I believe the most important traits of a Data Scientist are: collaboration, resilience, and creativity.
Ever since high school, I spent a lot of my free time digging through material online, learning programming and machine learning skills through sites like EdX, Coursera, and Udacity. Although skills are important, experience through projects and internships/work is essential to the growth of a data scientist.
After learning many of the technical skills, I developed my own projects on Kaggle, where there is a strong community of data scientists with the same passions and curiosity as me. With many datasets to choose from, I participated in different competitions and worked on my own projects. Networking with others and collaborating are made easy, so I entered competitions with teammates. Collaboration with others brings different perspectives to the same problem, which is important for solving large tasks and producing accurate results. Here’s my Kaggle profile, let me know if you want to collaborate! (kaggle.com/samsonqian)
Data science is not about creating algorithm black boxes and feeding data through them expecting to get fruitful results. It requires creativity, as every problem is unique and requires different approaches and techniques. Data has the power to solve problems that seemed to be impossible before. However, creative data-driven approaches must be made to solve different tasks at hand. The data must be completely understood and explored before starting any problem. Creativity comes into play in processes such as feature engineering, exploratory data analysis, and creating machine learning models. How you prepare your data and models are crucial to your results.
I’m interested in data-driven business decisions, as opposed to intuition. I worked for TribioScience that collected customer data on an ecommerce platform. However, I ran into frequent data science problems like processing and preparing unstructured data, or optimizing models. Resilience and dedication are important because every data scientist will inevitably run into a wall at some point. Learning to power through and find ways to resolve problems are skills that will benefit any career. I was faced with many more problems, but collaborating with others, using my creativity, and being resilient allowed me to overcome them.
UCSD’s DSC Program and Students
Be Proactive/Get involved:
Probably the most important advice for any student is to be proactive and take initiative. Go meet new students and faculty members; it can be through a particular networking event, or even cold emailing them (most people are friendly and would love to get to know you). Take advantage of the opportunities that HDSI offers throughout the year by reading the weekly newsletters.
I recommend joining and exploring student organizations. I’ve been a part of UIS (Undergraduate Investment Society), UES (Undergraduate Economics Society), and DS3 (Data Science Student Society) and have met many others who share the same interests and goals as me. Networking with others and getting actively involved in the community opens up new opportunities, and I encourage anyone to come to our events!
Lastly, it’s always better to be too early than too late. If you’re struggling in a class, seek help early in the quarter from TAs, tutoring programs like OASIS, or the professor. Connect with DSC advising early to make a plan and learn about opportunities.
Find a domain of interest:
I believe data science can be applied to almost anything. It is important to find an area you’re interested in applying data science to, like economics, biology, or business. Double major/minor, take courses, or join a student organization in that particular field to see if you’re passionate about it.
I am proud to be a part of UCSD’s Data Science program, and am excited about the development of the curriculum and opportunities for future students. I am also excited to see the advancement of Data Science in our society, as we enter a data-driven age. Please reach out to me if you want to talk about anything!
Connect with me on LinkedIn! linkedin.com/in/samsonq/