By Gianfausto Bottini:
Data Scientist at e-geos, Italy – Former participant of the School of AI
I fell in love with data when I began my master’s degree in Data Science. Stepping into that very first class almost felt like stepping into uncharted territory—suddenly, I felt curious, awake, and eager to start. Cut to 5 years later, and I am now a Data Scientist working in the field of Space and Defense within the Leonardo Group, one of the biggest companies in Italy. Before that, however, I had a life-changing experience at Pi School, where I joined the very 1st edition of their School of Artificial Intelligence. Once again, I found myself in something entirely new, and it felt right.
“This first in-depth experience with Artificial Intelligence made me realize that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.”
Granted, it is, to this day, very difficult to get into the School of AI. There are only a few seats available and hundreds of applicants. The lucky ones who do get selected are assigned an international colleague, a project, and top-class mentors from the industry. The school is essentially Disney World for Data Scientists. There: hard work, AI, and fun became part of my motto. I learned to see things from a different perspective, which, in turn, enhanced my understanding of different stakeholders. The most significant takeaway from my time at the school is that truly effective results can only be achieved through a joint effort between the client and the data scientist. The most accurate model means nothing if you are unable to explain it. To make your project work, you need to create something that people need, in a way that people understand.
My approach to new Data Science projects has undoubtedly seen some changes over time. It has gone from a very academic and perfectionist point of view to one more interested in the broader perspective of the entire flow. All these passages leading up to the release of an application do not only require expertise in Data Science but in Data Engineering, Software Engineering, and market demand. Take my word for it: if you want to be a happy Data Scientist, don’t just look at Data Science—an AI-powered application is far from being just AI.
If you find yourself in a company that has only just recently begun introducing AI techniques, you will often feel misunderstood. People will see you as the one in charge of ideas even when you have—well—virtually none. You will deal with a lot of people who do not quite understand AI or its role. In a sense, it’s like surfing a big wave: you have to work hard to remain on it, and even when you do eventually feel safe, you still can’t stop. The key to success here is to enjoy the ride and do your best to enlighten and impress others as well as yourself. You need to keep raising the bar! Join Data Science communities and maybe even some hackathons. I’ve learned more in some of those than I have during entire days at the office.
I believe that the happiest Data Scientists are those who explore as much as they can—those who work in different domains; those who learn something new every day; those who help others with their ideas. Do you realize that surgical procedures today can rely on mechanical arms powered by AI? That there is a whole industry of autonomous cars? How cool is that?! Whenever I say it out loud, I remember that I have one of the most exciting and innovative jobs out there, and I cannot wait to see what’s next. AI is such a new and powerful wave. Your ideas can change the world forever.
Marco Trombetti, the co-founder of Pi School and the best mentor I have ever had, once said: “Take decisions that will make you proud.” I keep this in mind whenever I have to make an important decision in my professional life. I hope it can guide you, as well, on becoming a happy Data Scientist.
Data Scientist at e-geos, Italy