We’d like to introduce to you two dear Alumni Eskwelabs Fellows—Sean Paolo Flores and Jeriesa Osorio! They took time out of their day to answer a couple of questions we had about their ongoing journeys into the world of Data Science as DS professionals.

Let’s first talk to Sean Sean

Eskwelabs: Tell us about your journey learning Data Science. What initially interested you about the field?

Sean: I have both experiences working on customer-facing and business-facing positions, first as a retail buyer and then as a web developer. Coding and creating websites surely gave me the “creator’s high,” but I eventually started to miss solving business problems that directly translated to the business. After reading about Data Science, I realized that this was an area where I could use the business knowledge I acquired—both in the academe and through working experience—and still be able to code using the technological tools needed for the said field.

Eskwelabs: What you do at your job now? What is a day-to-day look like for you?

Sean: I'm currently a data scientist working on different opportunities where we can gain business leverage through data mining. Usual day-to-day [activities] involve model development, meetings with other business units, and knowledge sharing with other data scientists. Sometimes we also travel in order to better understand the data from its first-hand users.

Eskwelabs: What is the most interesting thing you have been able to do with Data Science?

Sean: I can't give the specifics because of confidentiality, though I think it’s always interesting for me when I am able to convince conventional people to believe in something that I did with Data Science.

Eskwelabs: What advice would you give to someone trying to learn the skill and break into the field?

Sean: For starters, watch the grit video from TED. Since you will surely need a lot of passion and perseverance, especially for career shifters like me. Join a lot of Facebook groups since there are many experts in the field who are eager to share their knowledge. Always ask questions and be curious. Engage in healthy conversations. Go to Data Science events and meetups, since many of those are free.

Eskwelabs: What inspires you to improve and learn? What motivates you to keep on going?

Sean: The more I learn about Data Science the more I realize how little my current knowledge is. This keeps me motivated to always strive for self-improvement with a goal that someday, I'll be able to help and teach other career shifters like me who want to be a data scientist.

“Data Science is anything that creates value through data for a more intelligent future.” –Sean Paolo Flores (from DS Fellowship Cohort 1)

Jeriesa

Now, let’s hear what Jeriesa had to say about these questions!

Eskwelabs: Tell us about your journey learning Data Science. What initially interested you about the field?

Jeriesa: I failed my first Programming class in college and shifted out of my degree program right away. I just could not imagine myself sitting in front of the computer all day figuring out why my code would not work. I then pursued Communication Research and actually enjoyed my Social Science and quantitative classes. After graduating, I worked as a researcher under the program, “Data Science and Society: Applications in Public Education” without knowing anything about Data Science at that time. I was just tasked to clean the data and perform basic stats. We then worked with people from Physics who are experts in complex systems—the Data Science people. We were supposed to just be the data translators but then in order to capture the insights, we should also know the logic behind it. Making sense of data and being able to communicate it to the right audience really excited me.

Eskwelabs: What you do at your job now? What is a day-to-day look like for you?

Jeriesa: Currently, I do not have full-time Data Science-related work since I am still finishing my graduate studies. In the meantime, I work as a health Social Science researcher in UP Manila, which mostly involves fieldwork, interviews, and qualitative data analysis. I am also a Communications Assistant in The World Bank Philippines. I am in charge of the daily news monitoring and data analytics from time to time. Not much Data Science at my job now but I make sure to still have time for passion projects. Together with my co-Fellows [from the Eskwelabs DS Bootcamp], we formed Mago Analytics, which is a Data Science for social good collective. It serves as an avenue for me to still do Data Science projects and also participate in hackathons.

Eskwelabs: What is the most interesting thing you have been able to do with Data Science?

Jeriesa: This may seem very basic but my proudest moment was when I got to make a map. As a fan of maps, I made it a point to learn how to do it and of course understand the concept behind spatial data and how I can link it with non-spatial data that we usually use in stats. With a map, I was able to identify locations in the country with poor access to healthcare facilities. I think—since the tools are already there—it is actually easy to plot things like a graph, chart, maps, etc., but the more difficult part is knowing how you could maximize these tools to better encapsulate your data.

Eskwelabs: What advice would you give to someone trying to learn the skill and break into the field?

Jeriesa: The syntax and maths can be very intimidating at first—especially for someone like me from the Social Sciences—but you just need to get used to it. Read articles, try to code every day, look for people and colleagues who share the same interests. Have a passion project and own it. Most importantly, you need to believe that you can do it.

Eskwelabs: What inspires you to improve and learn? What motivates you to keep on going?

Jeriesa: As a social scientist, it is important for me that data reaches the people who need it the most. During my fieldwork, I have encountered people who lack access to basic services. But we all know that anecdotes are not enough when it comes to the decision-making of our policymakers. Their stories keep me going. I hope that they will not be mere numbers for our decision-makers and data scientists. Our work should not end with models and dashboards; it should also have a positive impact on the actual lives of these people.

“Data Science is about transforming lives for the better.” –Jeriesa Osorio (from DS Fellowship Cohort 2)

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