Data Science for All: My journey from Civil Engineering to Data Science.
There comes a time in life where everything falls right into its place like its meant to be, and it turns out to be the best decision you took so far!
My data science journey was somewhat unexpected and somehow proved to be a journey that has given me a new identity and a new perspective.
Hey, I am Arushika Tayal from IIT-BHU
Six months ago, I took this tough decision of stepping out of my comfort zone and pursuing Data Science. Ask me today and my answer will be: I could never be more proud of myself.
I am a civil engineering student. I have my life planned and sorted. I was to prepare and give UPSC exams and work in my sector.
However, something did not feel right. I always had the feeling that I had to do something more to explore myself and find something that did not seem like work. When you love what you do, you lose track of time. I wanted to experience that.
Technology had always fascinated me, But as I was a non-CSE/IT student, I had very little knowledge about it. That did not stop me from exploring more and more about technology. I was in awe after exploring the heights technology had reached and could achieve in the coming future.
I needed a push, a push to put me in momentum to achieve something I had been wanting for long but was unable to go through with it. Stepping out of your sector and pursuing something entirely new is a daunting experience. A conversation with a friend is what I needed to take that step and change my world around.
My friend had introduced me to some of the hot-topics and buzzwords of technology: Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Data Science, and I could no longer constrain my curiosity.
I researched and surfed about the same on the internet. In a while, my inquisitiveness knew no bounds.
I wanted to explore and find answers to everything. And that’s where it all started. A non-CSE/IT girl, entering the world of technology.
My journey has been great so far, although there have been many ups and downs throughout it. Not having formal education about programming and machine learning, Coping up with an entirely new field, all of this is intimidating, but I have had my way through it.
And I would love to help out individuals like me who want to explore that path.
It’s easy to feel yourself lose in this journey when everything is new and overwhelming. But let me tell you, once you are through with it, there is no better feeling.
I will list out a few key things I came across my journey that will help you find your way, just like I found mine.
Make sure your curiosity is well-fed with answers. All you need to get started in a new field is a speculative mindset. A mindset that questions everything and wants to find all answers: What is Data Science? What is ML? What is AI? How is everything connected? Once you have all the answers you need, you are ready to explore more by actually working on it.
2] Maths and Statistics
Although most of us hate Maths and Statistics, It is necessary to know that Data Science is dependent on it. To build a strong foundation, you need your basics clear. I started with linear algebra and then gradually moved to calculus. Make sure you are thorough with all concepts, then you are ready to take off!
Programming was a dreadful task of all. It was scary because:
a) I did not have a Computer Science background.
b) The time when I was exposed to programming was during college, and I despised it.
However, this time I felt I had all the time in the world and nothing to lose, so I had decided to do whatever it takes to get good at programming. I started learning Python. It was not easy to get used to the concepts, but I decided to stick to it. Once I was comfortable with Python (amateur), I moved to the steps which were necessary for the basic ML projects. The most fundamental steps in any ML project are Data quality analysis, Data cleaning and preparation, Data manipulation (sorting, filtering, aggregating and other functions), and Data visualization. It wasn’t easy to get a grip on these processes, but the practice was the key!
4] Machine Learning
Finally, the struggle to reach here cannot be put into words, especially when you are a beginner in programming! Machine learning was hard, a lot of it did not make sense to me, but with sheer brute-force, I slowly started understanding the concepts, things began getting simpler. Through it all, Google has always been my best friend. No matter how small my doubt is, google engine answers. (without judging)
5] Applying what you have learned.
Your learning and understanding are validated only when you apply it to practical problems. I’ve seen many people spending lots of time on gaining theoretical knowledge to an extent, that they no longer understand where its use is! Don not fall in this trap, steer clear of it, and make sure you start applying whatever little knowledge you have.
I undertook an interdisciplinary project encompassing my strong suits: Civil Engineering, ML, and AI. And completion of my first Data science project gave me a lot of confidence.
And you have thus formally entered Data Science World!
When I began my journey, I did not think I will love data science so much. I can say now the data science is designed for me. It is a profession I have always dreamt of.
I will not lie and say it was easy to get a grip on ML, but it proved to be for the best. There is still a lot to learn and explore in this un-ending field of technology, but if you are someone who dreams of entering this field, I would suggest you make that decision and turn your life around.