From Electronics and Communications Engineering To Data Science
In this article, I am not giving advice. I just talk about my experience towards data science and the early process which was not so early but was somehow fast. I started my interest in the field back in January 2018 right at the beginning of my second semester at the final year of Electronics and Communications Engineering (ECE) at Ain Shams University. The major starts at the junior year and it is, acknowledged by many TAs and professors, the hardest major in the Electrical Engineering department or even among the entire majors in the engineering college of Ain Shams.
In fall 2018, I started to think about creating more opportunities beyond communications engineering, because the opportunities are very low especially to my interest which was optics. My interest to DS increased due to my personality type which is analytical which enjoys investigating ideas and analyzing data, and also because I love mathematics and computer science. I began learning online courses by asking a lot of data scientists who were very helpful to me and others. Many did NOT respond, but I didn’t care. I was making sure that this learning is applicable to some real projects. That’s why I was very interested in finding practical learning resources.
Meanwhile, my graduation project was into optics [Optical Gas Analyzer for IoT Applications] and one of the tasks was to make predictions on the gas concentration for the spectra coming from the prism-awarded spectrometer (neospectra). I used PCR (Principal Component Regression, a machine learning algorithm) which was my first real experience to apply machine learning algorithm on real data. [the prediction results on my linkedin profile if you’re interested]
My interest started to further increase, so I started applying to almost every company and startup I know in Egypt for internships and junior positions in DS and ML. After almost 50 applications, I got a call from the HR informing me that my CV is accepted as a data scientist intern and would get the technical test on email. The next day, I received an email that they were impressed of my work and would like to get to the interview.
I’m now intern learning day by day and enjoying the experience by doing real tasks and asking questions to my mentor and the other senior software engineers. I believe it was very hard to get this internship, because I remember I was continuously learning all day long for almost three months during the study for my engineering classes. Finished seven courses in data science, machine learning, and a little of deep learning. Also, finished a textbook in data mining. The most important part was to be strong in basics, so I was learning basic concepts in software engineering and statistics by teaching it. I also tried to get my hands dirty and do all the programming assignments on my own; That’s why I was posting my certificates regularly on Linkedin so that this gives some credentials that I finished the assignments which are mostly challenging.
At the end of the day, transferring from ECE to DS was not just about finishing some courses and books; It was more about persistence and being able to enjoy what I was doing. I hesitated a lot to write this article but the main reason I got into it is because people often look at the final result as if it was easy for the achievers to get to their dreams while behind the scene is where all the real hard work is done.