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Anna Marek

Grab onto the exciting opportunities The Data Lab offers and don’t let go!

Guest blog from Anna Marek, MSc in Data Engineering at University of Dundee

My name is Anna, I have recently graduated from the University of Dundee with an MSc in Data Engineering funded by The Data Lab. To be honest I initially thought that The Data Lab Scholarship was simply a source of funding, but now I know that it is so much more… Let me tell you about my journey.

I did my undergraduate degree in neuroscience, in my last year I worked on a science project which involved a bit of coding – this was enough to make me fall in love with it and so I ended up doing the Masters. Sounds simple, but in reality I ended up on a very intense computing course with no previous experience in the field. The ‘learning to code’ part was challenging but straightforward in the sense that it simply required me to spend lots of time studying. The part which I was more worried about was the lack of relevant work experience or project portfolio which would normally be developed during the undergraduate degree. The truth is that the computing degree alone can only get you so far and employers want to see how you’ve applied your knowledge in practice. Fortunately all my worries faded away soon after I realised what The Data Lab had in store for us…

The Data Lab supports you all the way from application to interview

During The Data Lab Welcome event held in Edinburgh I was very much inspired by various speakers and the programme alumni who were working in the tech industry. I realised that there was lots of effort put into setting up summer placements for us and that we would be supported all the way from the application process to the interview. I also met other students from universities all over Scotland and I found it reassuring that many of them were switching to technology from other fields, just like me.

We were also all invited to Data Talent which was a conference focused on data driven innovation, it was an incredible opportunity to meet multiple different tech companies and most of them were actively recruiting. What I found very surprising was that the employers were trying to convince us to work for them rather than the other way round, it was very refreshing !

Working on real world Data Science challenges

The Innovation week was held a few months later and was another chance to connect with other students and employers by working in teams on real world Data Science challenges. It made us realise the magnitude and complexity of problems outside of the academic environment and gave us a feel for how diverse data related problems can be. It was not all work though, we all stayed in the same hostel and so it was a great excuse to explore the glamorous Glasgow nightlife and get to know each other better 🙂

The highlight of this very intense and exciting year was my internship at The Data Lab where I worked on using synthetic data to improve machine learning. It was an incredible summer during which I learnt more than ever and met some amazing people who supported me all the way throughout my project. It was great to know that my work was relevant and had a direct impact on the industry, not to mention gaining the ‘relevant work experience’ I was so worried about.

I now feel like an insider with an amazing network of people around me

To sum it all up, being part of The Data Lab programme allowed me to understand the technology world, gain practical experience and most importantly – it made me feel like an insider with an amazing network of people around me. I could not be more excited about the future, I am soon starting my graduate job as a technology consultant for Accenture. I firmly believe that all the experience gained throughout this year and particularly the ability to relate to the real-world technological challenges greatly helped me in securing this position.

What I can tell you is that The Data Lab programme will offer you countless exciting opportunities and experiences, you will just need to grab them and not let go 🙂

Interested in our MSc programme? Find out more…

Here’s a short video of Anna Marek, filmed at Data Talent:

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