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Mystory: I became a Data Scientist after 8 years working as a Software Test Engineer

Background

I am Bindhya Rajendran, an Electronics and Communication Engineer, with more than 8 years of experience in Quality assurance and an aspiring Analytics professional. I started my career as a Software Test Engineer where my primary role involved embedded system software testing, which further involved working with real-time data from sensors and other devices like robot arms/chemical deposition chambers etc., primarily used in the manufacturing of equipments for a semi-conductor. All this highly interested me and I was happy on being associated closely with a field related to my study.

Unfortunately or fortunately, I had to move to Hyderabad due to some personal reason and there I got an opportunity to work with ADP, a leading HCM (Human capital management) solution provider where I was exposed to web based software solutions.

Starting 2016, I joined Great Lakes PGP-BABI course and 3 months into the course; I took this internship offered by a predictive care start-up Touchkin. The offered project involved developing a model based on a passive mobile data collected during the pilot study. This gave me a great opportunity to apply my newly acquired skills to use and actually get hands on experience.

Earlier this month, I have taken up a new role of data analytics specialist at BOSCH Engineering and Business solution Pvt. Ltd for the smart cities global solutions project which comprises of Intelligent Traffic management, Intelligent Parking Solutions and Intelligent Traffic solution modules.

I followed Analytics Vidhya through this transition and it was very helpful to learn from other professionals. Hence, I thought that sharing my story here might help other people like me in similar situation.

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Discovering Analytics

It was during my tenure with ADP where analytics solutions were provided as part of the Talent module (HR analytics) offering.  I got attracted to this emerging and attractive field of analytics and the vast opportunity it offered to candidates who work with data day in and out.

I realized the true strength of data analytics which could be used to predict what will happen in future using various trends. The discovery of unknown insights that has been lying hidden in the data excited me. In addition to that, the experience of undergoing my capstone project during Great Lakes’ based on social sensing convinced me further for this domain.

The Start of my Analytics Journey

As I got more curious about the field, I started looking out for the skills required and the different courses offered. It was in one such general talk with my Product Owner who himself is an alumnus of Great Lakes suggested me to take a look at the offerings. As I went through the course and review across board I found that the course offered exactly all the aspects I was looking out for . This included some domain and base courses, advanced analytics, data mining, predictive modeling and also tool exposure in a balanced format.

Besides PGP-BABI course work, I was also looking for various opportunities that could help me enhance my analytics learning and keep me updated about the current trends. With the help of PGP-BABI lecturer Mr. Uma Shankar Sir, I also got an opportunity to participate in the GOMC – Google online Marketing Challenge (2016). We did a successful Adword campaign for an online partner business wherein the focus was basically on Brand building strategy with the use of Google analytics. Our team submission was rated ‘GOOD’.

I also participated in the 3 days long  “Deep learning Conference and workshop ” held by Fifth Elephant and acquired insights on emerging trends in deep learning Analytics domains and NLP and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Overcoming the initial skepticism

The thing I was most confused about was definitely the ‘domain’ I should get into. As I was basically from the software testing industry for almost 8 years, I had no idea about areas like finance, BFSI, Retail, Operations or Marketing domains.  Initially, I was concerned about how would I transit with such a big learning gap. However, soon I discovered that I could fit well into emerging domains like IOT and HR analytics. Analytics is definitely predominant in few industries but in current times it’s becoming an eminent part of emerging fields like health, human resource management, pharma, IOT and other smart solutions as well.

Challenges Faced During Transition

Some non-programmers might face difficulty with some of the tools which are more coder friendly, but it’s just a matter of some practice to overcome that. Also, there are varieties of tools in the industry that can help a non-programmer cope with analytics. Focusing on concepts rather than tools is also very important as the number of new tools coming into the industry is increasing day by day.

Job Hunting

I didn’t go for searching for jobs directly. We had a chance of interacting with Kunal (Founder of Analytics Vidhya) in one of the industry sessions and he advised to apply for internships. So I applied for Internships through Internshala portal.

I got 2 offers; I chose to go with Touchkin as it was related more to my area of interest and the social cause really appealed to my personal sense of satisfaction. My current offer with BOSCH Engineering and Business solution was based on my application on their portal a month or two back when my internship was almost completing and I started looking for a permanent position.

Getting through the Interviews

I had one telephonic round, 1 Skype, 2 face to face technical interviews and finally the HR round.

The telephonic round was very generic scenario based and a little about the current role.

Skype round was in more details about models worked on and some generic performance and KPI metrics for machine learning Techniques.

F2F technical round 1 was deep dive into each model that I have worked on its approach taken, issues and challenges faced along with inference derived from each model.

F2F technical round 2 was an iterative session with the senior management focused on scenario based on the current project that I am being hired for and in detail discussion of the roles and responsibilities of the new role offered.

HR round was focused on my personal interests, motivation and family background.

Great Lakes’ ‘PGP-BABI’ experience

The faculty at Great Lakes is exceptional with very unique blend of industry as well as academic experience, which is an advantage for students like me with an engineering background. The course gets really exciting after the second residency until then it’s basically the foundation or domain insights. I  feel it was a worth career move to take up PGP-BABI with Great Lakes while having 8 years of industry work experience in hand. Thanks to the Great faculty at Great Lakes who made my experience and learning grow to a level I never imagined of.

Advice to aspiring analytics professionals

  • “Dream big, start small” was a motto I had in mind when I prepared myself for this career transition. The task might look daunting to start with, but if we focus on one lesson at a time, the journey is much easier.
  • Play to your strengths – I think each one of us has his or her unique strengths. We should play by them to find out the areas we enjoy. This would help you in identifying the right transition path.
  •  Being focused and true dedication to oneself is all that matters. You would never know what each opportunity has in hand and Analytics domain is one such huge opportunity that could change the world we live in for the better.
  •  You may need to take some risks. Leaving a well paid job for an internship wasn’t a comfortable change. But I knew it would be a short term impact. So, if you come across an opportunity which gives you right experience, grab it with both the hands!

This story was published in AVM Stories Section.

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