My first year at Python Predictions

February 25, 2020 - Benoit Vandekerkhove

There it is ! Yes, my first-year anniversary @PythonPredictions is already here. So much happened, so fast. I cannot believe what an incredible journey it has been, since I graduated. My first year at Python Predictions, my first year as a Data Scientist. It was a year filled with firsts.

My first job

Let’s go! Freshly graduated as a Master of Science (Statistical Engineering), I had a few interviews and took some tests. And…, I got it, I got the job! I will be a Data Scientist. Sounds cool right?

PythonPredictions, here I come. But why this company? Why a consulting firm? My answer is simple: after only a few years of studying and doing internships, which young graduate can say he knows enough about data science to select an industry where he’ll be staying at (forever)? Definitely not me! The journey begins, the journey towards the discovery of the broad possibilities that Data Science has to offer. So far, I’ve only scratched the surface.

My first day

The usual, administration stuff, while trying to capture what the company is all about. Actually that did not take long because the next day, I attended …

My first Share2Know

“For the team and by the team”

Wait, what? My first Share2Know: this is how we call Python’s monthly team meeting. This half-day is reserved on the last Friday of every month to Share Knowledge and learn from each other. It is a handful of project presentations, technical introductions, hands-on workshops and brainstorms for the team and by the team. I have to admit my first thought was: “What can I say or add during a project brainstorm? Me? A junior with no business background, and only a master’s degree, compared to experienced colleagues with PhDs?” Well, I was completely wrong. This is how we do things around here: all ideas are good. From the newbie to the “big boss”. It’s this great mix of minds, backgrounds and points of views that forms one of our biggest strength. But S2K also takes it one step further: it is a time to discuss working life together and to take a look at the future. This way, everyone feels involved. At the end of the day, I was sure: I am one of the professionals. But not a number, not just one of the anonymous guys sitting behind computers at a huge firm. I felt already like a member of a team of experts. Much more than an “one-out-of-many” data scientist. How exciting!!

My first week

Time went on: the first week at the office started. Yes, at the office. I wasn’t thrown to the wolves at one of our clients to be devoured by stress. I got the chance to get comfortable. I got some hands-on feedback on past projects by my colleagues and went through some interesting individual training too. Our team is proud of what we achieve at our clients, and the way we collaborate with them. That is why it was crucial to be well prepared.

My first project

“I am also a consultant!”

15 days later, ready (or not), let’s do this! First project, first mission, first client: no time to ask myself any question that I found myself already at the project’s kick-off meeting. I understood very quickly that I would not be some kind of task force, who just carries out orders. Got to do what they told you? Think again: this was my project. My coach was only there to support me. This means that I had to lead or take part in all business meetings, story-telling, presentations, follow-up and technical meetings myself. That was the moment that I realized my job is so much more than writing code… I am also a consultant! And being a consultant does require consulting skills, not something you learn in math courses at school. It’s all about building bridges between real-life business cases and technical advanced analytics. Nevertheless, my studies and theoretical background suddenly made sense. When you have to face business stakeholders and explain them your algorithm, the way it makes decisions to provide useful insights, you fully understand the added value of a very simple linear regression compared to an extra complex neural network. These are only a few examples of the many aspects the work of a data scientist includes. It’s not measurable just talking math and statistics. It’s all about the business impact your work has.

My first office day

The first months went by so quickly. My schedule is a busy one, just like the agendas of my colleagues. I don’t see them that often and, although I build a good relationship with my clients’ internal team, I won’t be there forever. That’s probably the downside of consulting. Until… my first optional office day arrives. This is so important to the team: it’s a moment to come over at the Python office and to work on our own projects at the same place. We share a lunch together, and obviously conclude with an after-work drink. Including the S2K, we meet each other every two weeks and this tradition is much appreciated. It’s just long enough to miss each other, to be excited to catch up and thrilled to share a moment together. It’s a great way to reinforce the team synergy.

My first 2-Way

First project is done: on the next one, and the next one. I am learning so much and improving my skills every day. My first evaluation meeting with the “boss” is coming… Stress? No! Okay, maybe! Just a little bit. But actually, evaluating is not the way we do it at PythonPredictions: it’s all about feedback. Next level feedback: 2-Way feedback! Everyone is encouraged to give feedback to anyone, even to the “boss”! How does this feel? Well, pretty strange to receive raw feedback and even more to give some. But in the end, it does feel good: it gives me confidence and it helps me to improve. It’s an important event that happens twice a year for everyone, to make sure that we feel great in our work environment.

My first article

BAM!! 1 YEAR. What?! Already?! Yeaah! How can I finish this first year at PythonPredictions? With one more first? Let’s try something new (again). You guessed it (well, read it): my first article.

I’ve learned so much in only one year. Ready for more, ready to grow! Thank you, PythonPredictions. Thank you for your trust from the start and let’s continue this adventure with, no doubt, lots of new firsts to come!