Why DSG. Why not something else.
Experience is one thing that you can’t get for nothing.
People often doubt the reason I give when they ask me “Why did you start the Data Science Group in IITR?”.
Personal motive. NO.
Free time. Definitely NO.
It’s all about spreading what you have for the greater good of the people near you. This post covers my journey through competitive coding, and ends with a DSG team of 27!
Programming and Algorithms Group, SDSLabs
You enter first year of college. You have no idea which group to join.
You see a notice which reads “Aptitude Test for 1st yearites”. You go because you have all the time in the world. You do surprisingly good. You become part of a legendary family.
This is where I was introduced to the field of Software and IT. I toiled hours on SPOJ, CodeChef and Codeforces. I dedicated my entire freshman year and a good part of the sophomore year to “Competitive Coding”. I was involved in problem-setting teams of some of the biggest coding competitions like Insomnia.
I even qualified for the ACM-ICPC Regionals in my junior year, but all this while, there was a voice inside my which said “Not this. Something else.”
After devoting two full years, it was tough for me to think beyond this but in the end, it’s all worth it!
Data Science Intern - Summer 2015
As everybody does or at least thinks once in his college life, I also thought of applying for the much-coveted foreign internship. There’s no procedure or portal. You gotta impress the American/British/German professor sitting in his cubicle with just an email from Roorkee. I tried, I failed.
Looking for internship, this is where you can improve. Start early. It never backfires. As I was late and desperate, I only asked for a technical role. I applied on May 6th, and luckily, got a positive response by May 12th and was on my way to Pune on 14th. But, this part of my journey is called Luck. Don’t leave too much on it.
On my first day in office, I met one of the best entrepreneur I have seen. Sushil Choudhari, founder of Scandid welcomed me by saying “You are the first member of our Data team.”
This is the tough part of my fight as I had no idea of this field. I struggled for hours, learning how the data is stored, how it can be transferred for analysis, and developed models which could deliver tangible insights to the Marketing and Sales team.
I got introduced to SQL. I had slight knowledge of Python. These two did wonders for me at that time. For everything else, Larry Page and Sergey Brin are there.
Learn at least one language by the end of your sophomore year.
I completed three projects there, and gave rise to my Data Science career.
Software Development Intern - Summer 2016
Now, I had done my internship as a Data Scientist. But, was a part of PAG.
When companies started pouring in 5th semester and owing to my background as an Industrial engineer, I had limited opportunities.
If it is stupid but it works, it isn’t stupid.
My faith in competitive coding was greater than my effort in Data Science internship. I applied for Flipkart. Was given the offer as a SDE.
But, by this time, I had stopped solving algorithmic problems. I had started reading about the buzz word “Machine Learning”. I even undertook a project in CSE department on Data Mining techniques. Trust me, if you have no clue, work on a research project. It clears stuff out for you!
I even thought of ditching Flipkart for Data Science, but, last try. Last try!
Thankfully, I was given a project on Data Visualisation which involved little development, but more analytics.
I worked on BigData framework Hadoop which involved fetching data from HBase, importing in SQL, and visualising in Caravel. It was a great learning experience for me. FK gave a proper blend of Startup culture and corporate life.
Data Science was the thing for me. Not development!
Data Science Group, SDSLabs
After my stint at Flipkart, it was time for supposedly, the toughest time in College life. #4'1
But, I had different plans. Very different.
I had met some seniors back in 6th semester, where we had ridiculed Roorkee for a defunct culture of Data Science. But, we stoop up for it. We initiated an informal Data Science community. We used to meet for a hour or two every 3 days and work on real-life data, and get our hands dirty with practicality, and not old theories.
They passed out, and I was alone in this fight. I could have very easily focussed on grabbing a glorious job offer, but I believed in giving back to the place which had given me so much.
“Service before self”. - DPSN’s Motto (High School)
My motivation for Data Science was far more than the effort involved in building such a huge student group. I met people from my year, and found some mind-blowing partners for the common motive. Then, we moved onto find interested and motivated juniors who wished to learn and contribute.
Inch-by-inch, play-by-play, we steadily carried ourselves to the goal of developing a culture of Data Science and Machine Learning in IIT Roorkee.
Being the boom in the market that DS is, there is no doubt on the future of this group. It is all about the first step. Everybody needs to take it. If unsure, at least try. Nothing is ever won without giving it a shot!
Choose the job. Don’t let it choose you.
Here, I should appreciate the enthusiasm and support that students of IITR have shown for Data Science. It is really overwhelming. The eagerness to learn and apply new concepts in the betterment of the society and to develop helpful products is just commendable.
Now, after all these efforts, we stand at a junction where we are being offered live projects to work upon and contribute. Also, we have managed to gather a team of 27 people. Real fight starts now!
From PAG to DSG, it’s been an absolutely splendid journey for me.
- Explore everything, but one at a time.
- Settle for the thing which gives you mental peace and happiness.
- If you don’t try, you deprive yourself of the slight opportunity you had of becoming an overnight success.
And, ❤ if this was a good read. Enjoy!