After many years when I caught up with my college friend, we realised how our journeys had become different. He was not the boy anymore who used to be extremely focused and ambitious back in college. May be people change with situation and priorities and that is where I have made a difference.
We got involved in a serious conversation that:
My Friend: “Girl, How did you manage to become a Data Scientist?”
Me, stirring my tea, I replied: “Well that’s a long story, but lets say I never let go off my ambition.”
Friend: “Seems an interesting journey. I would like to know more.”
Me: “Alright. But tell me something, how come you’re working in the same company and profile for 8yrs?”
Friend: “Well, I guess I was ambitious but I never had the guts to move out of my comfort zone, take the risk and the effort to learn more. Now it’s too late.”
Me: “Do you think my journey was easy? It was extremely difficult. You’re still working in an IT company, I was completely away from technology for 4 yrs. A meaningless job will only fetch you money. Try to turn the wheel and re-start once again.”
Friend: “In that case tell me how did you manage to bag this job?”
Me, ending my tea: “All started on a day when I was having a similar kind of conversation with 5 other friends working in JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Microsoft, Bosch and RedHat. I couldn’t participate much and I felt left out. I didn’t even speak much and listened more thinking that I’m the frog in a well who was limited by the size and couldn’t discuss about the ocean due to lack of knowledge. What struck me was, I grew up with them. I was equally good in studies may be even better then why couldn’t I reach where they were. They were soaring high, visiting several places in the world, handling international clients, becoming decision makers — people like them run the world. That’s when I decided it’s never too late and I should turn the wheel NOW!
Friend: “But about your responsibilities? Your family? Your mother?”
Me: “Well, I thought of a plan. I understood if my mother stayed busy, she would worry less about me and that way she would value my feelings too. Following this, I converted my garage into a shop for her and helped her run it initially. Once she got the taste of financial independence, she too supported my decision of leaving a monotonous govt. job to pursue my passion.
Friend: “Awesome! That’s the perfect way to empower a girl and you started it from your home. Kudos to you!”
Me: “Thank you! Well, after few days, I moved out from my home town to Bangalore — Silicon Valley of India. Did a lot of research to understand how to start and took the following steps:
- I took up a small paid course(< 35k) on Data Science along with free courses like Andrew Ng in Coursera and Udemy. If you ask me today, I would suggest not to pay a single penny. Internet has everything and most of it is free, consume it.
- I revised on two things before starting — Mathematics (Probability & Calculus) and Python Programming
- Next, I dived deeper in each flow of the Data Science journey — Probability & Hypothesis Testing → Data Cleaning → Exploratory Data Analysis → Data Visualization → Machine Learning Models.
My Friend: “But just by studying hard, you got this job in Data Science?”
Me: “Absolutely not.
- Firstly, as I got an idea of the flow I started doing projects on Kaggle and uploaded them in GitHub. I started open source contributions through Google followed by several others.
- Secondly, I started attending conferences to increase my network. Attended few workshops to get an idea on how real world problems work.
- Thirdly, practiced more SQL queries and took several courses to get acquainted with different cloud based tools used by companies. Eg: Being Google Cloud Data Engineer certified means I’m able to build data-driven solutions and deploy scalable machine learning models using Google Cloud Platform.
- Along with this preparation, I kept searching for jobs. I was quite aware of the fact that it would become difficult for me to bag a job in this profile since I didn’t have relevant experience.
Friend: “Any special preparation while job hunting?”
Me: “I made some smart moves.
- Opened a profile in AngelList and applied for junior roles and entry-level positions in Startups.
- Searched those companies in Twitter and tried contacting them directly. Showcased my pet projects.
- I knew job portals were dead ends; yet created profiles in some of them.
- Extended my connections through LinkedIn. I had sent several personalised messages to HRs for different openings mentioned in their profiles. I would also suggest, if possible scrape some Twitter data of that company, analyse and come up with some insights while submitting your application to stand out amongst others and increase your chance of getting selected in the first round from a pool of thousands of candidates.
- Lastly, I also asked my friends to refer me in their companies.
Friend: “Interesting! Truly you have gone that extra mile. You totally deserve to be here today. Your journey provided me immense motivation. Within such a short span, one and half years to be precise, you’re earning more than several people who are working in this industry for past 4–5yrs.”
Me: “But my friend, the most important part is I’m happy and contended with this job. I don’t get Monday Blues as such. Not to forget, I don’t stop upskilling myself, that’s the best part. Whenever I feel my work has become monotonous, I do 2 things:
- Convey the same to my reporting manager. If I’m an important resource, I try to complete as soon as possible and dive in learning other tools
- If I feel the project is not enhancing my current capabilities, I start preparations to change my company.
Friend: “Great that you’ve got such clarity of thoughts. Being smart, ambitious and hard working have changed you and will help you go long way in your life. Trust me today I will go back home and give some serious thoughts on changing my profile in my company. I will talk to my manager soon on this. I have become extremely stagnant in this support role.”
Me: “Good to hear that. Don’t get laid back thinking what will happen in future. Be the driver and turn the wheels. However the road will be, the adventure will be all yours.”
Friend: “Yeap! You’re right. What’s your next plan?”
Me: “Two things — Entrepreneurship by implementing AI in the field Health Sector and preparing for DS interviews in companies like TESLA, SpaceX, Google, Netflix, Spotify. But when I will meet you next time, I want to see your older version who used to be brimming with confidence and ambition.”
Friend: “Sure! Can promise you on that!”