Unlocking Opportunities in Data Science for Social Good
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Unlocking Opportunities in Data Science for Social Good

"By surrounding yourself with people who are also pursuing data science for good, you will have the opportunity to collaborate and learn from each other to better not just the community you are working for, but also grow as individuals."

Danilo Jr. Gubaton, Fellow, Data Science Bootcamp Cohort 5 (2020) || Interviewed by Bela Lumba, Eskwelabs Brand Designer

Dan's journey into data science

How did you get into data science/want to learn data science? What made it interesting for you to learn?

The company I am currently working for recently created a data science group and as someone who analyzes data on a daily basis to perform my job, the DS group’s projects really resonated with me. I also read a lot of articles on how data science is helping better understand COVID-19 and its spread. From here, I really got curious and wanted to learn and apply data science and machine learning concepts myself, given the multitude of opportunities available for people pursuing the field of data science.

Dan's motivation for creating social impact

Can you share with us a bit of a background story on why you are passionate about the social impact space? What inspired you and what motivated you? What is your advocacy if you have any?

Growing up, I have always been grateful for the opportunities provided to me by all the generous people I have met in my life. I was a scholar in high school and college, and so I owe where I am today to all the people who were generous enough in believing in my potential and giving me the opportunity to pursue my dreams. With this, I became a firm believer of paying it forward by helping other people get the opportunities I was provided.

Dan's Data Science Fellowship online experience

What were your initial expectations on learning data science online? What was the experience like?

Because of my curiosity on learning data science, I did a lot of research, applied to various MOOCs, and watched a lot of youtube videos about data science. However, this was not as productive as I would have wanted it to be. So I really wanted the Eskwelabs bootcamp to provide a clearer direction to people who are new to the field like me. During the bootcamp, I really had a much clearer understanding of data science in just a few weeks of being in the program. Although it was very hard to balance my work and the bootcamp, the community—including the instructors, mentors, [Eskwelabs] staff, and my co-Fellows—was generous enough to help me a lot even outside the class hours. My bootcamp experience was a lot of fun and life-changing because of the awesome Eskwelabs community, to say the least.

What was it like meeting everyone virtually (Lectures, Socials, Mentors & Sprints)?

At first, I thought that it would be very hard to develop rapport and be friends with everyone given the online set-up of the bootcamp. However, everyone is equally passionate, inspiring, and fun-loving, so it was very easy to connect—which added to the overall experience of the bootcamp. The socials and career development sessions also helped us a lot to become closer although physically distant. I think everyone would definitely agree that we would want to see each other personally once the pandemic is over.

Dan on data being used for good

What are the technical aspects you discovered about data science that would benefit the social impact space?

I believe that there are a lot of initiatives being pursued to benefit communities in various applications of data science. Given how data science helps us better understand and derive meaningful insights about the world, we are also better equipped to provide better solutions to problems that we currently face. I can see a lot of applications ranging from data visualization and machine learning to more advanced applications of data science concepts to create positive social impact.

What are some data for good projects you are excited about and why?

I am very excited to pursue the project we did during the last [Data] sprint of the bootcamp. For our sprint project, my group created Muttbot: a mathematics chatbot deployed in Telegram targeting high school students who do not have internet access. Although we would still need to do a lot of improvements with our chatbot, I would want to pursue similar projects moving forward. I am also currently applying and looking forward to joining and collaborating with other data enthusiasts all over the globe through hackathons and data for good organizations including Omdena.

What advice would you give to someone like you who is finding their way into the data for good space?

I believe the best advice I could give would be to find a role model in the data science field who also pursues data for good initiatives. It would also be great if you can have a community or a group of friends who are also willing to help you with the projects you are pursuing. By surrounding yourself with people who are also pursuing data science for good, you will have the opportunity to collaborate and learn from each other to better not just the community you are working for, but also grow as individuals. Another tip would be to join or even connect with some people in the Eskwelabs community, given how most of the people in Eskwelabs want to create a positive impact, too.

Dan's Demo Day

Take a look at the capstone project that Dan and his groupmates presented during their Demo Day

Last November 2020, members from the Eskwelabs community who watched the Demo Day live online participated by voting for the "Audience's Favorite." This capstone project won 2nd place in the "Audience's Favorite Award." The name of this project: Building an E-commerce Gift Recommender System based on User-Generated Wishlists. Project's group members: Rai Ferrer, Emer Chua, Dan Gubaton, Rob Bañadera, Jr., and Rhey Magcalas.

Want to grow and learn with a data-driven community? Sign up for the Data Science Fellowship today.