Vananh's journey from sociocultural anthropology to scrum master proves that your career can take you to interesting and, sometimes, unexpected places.
After earning a bachelor's degree in international relations and sociocultural anthropology, Vananh worked at a nonprofit advocating for legal and civil rights of the Asian-American community in the Washington metropolitan area. She then joined an international human rights NGO, living and working abroad to combat human trafficking in places such as Malaysia and Taiwan before returning to Virginia and joining Freddie Mac's IT division as an administrative coordinator.
Although she didn't have a degree in IT, the executive she supported encouraged her to explore other IT positions. Her excellent analytical, problem-solving, communication, and organizational skills allowed her to move to the IT systems analyst role that she holds today.
"I learned a lot by talking to and shadowing people on tasks that I wasn't familiar with," Vananh says. "They helped me learn the skills I needed to build my confidence. I think if you really put your mind into something, you can do almost anything."
Vananh also took advantage of Freddie Mac University courses in Agile and Enterprise Development Methodology to learn how to translate business requirements into system specifications.
"Scrum master" is the latest addition to her title. In this role, she's her Agile team's advocate – communicating with other business areas, getting resources for the team, and facilitating tasks. Vananh knows it's also essential to keep a sense of fun and camaraderie. So she plans team-building events now and then. These gatherings, she says, "allow the team a moment to breathe and relax, to talk, bond, and better understand one another."