The Data
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Building the Workforce of the Future

"There cannot be equity in society without equity in data collection, curation, and decisions."

Women in Big Data Founders

Meet Lily: Secrets to securing a job while pursuing grad school

Featuring Lei Lily Tam, University of Southern California (USC) alumna and So Cal Edison Project Management Specialist

By Ilyana “Lily” Salem

Lei Lily Tam

The Women in Big Data (WiBD) So Cal chapter was pleased to feature campus co-lead Lei Lily Tam Q4 2020. As students returned to school for a very different fall term, we were able to welcome them with an inspiring virtual talk by Lily, who pitched how the purpose of academic ambition and career focus can be achieved by dedicated self-care and a game-changing network. The event was posted on our WiBD So Cal MeetUp page, open to members from anywhere in the world and sponsored by the University of Southern California (USC) Marshall School of Business.

Lily works as a project management specialist at Southern California Edison (SCE), where she focuses on data analytics and visualization, reporting and system integration. Lily secured this role recently after interning at SCE. Her ambition is evident in the fact that she started her graduate studies in the M.S. Global Supply Chain Management at the USC Marshall School of Business in Los Angeles, CA concurrently with finishing her undergrad degree there as a progressive student in B.S. Industrial Systems Engineering with a focus on Info Systems. Lily has myths to bust! Academics are not for everyone and neither is the campus career center.

Lily encourages everyone to push themselves to the max if they can to avoid debt and secure a higher pay rate. There’s always time for vacation later! She understands that some candidates may prefer to take time off before pursuing a graduate degree, certificate, or any professional endeavor, but no matter what their approach, self-care is essential. Further, many forms of self care! Lily’s list includes drinking tea as a milder form of caffeine intake over coffee, or even decaf if you crave the taste. Beat burnout by breaking the mold and getting away to new places to see new sights or taking at least one day off to do nothing each week.

Traditional recruiting methods found on campus may be great and even necessary for some candidates, but Lily was already a go-getter when it came to seeking out and developing mentoring relationships, and that ultimately paid off for her career advancement. She also recommends listening to one’s instincts when it comes to the interview. While the campus career center may be great at coaching or mock interviews, it is still essential for a candidate to read the room on their own as they interact with employers. Being ready to listen carefully and leverage how you are a best match based on what you discover during the networking conversation or interview allows a candidate to get to know their potential supervisor in an authentic way, build rapport, and ask effective questions.

Lily is a first-generation student who will graduate this year. Although she will not have a “normal” graduation ceremony for either her B.S. and M.S., she recognizes how completing a degree during the pandemic is an exceptional milestone for all of the Class of 2020. Lily will stay on as a co-lead with WiBD So Cal as she enjoys making connections within the community, in particular to inspire others from underprivileged backgrounds as they pursue data and STEM careers. Aside from her day job, she is a musician, a photographer, and a creative at heart who fills her free time by attending live concerts (when it is safe) and exploring nature.

Follow Lily here:

https://sites.google.com/view/bitsoflilsphotography

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUdExsF6I0iQQpMnFbsQrXw

https://www.linkedin.com/in/leililytam/

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