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Sulakshana Athare is an assistant professor with a PhD in chemistry. Before coming into data science, she thought it was only for programmers or coders. But her friend’s career transition from physics academics to data science and various articles on data science, broke her preconceived belief and inspired her to formally learn the subject. So, she enrolled for the Global Certificate in Data Science & AI (GCDAI) program at INSAID.  

In this interview, let’s see what interests her about data science the most and how she plans to build a career around it. 

Question 1: Which program & batch are you part of at INSAID & tell us more about your current work profile?

Sulakshana: I’m pursuing the Global Certificate in Data Science & AI (GCDAI) program at INSAID. I have been sick for a long time and currently, I am looking forward to a job in the data science industry.

Question 2: Walk us through your career journey & what got you interested in Data Science & Machine Learning?

Sulakshana: After completing MSc in organic chemistry from the Department of Chemistry, Pollyannas, I cleared the state eligibility exam for lectureship in 2013 and taught chemistry till 2014. After that, I registered for a PhD in 2014.

During my PhD days, I had no idea about data science. I thought data science was only for those who have great command in programming languages. But when I discussed with one of my friends, who is a data scientist himself, I got to know it’s a field of study and profession that anyone can pursue with proper training.

So, I started reading about data science and machine learning last year and got really interested in it. And soon after I completed my PhD, I registered for the GCD program at INSAID and took a temporary job at the Modern College of Art, Science and Commerce. I later upgraded my course to GCDAI.   

Question 3: What all tools and packages in Data Science & Machine Learning have you mastered in your Data Science & AI program at INSAID so far?

Sulakshana: The courses offered at INSAID are in compliance with the current market demand and it takes due care of its students irrespective of the course he or she has undertaken. From CDF to GCDAI, everything is very well taught. Thanks to all the learned and experienced mentors at INSAID.

Coming from a non programming background, I got a lot of help from the Python startup kits. The startup kit for statistics is also very useful. I was well supervised through various machine learning algorithms involving linear regression, logistic regression, decision tree, random forest, cane and clustering techniques, etc.

Besides, there were also numerous sessions from well-experienced industry “gurus” every Thursday, so students came to know how things work in the industry in real-time.  

Question 4: What were some of the initial challenges when you got started on your Data Science journey and how did you overcome it?

Sulakshana: Being from a non-programming background, I had a fear of coding. But after attending such sessions and practicing everything they taught, I overcame the same.

Question 5: Who is your favorite faculty at INSAID and what did you learn from him the Most?

Sulakshana: The November 2019 Batch was taught by Suchit Majumdar, the patient mentor, and I take this opportunity to thank him for his valuable guidance and teachings. He is never tired of solving any of our queries during the class so our sessions often extended beyond two hours.

I have also learned how to make impressive interactive dashboards using Tableau from a very proficient and great mentor, Amit Goyal. I feel lucky to have these learned and allocable mentors who solve each and everyone’s query with a very good explanation.

Question 6: What is the goal of Data Science?

Sulakshana: The goal of data science is to predict the outcome or the future.

Question 7: In your view, how has Data Science evolved in the last few years?

Sulakshana: A few years back when I saw a board at a Canadian column on data science courses, I had no idea that this field of study could be so amazing and these algorithms could be applied to solve real-world problems.

Before, data science was mostly related to predicting outcomes in business. But right now, its scope of application has broadened in our day to day lives. In fact, it even has its applications in medical research, cancer prediction and biomedical images.

And as far as my field is concerned, which is now chemistry, data science and machine learning, it is used in material science for predicting properties, new materials, etc. So, it has widening scope which I feel will expand further in the future. 

Question 8: What are the current trends in Data Science that you are most excited about?

Sulakshana: With the pandemic COVID-19 situation, data analytics combined with AI will be of paramount importance in the form of credit, repair, and response in a proactive and accelerated manner to the global crisis and its aftermath. Automated machine learning is another upcoming trend.

Question 9: Which are some of the blogs that you follow?

Sulakshana: Although there are several data science blogs available, I follow AnalyticsVidhya

Question 10: What is your advice to anyone wanting to start a career in Data Science?

Sulakshana:  Data science is very fascinating. So whoever wants to venture into this, please read a lot about data science, analyze why you want to enter into this field, and never question whether you can do this. Just practice

This was the conversation with one of our GCDAI students – Asst. Prof. Sulakshana Athare.

To read more such wonderful student stories, check out INSAID Spotlight.

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