. I was able to leverage my knowledge from research to the work I do as an Implementation Developer. 

While the JADE program was meant to cultivate junior talent into junior implementation developers/analysts, TELUS has a continuous devotion to its team members' self-improvement and that commitment extends to this day. Managers conduct 1:1 interviews with you monthly to assess your progress and provide any support needed for your personal career development. 

Regardless of the career path, you decide to follow; there is no shortage of senior talent ranging from personalization gurus to wizard software developers who are happy to talk of their journey and provide you advice for what the best possible track is to attain your goals.

All my abilities I continually develop while at TELUS are possible thanks to all the fantastic mentors, a limitless supportive team, and a department highlighting the importance of cultivating talent. Furthermore, I’d like to personally give thanks to the endless number of people who supported me in this journey. Your passion and goodwill motivated me to keep moving forward and continuously have fun even while learning.

To learn more about the JADE program at TELUS Digital, check out our blog post outlining the program in depth. Interested in other opportunities at TELUS Digital? Check out our Careers page.

Authored by:
Julien Rios
Julien Rios
Implementation Developer
Julien Rios is an Implementation Developer on Telus Digital's B2B team. When he's not writing code trying to improve data collection you can usually find him practicing dance choreography in the park or huddled inside playing videogames.