How NOT to get a job offer as new grads

Disclaimer: This post represents my personal experience only, and has nothing to do with any organization or group. 

When I was a student, I read tons of articles on how to prepare for job hunting and how to get a job offer. Now, I am sitting on the other side of the table and start to participate in the talent acquisition process myself. This gives me a different perspective on the recruiting process. In particular, how I decide NOT to move forward with a candidate.  Here I am giving a few examples for new grads: how NOT to get a job offer. Follow this list, and you will likely NOT get an offer. So, try not to be a follower.

Non-linearity and local optimum mindset

Time flies. It’s been 7 months since I started to work as a full-time Data Scientist. It sometimes feels much shorter than 7 months: imaging neurons in the laboratory as a graduate student and walking on the stairs in front of Alma mater on campus was just like yesterday. It sometimes feels much longer than that: working is so vastly different from academic study, and I’ve learned so much on so many aspects of data science within this short-long period of time, that my mind and understanding of the industry and the world hardly resembles the graduate student me.

Here I am summarizing a few lessons I learned from work.

May the Force be with you

My internship at Tapad has officially come to an end last week, after I gave a final presentation of my project (see the intro video below). It’s been a very memorable and rewarding summer. I not only learned about the latest technological development and application of machine learning and big data, but also got to experience the industrial work style and start-up culture.

Take the audience on a journey

During my final round interview at Tapad, the VP of Data Science noticed my academic background in neuroscience, and we started to discuss how neuroscience research could contribute to online advertising. Later in the interview, he asked “Have you heard of reinforcement learning (RL)?” And I said no. He explained this reward-guided learning paradigm, which immediately reminded me of my undergraduate research on aversive learning in fruit flies. After the interview, he emailed me the link to RL Courses on YouTube taught by David Silver, the leading scientist of AlphaGo.

Iterative learning

In my very first meeting with my mentor at Tapad, after an introduction to DeviceGraph and AdTech 101, we started to discuss the project I would be working on during my internship. The first week was very intense and my mentor understood my struggle in the face of information overload. He showed me his system of organizing information by writing down his incremental knowledge about certain technology as well as his spark of ideas. I adapted his system and developed my own archive to track my learning process and ideas using Google Docs (the picture above).  Now, 5 weeks have passed and I have continuously updated the documents as I learn: the more I know, the more I realize I do not know, and the more I want to learn. Learning is an iterative process.