Meet Sartaj Alam from Expedia

At INSAID, we create accomplished and empowered Data Leaders. We groom our students to dominate the world of Data Science and Artificial Intelligence and reshape their future. We value what our students bring to the table. We share their vision and support them during their journey and ensure that they carve a niche for themselves.

We’re proud to have tutored exceptional students all across India. Today, one such exceptional student, Sartaj Alam stands in the spotlight.

Student Name:  Sartaj Alam
Batch: GCD – August 2018
Total years of experience: 4 years
Area of expertise: Big Data

Malvika: Hi Sartaj, can you walk me through your professional journey so far?

Sartaj: So far, I’ve worked for three companies including HCL Technologies and Amdocs. Currently, I’m working at Expedia as a Senior Data Analyst. I work on Big Data & AWS stack. Previously, it was PL/SQL and Linux.

Malvika: What got you interested in Data Science and Machine Learning?

Sartaj: I got interested in Data Science because of its omnipresence. It is inevitable how Data Science will take over industries and businesses. Also, the work is really challenging and quite to my liking. I volunteered for a project to estimate hotel pricing. That was my first exposure to Data Science projects and it got me hooked.

Malvika: Are there any Data Science and Machine Learning trends that you’re interested in?

Sartaj: I’m quite fascinated by image processing I lately. Recently, I was watching a video where they used images from general traffic to identify the number plates of cars. That was an application that I connected with.

Malvika: Are there any Data Scientists or Artificial Intelligence influencers that you’re following?

Sartaj: I follow Vincent in the Artificial Intelligence space and Andrew Ng for Data Science. They have very informative materials and the libraries they use are amazing. So while that comes in handy, I’d say they’re the cream of learning.

Malvika: Do you read any blogs in the Data Science space?

Sartaj: There are a lot of blogs and interesting pieces of content that keep coming up every now and then. If I were to say which ones I’m regular with, then Data Science journal definitely stands out.

Malvika: Sartaj, were there any initial challenges that you faced when you began your journey in this space. How did you overcome them?

Sartaj: Since I’m an Engineer, all my statistics knowledge was from school. I was not in touch with statistics for years. So I had trouble revising it, it was like learning everything from scratch. 

Malvika: Do you have any piece of advice for a newbie in Data Science and Machine Learning?

Sartaj: I would say that it will take 6-7 months to get started with this. Don’t rush with your learning. For like 8 months, I was not aware of the Kaggle platform but 2 months ago, I submitted my entry to a Kaggle competition. Once you get started, get into the flow. Spend 1-2 hours daily to maintain the flow.

Malvika: That’s great! Do you want to talk about the Kaggle competition that you participated in?

Sartaj: Sure. The competition is on the lines of content moderation, still ongoing. It was based on Google AI conversation. There was data from comments and all the local conversation people had to be evaluated. We had to identify inappropriate and racist conversations. It was ranked to a scale of 10, below five was a negative conversation. So we used LSTM and NLP approach for classifying those comments. We have submitted that kernel but the competition isn’t closed yet.

Malvika: What are some machine learning tools and packages that interest you?

Sartaj: As of now I’m quite comfortable with Pandas, Numpy and Keras. There are a lot of libraries to learn from but I feel positive about my comfort level with these three. 

Malvika: At INSAID, students are encouraged to build high-quality Github profiles. Have you built a Github portfolio and how do you think this will help you? 

Sartaj: Yeah, I have created both GitHub and Kaggle profiles. So whatever code I’m writing, project I’m working or building. I can upload it all there. This way people can look up and can replicate as well. Currently, I’m working on a project to generate locations from IP addresses. That is something I’m looking forward to sharing as well.

Malvika: Crafting a great Data Science resume is a critical part of getting shortlisted for Data Science roles. Can you tell me some ways in which you have improved your resume as a part of Data Science Career Launchpad?

Sartaj: The session gave me a direction to build a master resume and customized ones. I have created three resumes for myself. This way you can really leverage your skills right for every job opportunity. 

Malvika: INSAID’s mission is to groom Data Leaders of tomorrow. What do you understand by a Data Leader? How do you think a Data Leader is different from a Data Scientist?

Sartaj: Data Scientist is someone who gets his hands dirty with algorithms and data-sets. Data Leader is a visionary. He takes decisions based on the vision and needs of the business. He guides Data Scientists based on the business problems. Data Scientists will be subordinate to data leaders in that respect.

Malvika: These are all the questions I have for you today. Thank you for sharing your time with us. Good luck for the future, Sartaj!

Sartaj: Thank you, Malvika!

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