Elizabeth Naameh was the first Data Coach to join our US team and she delivers our Data apprenticeship program, democratizing access to great careers for people across America. In this blog, Elizabeth shares how she transitioned from a Computer Science Teacher to a Data Coach at Multiverse - the perfect combination of her skills and ambitions.
Elizabeth, talk us through your inspiring career journey. Why did you transition from teaching to data science?
I actually fell into teaching by accident. My undergraduate studies centered on international development and education in the Middle East and Africa. This ignited my passion for educational equity, but I also felt stuck post-graduation with skills that didn’t seem to translate to the US job market. That’s when I took up tutoring, and eventually teaching, and fell in love with it.
I specifically enjoyed teaching math because I noticed early on that so many students have a uniquely unhealthy relationship with it. There is this widespread misconception that certain people are just born “math people” and others are not. It’s a harmful myth that needs debunking. So from the very start, I wanted to expand the notion of “who” does math and computer science; to show that they really are for everyone!
Because so many students experience math as a threatening space, I ensured my classroom was warm, inviting and truly affirming for all of my students. We discussed current events and explored careers in tech, because I wanted my students to know that what they were learning really mattered. Fostering students’ passions, building a classroom community, and puzzling over how to break down complex concepts – it’s all really meaningful work that I love.
Ultimately, I decided to transition into a career in Data Science when I could no longer handle the working conditions of teaching during the pandemic. I needed a role that would sustain me financially and allow me to work remotely. I wanted to prove to myself that I could handle the rigors of a discipline that weaves together programming, linear algebra, calculus, statistics, and storytelling in a unique and exciting way.
In Summer 2021, I completed an immersive 12-week Data Science and Engineering bootcamp at Metis, where I built real-world projects and honed my skills in data wrangling, statistical modeling, and machine learning techniques. I knew I was in the right place because I was having so much fun! More importantly, I see Data Science as a career of the future. If I could learn it, do it, and teach it, then I could expand my reach as an educator outside of the K-12 system.
What motivated you to join Multiverse as a Data Coach?
I believe in Multiverse’s mission to create a diverse group of future leaders. As a K-12 educator, I was immensely frustrated with the gaps between our current education system and where we need to be to prepare ALL students to thrive in this digitally-driven era.
For example, only 51% of high schools in the US offer computer science courses, and that number drops further for majority-Black and Brown schools. In college, 45% of women who begin as STEM majors will exit the field before they graduate due to a number of factors, including lack of representation and gender bias. (Source)
I call this phenomenon the “leaky STEM pipeline”, as we see this pattern of declining diversity and participation continue from K-12 to college and the workplace. As a society, we have an obligation to fix this broken system.
I see Multiverse’s apprenticeship model as a much-needed alternative to college, which continues to grapple with issues of access, affordability and diversity.
If we want to truly prepare people for the careers of the future, we need to think outside the box – and we are doing that at Multiverse. Every day, I am energized by the work we are doing to change lives and move the needle on issues related to equity and the future of education. The best part is, I get to combine my passions for computer science, mathematics, teaching, and coaching all in one.
How has being a Coach been similar to classroom teaching? How has it been different?
The most obvious similarities are the teaching and pedagogical elements. We want to build robust lessons with scaffolds, differentiation, and checks for understanding. We also want to inspire our apprentices to be their best selves, while cultivating relationships and building a sense of community within each cohort.
What sets this role apart from classroom teaching is that you are working with adult learners. Our apprentices are navigating career transitions and many are working parents with tremendous responsibilities. The stakes are high! You have this window of opportunity to make a really meaningful impact on their lives as they enter a new career or upskill, so the energy and sense of transformation is even more palpable.
As coaches, we focus heavily on 1:1 coaching and durable skills training. I enjoy watching my apprentices build skills like goal-setting, time management, and emotional resilience, alongside their technical skill development. I was always curious about this aspect of character-building as a teacher but never had the time or energy to fully dive into it. I love that it’s a huge part of my job now.
I also enjoy the autonomy I have as a coach. I am first and foremost responsible for my cohorts, but I also have the freedom to collaborate with colleagues, iterate creatively on our programs, and contribute to the overall business.
What advice would you give to someone who is considering a career change into Coaching?
My first piece of advice is to take self-inventory. Why do you want to become a Coach? For me, coaching at Multiverse allows me to have the freedom that I didn’t have as a teacher while maintaining my connection to learners and advancing equity in education. Knowing your why will help you to stay inspired, and that energy will translate into your relationships with your apprentices.
Secondly – and this will sound funny – consider getting yourself a coach! Stay a learner in your discipline and never stop evolving.
This is really rewarding and important work. Good luck!
If you’re thinking, “ok where do I sign up?” then check out our open roles here. We have multiple pathways into Data Coaching at Multiverse. We’ve got coaches like Elizabeth, who have bootcamp or industry experience and coach our Data Fellowship program. But we also have a Data Literacy program that’s ideal for former STEM teachers, like our coach David. We offer extended training for teachers who need to further develop the technical skills required for one of these roles. So apply today and talk to one of our team about your future as a Multiverse Coach.