Career Change – From Management Consultant to ML Engineer 

Published
Sep 9, 2021
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Career change - Omdena

A career change success story that will inspire you to take the leap and motivates your mindset in your artificial intelligence career path. In this article, César will take you through the process he went through to get started in machine learning, how he relied on Omdena to do it, and some guidelines and tips to succeed in your first challenge.

Author: César Tinoco 

Introduction

When we live in a routine and we are under the impression that we have a defined course by the simple fact of the stereotypes we know throughout our lives, it is quite complex and scary to even think about innovating our professional path by acquiring a new skill or even looking to make a radical change and dedicate ourselves to something 100% different. These are moves that require a lot of guts and where passion and self-knowledge play a very important role. 

In my case, all my training and professional experience have always been related to business administration, I think what I like most about it is the focus on problem-solving and the constant search for the optimization of resources to get the most out of less. A fairly typical career pattern to follow with a business background is of course management consulting, and just that pattern was the one I followed. Yes, I have spent most of my professional life in consulting, and I have no regrets, it is something I enjoy doing. 

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, I decided to restructure my personal and professional life goals. I think we have all flirted with the idea of doing that and for me, it was a perfect time. 

After so many months of routine this pause to the lifestyle I was used to, led me to reflect a bit on what I want to do with my life and what I need to start doing something new, being in quarantine implied some free time so it was the perfect time to do something else so I decided to take up a subject I always started but never followed due to lack of time: Python programming.

That’s how it all started. 

All my life I had been attracted to computer-related topics, coding, and the like but I hadn’t had the determination to take it seriously and take the first step. I consider that this is the hardest part because the more you advance the easier it becomes. Well, at least more than at the beginning because obviously, this path will always involve many challenges.

What career change is right for me?

You can start by asking yourself what careIf there’s one thing that catches my attention it’s learning new things, I’m the kind of person that you can see watching cooking tutorials one day and tutorials on how to play the harmonica the next. One thing I always enjoyed about consulting was the exposure to new projects and situations to learn from and apply my knowledge to. 

Management consulting could be defined as a practice to help solve administrative and business problems in all types of organizations. It is a very broad field of work in which you can learn a lot thanks to the variety of projects you work with, there will always be a new situation in our day to day. 

Career change - Omdena

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One other thing that struck me about management consulting, was its focus on continuous improvement and research. Practically as a consultant, you become a scientist looking for the formula for success to solve the business problem that is put in front of you. 

There are no silver bullets. It all depends on the circumstances in which you find yourself, the resources you have, and the knowledge you have regarding these last two points. With the help of some frameworks, management techniques, and a bit of intuition the consultant will find a way to solve the situation in an appropriate way. Consulting provides very good tools for professional and even personal life. (Try to organize a trip with a consultant, you will realize that they will always try to optimize resources.)

A consultant usually implements skills ranging from communication and presentation of ideas to analysis and solution of complex problems. Honestly, the consultant’s approach to daily life is quite enriching, it’s like a combination of a very analytical person and a dreamer. At least that’s how I see it.

In the same way, the mindset a consultant usually has and the problem-solving approach leads you to be aware of the latest technologies under the premise that to be competitive you have to know how to adapt, thanks to this I became more and more interested in Industry 4.0 topics, Artificial Intelligence is the most attractive to me. 

Why career change into Artificial Intelligence?

Artificial intelligence could be defined simply as systems that emulate human intelligence to perform tasks with the ability to improve their performance based on the data being generated. Yes, it sounds like something very futuristic, and it is within our reach with just a few clicks we could start creating our first model.  

Today, artificial intelligence and machine learning is a trend in all professional contexts as it helps us to quickly solve problems of all kinds, becoming a more efficient working tool so I sense that in the future this knowledge will be as important as it is now to know how to use a computer.

In that way, I decided to get involved in the world of artificial intelligence to enrich my knowledge and be able to offer something more to what I already know in the field of business. Maybe a career change. It turns out that artificial intelligence has much to offer to all types of organizations for problem-solving and management in general.

Career change - Omdena

Source: Unsplash

My focus was mainly on turning the topic of artificial intelligence into a complement to my training, and well, who knows, maybe in the future I will do something interesting with these new skills.

Artificial intelligence is a field that has been changing over time and will continue to do so. I am convinced that in the future we will leverage a lot of these technologies to do our work and increase performance by delegating to the machine many tasks that we used to do ourselves.

Very interesting, right? That’s how my interest was born. Doing my research to learn more about artificial intelligence is how I got to know Omdena and all it has to offer. 

Before submitting my application to Omdena I tried to do some test projects so I wouldn’t draw a blank. I guess they were a great help but I didn’t know what to expect exactly, the best way to put these skills into practice is in a real project.

The opportunity Omdena has for us

When we are just starting to learn a new skill, it is difficult to find a way to gain real experience with it, and even less so if it is not your background or your field of study, I think some of you have been there. 

There are few ways to get that experience we need so much and many times that lack of experience is what does not allow us to advance as much as we would like in our professional path, the topic of artificial intelligence is no exception.  

Artificial intelligence and data analysis are topics about which you can simply learn on the internet due to the number of resources that exist to do so, from videos on youtube channels to more specialized websites There seems to be a lot of free information to learn about it, but there are few opportunities to put it into practice in a real project when you have little experience.

More than anything else Omdena is a community as well as a collaborative platform for creating solutions for organizations with artificial intelligence. Omdena offers a great opportunity for all those who would like to have their first experience in the field of artificial intelligence although the hard part is not getting in, the hard part is staying in.

Career change - Omdena

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We must understand the magnitude of the opportunity Omdena has for us, we are allowed to be anything from collaborators to task leaders regardless of our level of experience. How cool is that? While there are no solid requirements to join, there are solid requirements to stay in the challenge and those requirements are called results. 

The results we are giving are everything in these challenges, that is why it is a very attractive opportunity for all those warriors who are passionate about a topic and do not let go until they get the most out of it and learn as much as possible. 

If you consider yourself a hard worker, a team player, and a communicator, you can be sure that your performance will be above average regardless of your level of experience in the field.

Succeeding in Omdena

As with everything else, to be successful within a community it is a must to know the guidelines that govern it to know what we must abide by to do things right. Omdena is characterized for having a series of very notorious guidelines in its work culture, which we should know before participating in any of its projects.

Source: Unsplash

In general terms, the basic guidelines for Omdena’s cooperation are as follows

Bottom-up collaboration

Everyone is free to put their ideas into action to address the problem, it is a must to have the determination to contribute proactively. In this type of project, no one is going to tell you to do it or pressure you.

Transparent communication

In general terms, open communication is required through the group’s communication channels, which means that personal messages are not part of Omdena’s work culture. Therefore it is necessary to be inclusive of all team members when seeking to generate discussion; technically, private messages do not count as collaboration. This approach facilitates teamwork and team bonding in many ways. 

Active participation is required

Our participation during an Omdena project is measured from the number of messages we publish in the channels to our contributions to the code. We must pay due attention to this point since it is here that we define who will stay and who will go.

These guidelines are actually quite simple to follow and are well suited for each participant to follow in his or her own way. That’s the coolest part. 

There is no magic formula to succeed in an Omdena project, however, I can make some recommendations that can guide you on your way as a participant in the challenge:

1. Never have doubts, ask questions, and do your research.

I think this is a very relevant topic, we tend to stay with doubts for fear of asking and for fear of giving the impression that we have not paid enough attention to the instructions, communication is a key part of this kind of challenges and that is why we should try to do it whatever it takes, even if it is our comfort zone.

2. Help others along the way, collaboration is important.

Rest assured that whenever you need help there will always be someone to give it to you. Likewise, if someone needs help, it’s necessary to be there to give it. This is how it works, mentoring other team members is highly appreciated in the community as it generally facilitates the work environment and accelerates results at the technical level, the whole team must remain contributing, so we solve problems faster and more efficiently. 

3. Always seek to give your contribution, no matter how small it may be, offer yourself and raise your hand.

Proactivity is key, it is necessary to keep that in mind. Never close yourself to anything and always look for new ways of doing things.

Conclusion

A change in your career path is never an easy task, it is crucial to be determined about what you want to do and make sure it is something that matches your vision. For those who have the desire to start a career in artificial intelligence or complement what they already have with artificial intelligence, Omdena is a good start.

In the end, our participation in the challenge will be measured by the contributions we make to it. We can contribute our part through an opinion, resources, code, whatever is good. Remember that this is teamwork, the most relevant thing is productivity and the ability to communicate and agree with team members.

What are you waiting for to join the community?

Apply for a project you find attractive and develop your experience.

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