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Summer internships with The Data Lab: two MSc students share their experience

During the summer, two of The Data Lab MSc students spent their 3 month placements with us as Data Science interns, applying their newly gained academic experience to real world problems. They tell us a little about their journey to a career in data science and their experiences working with us. We’re delighted that they’ve both learned so much from their internships and have gone on to such great positions.

Nikolas Rados: MSc at University of Glasgow (Computing)

About a year ago I decided to do an MSc in Data Science and the research for the best program began. Scotland’s universities were along my first choices and when I got accepted to UoG, things could not get any better. The truth is that actually, they could. After my acceptance, I was informed that The Data Lab was offering me a scholarship, making my choice for my next destination much easier. Apart from the funding of my studies, The Data Lab changed my life in a good way, giving me the opportunity during the year to attend events throughout Scotland and meet with inspiring scientists from all fields who are interested in Data Science. During this challenging year, these events helped me learn what the market’s needs are, get informed about the fast growing field that I was studying and make some great friendships.

Apart from all these privileges, I was one of the two students who worked in The Data Lab during the summer as a Data Scientist Intern and wrote my thesis with the help of Brian Hills, Head of Data. The topic was “How to win a Kaggle competition”, and I believe that the conditions could not have been better. The Data Lab gave me the opportunity to work in a creative environment with professionals around me who consulted me throughout the process. With the help of the organization I also got the opportunity to meet with successful data scientists such as George Theologou from Skyscanner and Kaggle Grandmaster Marios Michailidis, whose contribution to the thesis were invaluable. Furthermore I was part of the Data Science team, shadowing the Data Lab Data Scientists in novel and innovative projects. I was lucky enough to work with Business Development Director Jude McCorry on ideas for Datafest 2019 and receive business coaching from all the Data Lab staff on how Data Science works in the industry. I am honoured to be a Data Lab alumni and my experiences in the organization is a part of my CV that I am very proud of.

Currently, I am an IT Intern of the Data Centre and Network Services at the European Investment Bank in Luxembourg and apart from improving my French, I am also trying to evolve as a scientist having in mind everything I learnt last year in the Data Lab.

Fazl Barez: MSc at University of Glasgow (Mathematics & Statistics)

My name is Fazl Barez and I am a Data Scientist Intern at The Data Lab. I have a bachelors in Economics. During my bachelors degree, I was introduced to the subject of Econometrics where I learned to analyse datasets in order to answer economics-related questions. After several internships at financial firms and research hubs, I was interested in why countries that are rich in natural resources (oil, minerals, gold etc) have the lowest economic growth. This led me to do my economics dissertation on the relationship between economic growth and financial development to see if there existed a curse of natural resources.

For this, I collected data from the World Bank, IMF and ECB. This dataset was in the form of Panel which was challenging in several ways. All previous literature excluded resource-rich countries from their analysis as these countries are challenging to work with both in terms of missing values and other correlations with major economic and political events. While working in this, I realised the importance of extracting information from data to make better policy decisions in order to turn these resources from being a curse into a fortune. This sparked a desire in me to go and become a data scientist.

I chose to study at the University of Glasgow School of Mathematics and Statistics because this course allowed me to truly learn and understand the core concepts behind the Mathematics and statistics of large data sets and how to develop advanced Machine learning (ML) and Artificial intelligence (AI) models that would offer a greater solution at scale if I was to do my undergraduate dissertation again. For my MSc Thesis, I decided to study Explainable ML and AI at the Data Lab Innovation Centre at the University of Edinburgh. In my thesis, I looked at different data science platforms and explored the scope and ability of different platforms. During this work, I learned to use 5 cloud-based platforms to conduct DS related tasks at the same time I built numerous supervised and unsupervised machine learning models with a focus on explainability in R and Python. Overall, I have truly enjoyed my course (sometimes with tears) and my time at the Data Lab has been amazing both in terms of my learnings but also in terms of the people I have had the pleasure of meeting.

Thanks to the experience I gained at the Data Lab, I will be starting a full-time job at RBS as Data scientist ML Engineer.

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