Taking stock at half-time: The journey of DSA students at Ship Shape
Updated: Nov 12
We’re at the mid-way point of our journey with three talented students from Cardiff’s Data Science Academy.
The past 2 months have been a period of learning for all three students. Working together with the data science team at Ship Shape, the collaborative project has two core aims:
Collate and produce a well-trusted, complete, and immediately available source of financial history in the UK.
Use primary source data to show themes within financial services
Last week, I caught up with Juhi, Can and Elisavet about their experience to date:
How are you finding the project so far?
Juhi - It has been good so far. It has given me an outlook on how operations work in real companies. In University, we get theoretical knowledge, but going to the outside world, there are practical applications that are implemented a little bit differently. So far the project is going well and I am learning a lot.
Can - University teaches us how to solve supervised problems, but the project I am doing now is unsupervised learning, which has helped me improve my overall knowledge of NLP. Very happy to be part of the project.
Elisavet - I like the project a lot - the fact that we are working with a real company and working on an industry facing project helps us fully utilise our skills and knowledge in the real world.
“ I have been taught a lot about NLTK thanks to this project, I have used a lot of different libraries that I hadn't before”
- Hasan Can Uzuner, Msc Data Science and Analytics at Cardiff University
2. What has surprised you most about working in a professional environment compared to a university? Difference or similarities?
Juhi - I think when we were working on a group project in university, we usually don't have the supervision that we have here, usually, it's about the marks and we'll get feedback later on. But in a professional case, if something is wrong, we find a solution straight away. It is a nice surprise that we learn to work while addressing our mistakes at the same time.
Can - For me, it is the meeting each day. It actually pushed and motivated me to work on this project every day as you want to show something new each time. Also, using new tools compared to our local computers has helped follow the progress of the work better. It is great to learn new tools which I am still learning myself.
Elisavet - I find a lot of differences, firstly, the tools we have to use and learn. Secondly, it is different as you have to be responsible for your part of the project and your team waits to hear your concerns each day, and then work together, Lastly, in my Masters, I dedicated a lot of my time to my coding skills, but here I understand that it is crucial to fully understand the business problem first.
3. What have you achieved/submitted or overcome that you are most proud of?
Juhi - For me, it was the tools and overall scope that I had to overcome. In university, a project is given with the outlines and you have to stick and not question these, but working here has given us the edge to understand how the business scenario works and question the outcome of what we are doing. I found it difficult at first to understand how this will affect a business operation and I was not prepared for it but through asking questions and learning myself, I overcame this and now I have gained a developing skill of understanding business objectives better.
Can - When I started to study data science, I had no idea about NLP and I didn't expect to work in NLP fields, I have been taught a lot about NLTK thanks to this project, I have used a lot of different libraries that I hadn't before and understand a little more about each library and now further understanding how NLP works.
Elisavet - I am proud of a lot of things, even though we have not finished yet. I have learnt about new tools like Can mentioned, but also I have learnt about how the business environment operates, like communication and collaboration between us and the Ship Shape team.
“Working here has given us the edge to understand how the business scenario works and question the outcome of what we are doing”
- Juhi Negi, MSc in Data Science & Analytics at Cardiff University
4. What soft skills have you developed or taken up that you did not expect when starting this project?
Juhi - I have learnt more about the collaborative spirit with your colleagues and also seniors. It feels less like a competition which sometimes comes across in university with our marks. So I think working with different people, communicating with them, learning from them, and implementing all that in a project, I think something that I have learnt a lot about.
Can - It has definitely improved my communication skills. I remember when I first came to the U.K and had a job interview and my communication wasn't too good, but this project has really improved my communication skills and how to get my ideas across. I also feel as we are working remotely, this is even more important now.
Elisavet - I learnt how to present my findings and to suggest improvements and feedback to the rest of the team. I also feel I am more of a team player, and feel more comfortable working together. As mentioned by others, my communication skills have improved which has, in turn, improved my understanding of time management,
“I would say go for it, definitely. If someone is eager to learn data science and analytics then I think it is a very powerful start”
- Elisavet Mourouzidou, MSc Data Science and Analytics at Cardiff University
5. What is the hardest challenge/task you have faced thus far and how did you overcome it?
Juhi - We have had some engineering issues that we have dealt with in the project. Even though we have not yet solved it, I feel confident that we will by the end of this month.
Can - For me, I have faced two main challenges. At first, I felt I lacked knowledge about my topic when first looking at it, but Gareth was great in helping me by guiding me to new libraries which I explored which I then used and that really helped me to understand my topic more. Secondly, I didn't know which library to use and which model would be best suited. I have overcome this now by trying all libraries and slowly evaluating which would be best from the elements of each library. I still don't know but I will by the end of the project.
Elisavet - I would agree with Juhi on the engineering side. Personally, I struggled initially with my communication skills and trying to adjust my working habits to the business environment to show how I am a valuable member of the team. I feel with time I have improved this and received positive feedback which has boosted my overall confidence.
6. Upon reflection of a certain task/issue, what could you have done differently and how may you implement that into a similar task into the future?
Juhi - Upon reflection, I did not know how many tools techniques there would be available to solve a business problem, so I would probably want to research more about tools so I have a better idea and understanding of how I can tackle a problem. I think also keeping up to date and tracking what is available is the best for me.
Can - I think I should have set my aims and goals more clearly. I have found myself focusing on a task but forgetting about another. Be more specific or have an overarching goal with smaller aims that accumulate to the main goal will help me keep more focus and be better overall.
7. Would you express interest in doing a similar project in the earlier years of university?
Juhi - Definitely recommend it, those that are in the first year of university don't always understand how business works, which is really different actually. It is valuable to have that basic knowledge of many different aspects, operations, financial etc. This project has opened my eyes to this and when other students get into it, they will learn about these areas too and apply it back into their university learning with a distinct advantage.
Can - I agree with Juhi, and to add that understating and getting used to unsupervised learning in business is something that universities miss and I believe that students who take this project will benefit from this project greatly.
Elisavet - I would say go for it, definitely. If someone is eager to learn data science and analytics then I think it is a very powerful start. And now as I search for a job, I can say that the opportunity provided by the university to expand my knowledge has made me understand that my skills are in demand and essential to business operations.
Thanks to Juhi, Can and Elisavet for taking the time out of your day to catch up and share how you are getting on.
Whilst only at the mid-way point, the project has illustrated how the collaborative effort between Ship Shape and the Data Science Academy has already started to achieve business aims and refined students knowledge and understanding of business acumen while improving their personal communication, presentation and collaborative skills.
We are excited to see how the students continue to flourish and we are excited to showcase how their contributions to data science at Ship Ship.
Elisavet Mourouzidou, MSc Data Science and Analytics
Hasan Can Uzuner, Msc Data Science and Analytics
Juhi Negi, MSc in Data Science & Analytics
Alistair Baillie, COO
Gareth Williams, Senior Data Scientist
Oliver Tobin, Data Coordinator
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