The U-turn

<a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/neema-madayi-veetil/"><strong>Neema Madayi Veetil</strong></a>
Neema Madayi Veetil

Data Science Specialist and Writer @TDI, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

In today’s world, individuals are often defined by their professions and everybody has a unique professional journey. It is said that if you take up your passion as your profession, you would never have to work. In my case, it felt that some external force directed me to take up a career which eventually became my passion. The story starts in 2012 when I enrolled at Northeastern University for a Master’s in Computer Science. Back then, I was a typical student who likes other students wanted to pursue Masters after their bachelors just for the sake of study. I was obsessed with learning and never focused on working.

The university picking and other criteria was decided by my parents and they wanted their daughter to receive a world-class education and so I took TOEFL, GRE and voila I was ready to enroll for a Masters program. Typical of the parent mindset, Northeastern University was solely chosen because we had friends and relatives living in Boston and hence it was a relief for my parents to send their pampered child to travel. After I reached US., that was when I realized it was a no joke and I needed to study really hard to excel in the program. I studied extensively computer programming and algorithms.

Some would question if this is what I really wanted because my parents decided it for me. But it was what had done throughout my life. I always followed my parents for my life decisions. However, when I started doing the weekly assignments, I realized I made a huge mistake by enrolling for this course. Though I was ok with coding but I did not enjoy it.

To make the most out of my time in NEU, I tried to find classes that would interest me. When all my friends (classmates) were busy taking hardcore coding courses, I started learning statistics & data mining. I took courses related to data management/mining and eventually took courses pertaining to data science. I learned hypothesis testing, algorithms, and predictive modeling during my last semester. This was when people were not much aware of data science. So finally, I graduated with MS in CS but with a specialty in Data Science.

In the year 2015, I went back to India due to a huge setback in my personal life. I decided to utilize my newly earned skills and started searching for a job and luckily found one within a month’s time as Data Analyst in S&P Global. Luckily, my manager back then provided me with data analysis opportunities from where I started working in practical coding Python & R. As and when I progressed to different projects, I found myself writing code and forgot the fact that “coding” was the very same reason I deviated from my friends back while choosing courses. But this time it was different, I like coding when it involves analysis and hence, I was curious to learn and pick up any coding skills be it SQL, Python, R and VBA.

Fast forward 4 years, I am working in an MNC as Data Analytics-Specialist. I have embraced coding and handling multiple projects all utilizing coding. At the same time, I am also trying my hand in the field of ML and AI concepts. But when your job is in a field you are passionate about, you ever feel the burden and rather it is always an enjoyable experience?

Although my career has taken an unexpected route, I am very much happy with what I have achieved. From my life experiences, I feel many times life directs you towards an unknown path. But eventually, you relish the way things have fallen into place. Nature has its way of bringing us to what we need in the end. Trust the process.

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