Upon completing her Master’s Degree in International Business and Management at Liverpool John Moores University, the United Kingdom (UK), Ananda Norris is eager to quench her thirst for knowledge in a male-dominated field, namely Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning through another Master’s Degree programme at the same university. In this article, Ananda shares her journey in pursuing her second master’s in the UK.
Making decisions is not always easy. As a woman in the 21st century, we often have to consider which options are really for us. Deciding to continue studying is definitely not for everyone considering it is a measured decision with emotional, physical, and financial aspects that could impact your whole life. Indeed, significant changes could also occur in your life if you continue without further study. There is no right or wrong answer. The decisions could result in obtaining a great job, making the ‘right’ connections with the ‘right’ people, or making your own opportunities, meeting your loved one, and having a beautiful family. All we can do is pray and hope for the best and trust the process; God has made everything beautiful in its time.
Do we have to follow the path of what people call successful such as becoming a doctor, lawyer, or banker? One of the reasons I took my first Master’s in International Business and Management at Liverpool John Moores University (after finishing my Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from Trisakti University) is that it appeared to be a great opportunity to learn advanced business methodology in a global industry. Was it worth the investment? It definitely was. After graduating with my Master’s Degree, I began working at Lippo Group as a Personal Assistant and was promoted within one year to a managerial role for Sky Parking. It was such a great experience working in Indonesia.
Attaining this degree gave me a wide opportunity to work abroad, even when based in the UK. I got the opportunity to work with people from many countries. As a student, I worked in bars and restaurants, and it was such a fun experience. As my career progressed, I also had the opportunity to work with Liverpool Football Club (LFC) as Business Support Manager for LFC’s apprentices training management programme. It was such a brilliant experience in a very different way.
Working in the UK made me realise that there are very different work ethics and cultures. The ability to adapt to new environments is always the key to survival. Having hobbies, for example, will definitely help you survive life in the UK. In my case, it was also profitable as my hobby is photography and videography. I was scouted by agencies, but what I enjoy the most is being a Female Sport Photographer, which is quite rare and allows me to travel the whole country from stadium to stadium (when there are live sports events available) and be paid for it. I also enjoy running my own business in the UK, even with the increased regulations, which are stricter than in Indonesia. This stringent level of regulation brings a higher level of bureaucracy, but, ultimately, this is a benefit to protect both the customer and business owner. I was awarded a five-star rating (excellent) for my food business, “Asian Home,” from the Food Standards Agency.
As we all know, the pandemic and associated lockdowns started in March 2020. The world became more closed off, and businesses were shut; creating a difficult period of uncertainty for most people. It was mentally and physically draining, and it still is. Working and studying from home has become a normality. I was actually planning to see my parents, whom I had not seen for a year, but the flights were cancelled due to the lockdown. Many people undertook various activities at home during the pandemic, for example, cooking, baking, painting, developing content for social media such as TikTok or Instagram. For me, it was study and learning. I utilised online programmes and obtained the associated certificates of learning, and I started to think: why not take another degree?
I never believed I would apply to complete a second Master’s Degree in my life, but it happened. I was accepted into the Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning programme at Liverpool John Moores University. As the only female in the class, I was initially concerned, but I have received nothing but support from lecturers and the university. I have now completed my second semester and will move on to my dissertation soon. The lecturers have been incredibly helpful, knowing that I come from a different industry. I have been exposed to and learned some amazing material such as image detection, artificial neural networks, advanced deep learning. I foresee so many opportunities for a start-up company in the future. I am discussing my research project with KBRI (Indonesian Embassy), and hopefully, my research related to digital policies using Natural Language Processing could prove useful in the future. The main thing I want from this degree, as a woman, is to push my boundaries and open wider opportunities in what people think is a male dominant environment. The stereotype is slowly fading; it is actually quite normal for women to have a decision-making role in the computer science industry.
I believe that mental support from family is still very important, especially when you underestimate yourself based on judgement from others. I try to remain focused on my end goals, and whatever happens, I always tell myself that to create the life I can’t wait to wake up to, I must create it. The most reliable way to predict the future is to make it happen. Regardless of my gender, nationality, or skin colour, I hope to inspire some souls who are trying to make their own path, those who are still undecided to make decisions, to choose you, and whatever is best for you. Be grateful for all you have and what you have been given, such as your talents, and make them useful. Be kind and considerate wherever you go and create connections along the way. It is impossible to please everyone, so you might as well choose yourself and push yourself as you are more capable than you will ever believe. William Arthur Ward says, “If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. If you can dream it, you can become it!”
Special thanks to my husband Phil, Papa & Mama, and my lecturers Rubem Pereira, Carl Charmers, and Paul Fergus for helping me build my dreams. And my dog Clyde for always living in the moment.
If you are a woman seeking a scholarship to continue study in STEM in the UK, the British Council Scholarship for Women in STEM (WIS) provides a full package scholarship support including special allowance for children and pre-sessional English course. Don’t miss out on the opportunity by keeping update to scholarship opportunities from the British Council.
All photos are provided by the author