Month: June 2017

Work-Life Dream

A few months ago, I was recommended by my manager and the actuarial division head to join the Advanced Analytics team. Up from the very first meeting with the program director of the said team, I strove to set myself apart — by doing research on data science online curricula and producing a self-paced training program (which came off to be a strong first impression, I later found out from him ^_^ ). I wanted to show them that I’m genuinely passionate and not just blindly trying to rotate out — I actually know where to go and have a (semi-solid) plan to get there.

From then on, I would say that I had the best work-life experience (within a corporate setting) that I could possibly dream of! 8D Aside from monthly touchpoints with my new manager, I was free to do as I please so I took charge of my own data science training.

How I disrupted my current working conditions

The first thing I did was load my desktop with apps like RStudio and Python, which are pretty rare in the production floor. I set up an interactive R training program through the Swirl library, which taught basic and advanced R functions and concepts right within the console for free.

Then without informing anyone, I moved to a nice remote location in the upper floor — away from the 90-ish actuarial people that I used to share an office with. This time, I could work alone and undistracted, able to enter the state of flow more easily. * u *

Once I was done with R training, I subscribed to a data visualization course by Nathan Yau of FlowingData, which was very interesting for me as it emphasizes data storytelling and the artistic side of Data Science. It really came in handy when I joined the Data Visualization Challenge with my mentor Glenn. I thought it would increase my credibility to win an award this way, and so we toiled on the project up until the hour of deadline. And very very fortunately, we became champions! :D. (Turns out that the program director was one of the judges, and the heatmap I learned from FlowingData provided the most business value)

After that, I decided to start consuming up the Python Programming and Machine Learning courses that I bought from Udemy. For some reason, I’m not afraid at all to invest in myself, especially when it comes to self-enrichment. :D. Carrying it on up until now.

Because of this, I sort of became more disconnected from the workplace I was used to, like a rare pokemon, not that I mind. I save more time focusing on my work by checking the work mail only 3 times a day (tip from Brad), and setting the office chat to busy mode by default. My introverted side beams with joy! Here is my new routine:

1. Read a nonfiction book on the way to office
2. Study for SOA Exam for 2 hrs
3. Work on a data science topic for 3 hrs
4. Work on a different data science topic for 3 hrs
5. Jog along the UPD academic oval for 1.5 hrs
6. Learn a poker concept on the way home
7. Join a poker table until you get kicked out or become sleepy

And I must say, I am more than satisfied! I guess I thrive best in working autonomously and designing my own path (the captain of my soul, literally!). It’s great to be able to move the needle everyday with all of my top ventures.

I know this arrangement will end someday, maybe sooner than later once I have to collaborate with the team and move into their area (still partially remote, so it’s okay). I have my anxieties too of not being at par with their standards (since I’ve only been training by myself and have not applied my knowledge to real-world stuff except for the datavis). But once it ends, that will be the official start of my data science career. And the director has a lot of projects waiting on the wings for me, as a safe environment for learning the ropes of advanced analytics — which I think is an awesome deal. :D.

So stoked for the rest!