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Data Science Immersive Program

Derrick Lim Ting Ying

Derrick Lim Ting Ying started his journey into tech out of curiosity and zeal to improve his decision-making skills. He took the big step, quit his job with the Singapore Ministry of Finance, and enrolled in General Assembly for its Data Science Immersive program.

During his time at the bootcamp, he enjoyed the practical classes, capstone projects, and support from the career team. Now a Data Analyst at TikTok, Derrick is grateful he took the bold step to switch into tech. Read on as he shares his story with Career Karma.

Tell us about your background. What were you doing before attending the program?

I was a civil servant working in the Fiscal Policy Directorate within Singapore’s Ministry of Finance (MOF). In my time at MOF, I was part of the team that oversees the strategic aspect of Singapore’s fiscal policies. I was also privileged to be part of the implementation team that oversaw the delivery of the [national] Budget 2020 scheme, which provided targeted assistance to a particular group of Singaporeans.

What motivated you to explore a new career or upskill in your existing field, and why did you decide to pick this program? 

I was first exposed to evidence-based decision-making during my time at MOF. Fascinated by my experience, I researched further into the field of data science, and I realized that data science is similar to what I had learned as an economist back in university days—regression, time series, and forecasting, among others.

As companies rapidly embrace the use of data to drive business decisions, having the relevant training in the field of data would serve to value-add and future-proof my career. I assessed various data science bootcamps, then finally chose General Assembly. That was after I spoke to several graduates and learned about GA’s track record of cultivating tech talents since 2011.

How did you finance your education, and what were some of your biggest considerations when making this choice?

As a beneficiary of [Singapore’s] Infocomm Media Development Agency’s (IMDA) Tech Immersion and Placement Programme (TIPP), my tuition fee was heavily subsidized.

What did you like about the program? Are there any highlights that stood out to you?

General Assembly had a comprehensive curriculum to educate its students on some of the latest and most relevant data science techniques used by the industry.

The bi-weekly projects and capstone assignment, albeit stressful and demanding, allowed me to compile a professional-grade portfolio of codes and presentations to showcase to prospective employers.

How did you fit the program into your schedule?

Since the course was conducted full-time over a three-month period, I had to take a leap of faith and leave my full-time position with MOF to attend the course. While this decision was slightly daunting at the start, it proved to be the right one in hindsight.

Can you give us any examples of projects that you worked on during the program?

For my capstone assignment, I built an image classifier model to classify Singapore’s 12 most famous [street] food. I used convolutional neural networks and transfer learning. I achieved a test accuracy score of 82.8 percent.

Do you have any advice for someone considering this program?

Be clear about your motivations and options when considering a career switch into the data science field. Once you have decided and enrolled in the course, join with an open heart, learn as much as you can, and just go with the flow.

Did you find a new position after the program?

I found a new job.

How did the program support you in finding a job?

The Data Science Immersive Program with General Assembly provides its students with a comprehensive understanding of some of the latest and most relevant data science techniques currently used in the industry. 

The bi-weekly projects and capstone assignment also meant that we would graduate with a professional-grade portfolio comprising codes and presentations to showcase our skills to prospective employers. The course also provided regular career advice (even after graduation) from professional coaches to guide our applications and introduce us to prospective employers.

Was the job search process different from what you expected?

Yes, especially since I came from the Civil Service [sector] where the whole interview process was more traditional. For the tech firms that I interviewed with, their application process tends to have three to four rounds of interviews with different stakeholders and an online coding test to assess one’s technical skills in Python and SQL.

How are the skills you gained from the course useful in your current career?

The skills I acquired at the Data Science Immersive Program with General Assembly provided me with a strong foundation in my preparation for the online technical assessments, which was part of the job application process.

Thanks to the training, I can work with large and complex databases or datasets with relative ease. I am also able to extract valuable insights that may be useful in making informed business decisions.

Do you have any job search advice for someone considering a career in your field?

In the field of technology, things can be rather fluid and change very quickly. Thus, it is important that a person is adaptable, always learning, improving, and keeping updated with the latest developments.

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