1) What motivated you to take on the Data Scientist in Residence role for the Ishango.ai fellowship?
In the last 10 years I have worked in data science, growing in experience as each year passed. These 10 years have been mostly about “self improvement”. I wanted to finally enter a “giving back” phase of my life by volunteering to impart my knowledge onto young adults that have not had equal opportunity, but still incredible potential.
2) What did your role as the Data Scientist in Residence entail?
I supported Ishango.ai fellows working on six different data science projects. This involved being on calls with the fellows and the host companies they were paired with (about two or three 30-minute calls per day) during which we discussed next steps, results, and any coding issues they may have encountered. Outside of calls I further discussed next steps and analysis; reviewed code; and helped pull any teams that were struggling with any blockers. I also provided feedback on their slides when it came to trying to best present complex data science to a non-technical audience. Work hours were 9am – 5pm with a one hour lunch and a short morning and afternoon coffee break. At the end of the programme, I tried to help some of the most talented fellows get jobs by writing them recommendations for open positions they had found.
3) How has this experience contributed to your own personal and professional growth?
No matter how long one has spent in the field of data science, there is always more to learn. I learned about the details of systems for dog food recommendations; mental health prediction from brain activity data; and the land cover classification from satellite images.
4) What has been your biggest highlight from your time in Rwanda?
Living in a country so different from where I have lived before; as well as forming life-long friendships with many of the fellows. Their backgrounds are very different from my own; but we connected so strongly.
5) What advice would you give anyone who may be considering volunteering as an Ishango.ai mentor or data scientist in Residence.
Get out of your comfort zone and do something that will not only change your perspective on life forever, but will also help upskill young Africans that have not had the same opportunities you have had!