The goal of most graduate students is to learn new knowledge that they can apply in the workforce right away. Well our latest podcast guest, Tchuissi Mbu Nyamsi, achieved that goal when her UMBC Data Science internship turned into a new job!
Tune into this episode of UMBC's Mic'D Up Podcast to listen to Tchuissi's UMBC experience and greatest takeaways.
Dennise Cardona 0:00
Hello, and welcome to this episode of UMBC Mic'd Up podcast. My name is Dennise Cardona from the Office of Professional Programs. And I am here with a very special guest to we see from the UMBC data science graduate program. And I want to welcome you to the show, Tchuissi.
Thank you very much. I'm so glad to be here. And I'm excited to share my experiences with data science UMBC program.
Dennise Cardona 0:26
Excellent. So to get started, can you tell us a little bit about your educational journey, and maybe professional journey that you've taken so far that have landed you in this graduate program?
Sure. So I'm a French international students and from parents. Prior to UMBC, I was working for a French food and facility management company called Excel. Here in Maryland, I was a construction product manager in the facility management services, I have a master's degree in civil engineering back in Paris, and also have an undergrad degree in mathematics. So I decided to join these master data science because at my time I select so I was working on a benchmark, and there was a lot of missing data. It was challenging, but exciting at the same time. And I decided to really sharpen my skills in data science, to truly understand the value of data and to unlock the value of data. So that's the reason why I changed my career, to go back to school.
Dennise Cardona 1:30
That is fantastic. You know, when we think about data, there's so much data out there in the world. And I would imagine as a person who is studying data science, and somebody who's interested in it, and somebody who deals with it on a professional basis, it can probably feel a little overwhelming when you think about all the data that's out there and how it has to be cataloged and organized so that it's usable. Because what's the point of having data if it's not usable? Right,
exactly. So that's the beauty of that it's now without a lot of barriers, but we need to be able to, to clean them to explore them and to try to see the value and accordance with those data.
Dennise Cardona 2:08
Absolutely. So why did you choose the data science program here at UMBC, specifically?
So I mean, I'm living in Maryland, montgomery county, and I was looking for a master program close to my place. And that can be also affordable. And I was lucky enough to find that UMBC as also a campus at Shady Grove was, so just eight minutes by draft my place. So it was the perfect combination with the location program, the affordability. So I applied for this program, where we
Dennise Cardona 2:45
convenience when you're a working professional, because that's who our programs cater to working professionals when you are in that in that realm. That flexibility, that convenience factor is huge, because you've got to keep that work life balance in order to be able to feel, I think empowered and successful as both a professional and a student. At least that's been my experience where because I'm going to graduate program myself at UMBC. And I feel like that right there, that convenience factor of being able to drive to a campus it's close by that's an area where you maybe work or live takes away a lot of the stresses that could be apparent if you had to, if it wasn't as conveniently located.
Exactly, yeah, because sometimes it's me in classes. So after work, you'd also not to stay focused for two hour and 40 minutes. If we have to drive long hours in the church, they can be exhausting. So
Dennise Cardona 3:45
now speaking of that whole work life balance, right, because I think that that's on the minds of a lot of prospective students. At least I know for me, I was so worried about how am I going to maintain that work life balance between working full time and then really dedicated myself to my studies and being able to get the most out of it and really embrace that power of learning. How do you keep that work life balance being a student?
So So yeah, so when I came here, I was working for French food company, but when I applied for UMBC, and I got a student visa and so now I am an international students. So there are a lot of working restrictions during the first year. So I'm not a full time employee right now because now I am back to a visa, student visa. But in terms of work life balance, it's also a matter of trying to work my assignments when I am the most productive, especially in the morning. So that's why last year I used to wake up at 6am in the morning to to get the job done because that was the only moment where I can do everything that I wanted, without being interrupted. You stood. So yeah, I
Dennise Cardona 5:01
think that's one of the skills that a graduate student learns pretty early on in their career as a as a graduate student is being able to do that use those time management skills, because they are so critical when you're in graduate school to be able to understand when you're most productive. Understand that you have certain assignments, and you just have to do the work. And you have to set aside the time and sit down and put everything, all the other distractions aside, and just do the work. And then we exude right, you're empowered?
Exactly. Because going back to school, it's a financial commitment. So being able to do my assignments, it's also part of my responsibility as an adult, to stay engaged and to get my graduation. So it's important.
Dennise Cardona 5:48
Absolutely. What did you expect to get out of the UMBC? Data Science Program? Yeah,
so what I expected from the UMBC data science program is to get a solid foundation in data science, because data science, it's, it's a mix of mathematics, statistics, and computer science. So I really wanted to get solid foundations in those three areas to to be competitive in the job markets, and to find a job as a data scientist. later on. So I was, I'm lucky. So for now, I am really satisfied with the program with the UMBC data science program, because I was able to really improve my my coding skills. So I remember one year ago, I didn't know how to code in Python. And the first, the first semester was kind of challenging. But with time now, it's been a year now so I can see the progression and the progress that I made. So I am really proud of myself. And I'm really, I'm really happy to to be involved in this UMBC data science program,
Dennise Cardona 7:04
building that skill set and something that maybe you weren't familiar with, or maybe you were but you you were out of it for a while. In terms of the learning strategies, so that the faculty, the instructors applied to to your learning, could you talk a little bit about like, how, how, how they made it possible for you to be able to learn that and grow in that? Was it the faculty was that your peer engagement? What was it about the assignments that you had to perform that helped you to get back in the groove, if you will, of using something like Python?
Sure. So I remember. So one of my first course was a Python introduction. And the professor was really present for us. So he, he also organized some meetings on the weekends, to help us with the homework. The good things is also that we, we have tutoring assistance, that can help us with the assignments. So from Monday to Thursday, we can have a meeting with them. And they can help us with the assignments. So I was really fortunate enough to, to have tutoring assistance that helped me and the professors who were about to, to be down the weekend to help us. And it was a really, really great moment. Because otherwise, I don't know how I could make it. But those two supports were really important. And I'm really grateful for what the program at UMBC is providing. And
Dennise Cardona 8:43
it's that whole sense of social presence and community building, that a faculty member or an instructor creates within a course that helps us grow, I think as students because there are so many different backgrounds that come into a classroom, right? Like I'm sure with the peers that you study with. They come from different all different types of backgrounds and different organizations. And so when you bring that kind of experience into the classroom, and then the instructors have that real world experience as well, that creates a rich dynamic learning experience because you're not just looking at the world through your own lens anymore. You're actually seeing it through other people's lenses.
Unknown Speaker 9:26
Exactly. That's that's the the beauty of having a diverse class. And it's a it's really it's a really a wonderful experience. So in terms of team projects, so when we come from different backgrounds, sometimes we'll have someone who is a developer, so yes, good programming skills, another one can be better at marketing, and other one can be better at being detail oriented. So this diversity is what makes a good one effective and they experience really interesting for us.
Dennise Cardona 10:04
What challenged or surprised you so far in the program?
Sure. So I joined the program during the pandemics. So it wasn't August 2020. And for whites of a whole year, all the classes were virtual. So obviously, it's challenging because sometimes we can. So if you have any questions in terms of programming and coding, we can be like, in the class with a professor or with other classmates, that can help us. So having classes virtual can be convenient, but at the same time, it can be a challenge, because we are alone with our computer. And when we have coding questions, it's, there is no one to help us. So and now that we are back in school, I can see the difference. And I can see the value of having in person classes.
Dennise Cardona 10:54
Yeah, I would imagine being in person with when you're in a program, like data science, where it's incredibly just come across some incredibly complex principles. And it brings me back to when I was an undergrad taking a pretty intensive mathematics class at the time. And I remember that frustration I took out it was a lab math. So that means that you are really on your own, it was really independent learning. And I had such a hard time grasping some of the concepts, because I couldn't just have that immediacy of asking the professor or asking a peer. But then when it really would cement into my brain is when I would get together with a group of students and study together. And because it's sometimes it's just one little, one little small piece of information, right? That once you figure that one little small piece of information out, everything else makes sense.
Dennise Cardona 11:53
Absolutely. So when you were online now, when it was virtual, I'm curious, like, how did you get, you know, get over that whole challenge was it did the professor's our peers, have discussion boards that would help you kind of outside of the classroom and be able to ask these kinds of questions when you were stuck?
Yeah, so Exactly. So as I mentioned earlier, us whenever we have any questions, we can send an email to the professor and some professors were about to meet with us on the weekend. And we can also and also, when I, when I found that other classmates were better at coding than me, I was sending them some emails to ask them more personal questions about the classes, and they can also help me out. And with my teammates as well, whenever any questions they helped me out, and I wasn't able to, to leverage all my connections with UMBC to make the progress that I needed for to succeed.
Dennise Cardona 13:00
So can you talk about any kind of internship opportunities that you had while in the program? Sure. So
I was about to find a summer internship in a consulting firm. So I was interning as a data science consultant where I was working on developing training materials in data science, I was also developing some technical interview questions for the for the, for the firm, as well. And it was such a great experience. And there was about to extend in some internship as a part time internship for the fall and full time for the spring semester, as well. And they also give me a job offer. So it's, it's a great experience. And I'm glad that I can have this year without that much stress, to find a job that, yeah,
Dennise Cardona 13:55
that's great. Congratulations, that is huge. When you're actually in the program, and you have that opportunity to be able to build on the skills that you're learning in the classroom, and to be able to apply them to an internship or a work situation. That's really when I think it's really powerful at that point, because you're, you're taking this theory, and then you're applying it to the real world. And when you can do that, doesn't it, cement it in your brain even even better?
Exactly. And I think that's the best the goal of an internship is to be able to apply of the, of the theory that we learned during school and to see if the industry is a good fit, and also to be able to apply all the things that I've learned during the year. So it's a it's a good experience. And if I can have a job off the air, it's even better.
Dennise Cardona 14:46
Even better. Absolutely. What did you enjoy most about being in the Data Science program at UMBC?
So what I enjoyed most about being an UMBC data science program is the fact that The old professors are professionals. And they can really bring this experience in the field. But also, they have really good technical skills. And sometimes they also organize some meetings with colleagues in different industries to, to guide us and to give us insights as to how easy it is to be a data science in this industry and having these experiences. What is really interesting.
Dennise Cardona 15:31
What do you love most about the field of data science,
I love the field of data science, because I always loved mathematics. And I remember doing my undergrad degree, I used to learn a lot of abstract notions. And I didn't know the purpose of them. But now that I discovered that a science, for example, machine learning, I was able to see the real application of all these math motions. That didn't make any sense for me back then. And when I see the power of all these motions, I find it amazing and really interesting. So that's why I really love data science, because it's a it's math is applied mathematics to real life.
Dennise Cardona 16:16
How did UMBC's data science program help to make you feel prepared for entering the workforce?
So to my studies at the UMBC data science program, I feel prepared to enter the workforce because I really was able to sharpen my technical skills. And I really think that within those two years program, I can really be competitive in the job market to really stand out among my peers.
Dennise Cardona 16:43
So is there anything else that I haven't asked you that you feel would lend value to this conversation we're having about UMBC? is data science program like maybe to a prospective student who maybe feeling on the fence about? Should I do this? Should I not do this?
So I would say that data science is a really, so it's a big trend today. But if you will love this field, you will have to work hard for that. And there's nothing wrong with putting the hard work for two years. But at the end, it will worth it. So that's my advice.
Dennise Cardona 17:18
I agree. I completely agree. Graduate school is not for the weak minded for the weak hearted, you really have to be a go getter. You have to be somebody who wants to really go out there and change, change your life and change and change other lives. And through the work that you do. And it's it's not something that comes easy. And it shouldn't, because it's something that when you when you're complete with your program, you've earned it.
Exactly. Totally agree with that.
Dennise Cardona 17:45
I want to thank you so much for being part of this conversation today. It's been just a pleasure of being able to talk with you about data science and your experience here at UMBC.
Thank you and I'm really excited to be able to talk about my experiences and my life and the hmbc
Dennise Cardona 18:02
Thank you so much for tuning into this episode of UMBC Mic'd Up podcast. If you'd like to learn more about the graduate programs at UMBC and data science, please visit us at datascience.umbc.edu
Transcribed by https://otter.ai