Those who attended the first Budapest dbt Meetup in May, might already be familiar with Son N. Nguyen. He is the young data ninja who was asked by Mark Rittman himself to co-present his talk. This time we asked Sonny not about the secrets of dbt but about himself. It’s time to discover how he transformed from an economist to an Analytics Engineer, how he got hooked on Hiflylabs and what role the iconic spiral staircase played in this story.
Reading time: 3 min
When did you get in touch with IT?
I have always been pretty interested in technology and IT. Even as a kid, I had many gaming consoles and played a lot. However, I did not continue my education in this field, and after high school, I started studying economics. I thought that IT was too dry for me. I wanted to understand the human world in its context, so I oriented myself towards the social sciences. Ultimately, I chose to turn back to informatics, as all my interests and experiences led me toward data. I realized that practically everything started to spin around data: news, politics and even soccer.
I didn’t have to give a second thought to the direction of my Master’s degree. I’m currently doing my MS in Data Science at the Central European University (CEU). How come I’m working in Data Engineering but studying Data Science? Well, I believe that having knowledge from both sides of data is highly beneficial in the field.
It makes my position at Hiflylabs more agile and flexible. Sometimes the Data Analyst team needs someone who knows Data Science while the task is related to Data Engineering. That’s when I step in.
At Hiflylabs, I started as a junior Data Engineer. By now, I’m an Analytics Engineer, basically at the crossroads of the two main data-related roles: Data Engineering and Data Science or Analysis.
Which leads to a more robust knowledge or mindset: learning or working?
I believe that work experience is a lot more powerful. I’m not sure if I could learn Data Engineering skills on my own, but joining Hiflylabs has given me a quick and easy introduction to the main elements of this field. You’ll be very motivated to learn new things when surrounded by the right people who can show you there’s much more to this job than data cleansing. The best way to master these skills is by practice.
Do you feel like you are surrounded by people like that?
Absolutely! András and Zsombor have taught me a lot in the last year and a half, and I feel there is still much more to come. The way they teach me about data, and their enthusiasm about the field and some of the tools or technologies, are just so inspiring. I feel like I’m starting to be like them in this respect. It’s a constantly evolving field that can solve more and more interesting problems.
Do you remember how you first met Hiflylabs?
I followed Hiflylabs on social media for months before I applied, and I knew some people who were already working for the company. I first started to study their career paths and then browsed the website, and I was very impressed by the company’s values . I also checked out the office because something I’ve learned about myself is that I hate working in “all-glass offices”. I was simply fascinated by the spiral staircase. It made me realize that Hiflylabs is not a stressful, suit-wearing workplace, but a friendly and supportive one.
I first applied to the Data Platform team. During the interview process, it became clear that I was not the right fit for the position, but I felt the desire to join the Hiflylabs team. András and Zsombor immediately saw how motivated I was to get closer to data analytics and gave me his vote of confidence. I remember how excited I was when they got back to me with a positive answer.
What was your first experience at Hiflylabs?
When I joined, COVID was around so I did not have the chance to meet my colleagues for three months. But after this, my first personal experience was when Andi Lukács, who is responsible for onboarding, showed me around and introduced me to people, and I could feel that everyone was genuinely interested in me, there was this welcoming feeling and I really appreciated this.
What would you say to IT students still figuring out their careers?
I meet many people who are still unsure about their career path, and I always say just go on and study something. This way you sure will make something out of it! However, I think it is easiest to switch to IT from economics, as it is fewer steps away than some other fields. I was motivated, and I had some skills to make the move, but also I had a lot of support from the community that surrounded me, which made me sit down and study even in my free time.