Where are you working currently, and what do you do there?
I’m currently an Associate Data Analyst at Manulife.
Can you tell us a bit about your education and career background?
I have a Master's degree with honours in International Economic Relations. I graduated in 2016 from the National Aviation University in Ukraine.
My previous work experiences include being an Executive Assistant at EY Ukraine, Advisory Department and a Support Manager at Depositphotos.
I have a master's in International Economic Relations, my previous roles were non-technical: Support Manager at Depositphotos, Executive Assistant at EY Ukraine.
Why did you choose to study at BrainStation?
I wanted to make a career switch and become a Data Scientist because I have always enjoyed working with data. I liked what BrainStation’s program offered and the reviews were great and definitely backed that. One of the things that really convinced me to join the program was the admission challenge. It took some time to complete and it involved some quick learning, but I thought this was a great way to make sure that new students were serious about what they were looking to pursue.
One of the things that really convinced me to join the program was the admission challenge. It took some time to complete and it involved some quick learning, but I thought this was a great way to make sure that new students were serious about what they were looking to pursue.
What motivated you to start digital skills training?
I was working remotely and I thought it was a good time to pursue a direction that I was passionate about. I had taken courses in econometrics, statistics, and probability theory when studying international economic relations and I found these very interesting. I wanted to have my career connected with data analysis in some way, and that's when I discovered data science. It combines everything I was ever interested in and even more!
I started by learning some things on my own, but eventually realized that a classroom setting would get me to where I wanted to be a lot faster, as well as show potential employers that I am really committed to learning data science and becoming a Specialist.
How would you describe your learning experience at BrainStation?
I really enjoyed learning on campus, the Educators and Teaching Assistants were always there for me if I had any questions or needed help. The lectures were always very interesting and were backed up with plenty of stories and examples from real life experiences.
What was the highlight of your learning experience?
The BrainStation 3D working session – it was a super stressful 24 hours, but such a great opportunity to learn and collaborate with students from the other disciplines and learn about the nuances of their work process.
What was the most challenging part of your learning experience?
Weeks nine to 11 of the program were the most challenging – there was a lot going on in terms of new material and we also had to make substantial progress in our capstone projects before Demo Day. At times it felt like there was just no way to finish everything on time, but somehow everything came together and the results were so great!
How has your BrainStation experience impacted your career?
I was hoping to make a career switch when starting the bootcamp and this is exactly what happened. Even though the job market is unstable right now due to COVID, I have my first real job in the industry and I'm applying everything I've learned at BrainStation! I couldn't have asked for more!
What would you say were the most valuable skills you learned?
I'd say the most valuable skills I learned are related to time management and being resourceful. I can now understand the root of any problem on the fly and quickly find a solution for it, even if it involves learning new things rapidly to complete the task. I think I’m now prepared to take on any workload and know how to prioritize different tasks to ensure they are completed in a timely manner.
How have you incorporated those skills into your current role?
Yes, definitely. As an Intern, there is a huge amount of learning that I still have to do, but I don't want to take up too much of my colleagues' time. I research the questions I have and in most cases I’m able to figure everything out on my own without needing too much support from others.
What advice would you give to professionals considering a BrainStation Bootcamp?
There is a lot of learning that takes place in 12 weeks, and at times it feels like nothing really settles, but eventually it does. The assignments really help you digest all the new material and don't worry if you missed something, you can always revisit concepts once the program ends. Good luck!
Before the program starts, BrainStation also offers materials on Synapse to prepare for the course. This material contains some information on statistics and Python. I think it's really important to go through them and get some Python practice as soon as possible, because it really helps you keep up with the course content.
RoadBoost: Intelligent Traffic Light Control System
Deep reinforcement learning was used to create an intelligent traffic light control system. SUMO (Simulation of Urban Mobility) helped to create an environment with vehicles and pedestrians; the goal was to teach the traffic light to react to the situation in real time and adjust the lights accordingly. Negative cumulative reward was calculated based on the amount of vehicles and pedestrians stopped at the intersection. After every action the reward was recalculated, and after 100 epochs of training the delay decreased substantially and most vehicles and pedestrians were able to move through without waiting.
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