Dreams of Data Science (Holberton School Application)

So a little about me before we start. I’m currently in the brand protection field. Most people don’t know what that means. In short it means I’m looking for illicit products whether that be taking down counterfeit listings on eBay, Alibaba, Amazon, etc. or securing the supply chain and tracing grey market goods. It gives a sense of pride knowing that you’re taking counterfeit pharmaceuticals or knockoff makeup that most certainly doesn’t meet FDA standards off the market. People have gotten sick, had allergic reactions, and even died from counterfeit products that were made to benefit off of the reputation of a manufacturer and make a quick buck.

At my previous jobs I was making web scrapers to go through thousands (sometimes millions) of listings online to find counterfeits. It’s quite fun being able to draw lines in big datasets sometimes. For instance, seeing roughly where a seller was located based off of quantitative data. This is why I initially started dreaming of data science. I remember the first time I made a map of the world based on listings for prescription drugs on a certain company. The map was dotted with points showing where they were located, a link to the listing, and what drug they were selling. Over time you could map the global problem of counterfeiting, create trend reports, and draw conclusions based on those results. However, this ends up being a big cat and mouse chase with very little repercussion. Many of these sellers are located in foreign countries and their governments do little. Getting online accounts is only a temporary annoyance. Even domestically it’s not worth the effort and paperwork most of the time. If someone did get arrested it was like fighting a hydra. Another head popped up in its place.

This is why I’m applying to go to Holberton. Instead of chopping another head off of a hydra I’d love to be able to make something that’d help a broader audience. While what I stated might have been impressive it certainly wasn’t from a coding perspective. I used off the shelf programs for web scraping and did a lot of filtering through Google Sheets or Excel. There was very little coding involved. This caused many a headache as there were always ways I knew I could do the job better despite automating as much as I could, even to the point of using keyboard/mouse macros in some instances. This is why I’d like to gain the knowledge to make my own software and I would like to focus this energy toward a software engineering career.

What really drew me to Holberton as opposed to other schools was the style of teaching. Instead of learning theory in a classroom environment you’re coding among your peers. No one is expected to know how to code right out of the gate. You learn together. This type of environment is where I thrive. “Learn by doing” is the motto of my university. I can proudly say a lot of the knowledge outside of my major that I’ve gained was learning through others. For example, in Los Angeles there are many makerspaces that embrace this concept. While none of them offer a full-on education in a specific field, it’s a great starting point. It’s where I learned the basics of soldering and electronics. This is where I’m hoping to transition to a place where I can learn the basics of coding. I’ve watched plenty of Python tutorials and have a basic understanding but there’s no way I could, for instance, create any part of Reddit. It’s time I learn by doing.

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