Advitya Gemawat: Unparalleled opportunities and exposure
An aspiring Data Scientist, I am a Data Science major at UC San Diego with anticipated graduation in 2021. I came to UC San Diego as a Structural Engineering major and came across the Data Science major during the summer before starting college. Apart from taking the recommended classes for deciding the major, I took several online courses from DataCamp related to Python, R and SQL for Data Science and did an online project which sparked my interest in the field and work. Speaking with a variety of upperclassmen, college advisors and recruiters about Data Science also got my interest into the major even further and soon I could see myself working, collaborating and contributing in the field of Analytics.
In the winter quarter of my freshman year, I joined a start-up called ‘Metrim Data’ (under a start-up generator called AlchemyX) with a Data Scientist role. With our mission to make the web information more understandable, I had been involved with a variety of projects from finding trends in the #dillydilly movement and detecting complaints and ‘controversy’ in statements to developing functioning chatbots and working with language models for a specialized Web Analytics platform.
With Metrim, I got the opportunity to interact, collaborate and learn with a closely-knit community of highly motivated individuals. I personally believe that working in a start-up environment is one of the most enriching things to start out with, because there’s a great deal of technical and soft skills that can be learnt with the same. Furthermore, joining Metrim was the first technical opportunity I got, which helped me in getting further Data Science oriented opportunities, making it one of the best decisions I made in college!
Intern roles at Fidelity International & PwC
In the 2 summers after my freshman and sophomore years, I worked with Fidelity International and PwC as a Data Scientist Intern. From developing novel tools to parse and understand U.S. Companies’ filings to making a Chatbot supplying tailored business and investment information as part of a $200,000 proposal, I was involved in spearheading the construction of systems and pipelines that intensively involved Web Scraping, Information Retrieval, NLP techniques and Multi-Class Text Classification to leverage the power of Data Science and engineer ‘smarter’ products. I also got the opportunity to give a Data Science Talk in front of the Analytics team at Fidelity, talking about my experiences here at UC San Diego and my perspectives on Data Science as a rapidly emerging field.
Interning with leaders in the Financial and Consulting domains allowed me to develop a massive amount of varied skill sets and approach complex projects with high stakes and multiple requirements in a systematic fashion, where I developed the confidence to lead entire Analytics and pipeline engineering processes and ensure that all the systems talk to each other in the whole process.
Research undertakings at ADA & MESL Labs
As a Research Assistant at the Advanced Data Analytics (ADA) Lab, I have been involved in expanding the project ‘Vista’ into an end-to-end declarative transfer learning system for multimodal analytics with deep neural networks. This experience has not only provided me with a unique flavor in systems-oriented research for multimodal analytics workloads alongside getting research experience, but also provided me with skills related to computer networking and running and automating various portions of such workloads as I go on to pursue more challenging problems within the project. The proposal for expanding Vista’s current state into a versatile system with its design decisions (i.e. Declarativity to simplify specification, Execution Optimization to reduce runtimes, and Memory Management and Configuration Optimization to avoid crashes) has also made me the recipient of the HDSI Undergraduate Scholarship.
As a Research Scholar in the Undergraduate Research Program hosted by the Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) and sponsored by Mentor, A Siemens Business, I am also privileged with the opportunity to work in the Microelectronic Embedded Systems Laboratory (MESL) where I am involved in building a search engine system to enable more flexible and effective retrieval of building data as part of project ‘CONIX’.
On Data Science & UC San Diego
I strongly believe that the beauty of a *phenomenon* like Data Science is that people are doing a basic form of it without even knowing it, as its applications are endless. Even as a Structural Engineering major while taking its first class, I had labs every week where we performed experiments in teams and one of my primary responsibilities was the collect the generated data and use excel for (what I know now) happens to be basic forms of Data Cleaning, Manipulation and Visualization.
As an undergraduate Data Science major with an Analytics-focused profile, I have been reached out and shortlisted by companies for Intern positions even when those job roles would tend to have policies to only consider upperclassmen / higher degree holders. Apart from the major’s robust and specialized coursework that has helped me a lot, the hands-on learning opportunities along with a wide range of career and professional events on-campus made this all the more possible. Such resources also helped me secure a Masters-level Data Scientist Intern role at Hewlett-Packard (HP Inc.) in their Global Pricing Strategy and Analytics Team (Chief Commercial Office Organization).
As an international student from India, I was 17 years old when I went 10,000 miles away from pretty much everyone I ever knew in my life to a diametrically opposite end of the Earth for the first time when I arrived at UC San Diego. It wasn’t the easiest decision, but it was definitely worth the unparalleled opportunities and exposure I have had here in this college!
Rejections and Failures
I specifically decided to include this section as I believe this is an essential part of the process that doesn’t always get the needed attention. In one way or another, I still happen to face rejections on a fairly regular basis. It’s easy to enjoy success, but true character is often revealed in times of adversity, and one’s way of dealing and learning from failures is a stepping stone to success.
I personally believe this video (by a UCSD Alum!) highlights such points very eloquently, and this link highlights some pretty inspirational stories. It’s important to note that we’re not alone in trying to tap into a field that prefers higher degree holders, and continued effort and hardwork will ultimately get us what we want.
Advice for new Data Science majors
Start getting involved in projects, research, internships etc as early as possible, network with alumni and professionals to get interviews for target positions, get used to rejections and embrace them as a part of the learning process, never give up on your efforts and always seek to learn more!
If you have an opportunity for me, an idea to pitch, wish to ask me more about my experiences or even just want to grab coffee and chat, feel free to get in touch!