On this episode of The Artists of Data Science, we get a chance to hear from Chhavi Arora, one of the rising stars in the data science industry! She gives insight into how she broke into the field, the hurdles she had to overcome in the job search, and how she answered commonly asked questions during an interview.
Chhavi shares with us what got her interested in data science in the first place, along with the biggest self-limiting fear that she had to overcome in order to begin her journey into data science. If you are interested in becoming a data scientist but don’t know where to start, then this episode can answer many of your questions!
Some notable segments from the show
[9:23] The mindset you need to adopt during the job search process
[11:04] How Chhavi overcame her biggest self-limiting belief
[14:58] How to get a leg-up on your competition when applying for jobs
[18:05] Commonly asked questions during interviews, and how to answer them
[24:55] How to prepare questions for the interviewees, and why it’s crucial
Chaavi's Journey into Data Science
Chhavi’s journey into data science began when she volunteered in various NGOs during her undergraduate program. One that was very instrumental for Chhavi was an NGO that focused on children with special needs. Her passion and interest to answer difficult questions began here.
Coincidentally, her statistics professor at the time introduced her to data science and machine learning. Once she found out about this career path, she decided to acquire a master’s in mathematics to build upon the foundation of machine learning.
[3:22] So during my undergrad, as you mentioned correctly, I used to volunteer a lot for a bunch of NGOs, but there was a specific one which catered to a bunch of children with special needs. And they used to conduct different events, social events for them and the students there with special needs, they were the ones who need to step up and perform. And I mean, it just baffled me to see that there's so many things and go around and around us and the world be it on personal level, be on a professional level and so many questions. People want answers for. And I felt I just internally I had this I felt like I found my calling and I felt I would find peace eventually in a career where I can impact the lives of people I work with or who might come in contact with everyday in in one way or another. And coincidentally, it was during my undergrad so my statistic professor has been in touch with me for just understanding a lot. And he he in fact introduced data science to me. And that is that as a first time, I heard of the whole idea of machine learning and how it has been used in a variety of formats to help people around. And I just realized that this is this is the career I wanted to build for myself. And that is when I decided to do a masters in mathematics, because mathematics is the foundation for machine learning, no matter what, no matter how much you code, it is the essence of it. So I just wanted to have a very strong foundation to begin with. And that is that is the whole idea of why I eventually decided to be a data scientist. So it goes all all the way back there.
Key takeaways from the episode
[9:29] Having a growth mindset is absolutely crucial when it’s time to begin applying to jobs as a data scientist. There is so much competition now, and getting your foot in the door is becoming increasingly challenging. >Having the growth mindset allows you to navigate through the rejections and continuously learn from them.
Biggest self-limiting belief to overcome
[11:04] Take pride in any gaps of unemployment in your life. Rather than thinking these gaps will bog you down, think about the positive benefits these gaps may have had in your life. Make sure to speak about these positives during your interview, and the interviewee will notice your honesty and confidence.
Chhavi and I go through a mini mock interview where we touch on some commonly asked behavioural interview questions and her responses to them, this starts at the [18:05] mark of the show.
Tell me about yourself
I always begin this answer by talking about my superpower. My biggest superpower is my determination and a desire to learn.
Can you describe a time when you had to deal with competing priorities and with competing deadlines?
Make a to do list to define specific tasks that would come under each of the projects. Then speak to the stakeholders for each of the projects and to try to understand the impact of both of them.
What's the most difficult type of person to deal with and how do you deal with them?
I think the most difficult type of person to deal with are the people who are a little too adamant in their choice of approach and who take it with a difficulty if a new approach to a task is suggested.
So walk me through your discovery process when you're starting a new project.
Get out a pen and paper and write down the following questions:
Why am I doing this project?
What sort of questions am I actually trying to solve from this project?
What impact will this project bring to the business?
Do you have any questions for us?
For this question, make sure you prepare by reading any public information that is available on the company you're interviewing at. Then, ask HR questions as many questions as you can. From the insights you gather with your HR interviewee, frame appropriate questions for the rest of your interview.
How to network with people on LinkedIn:
Make sure that your first message to a person is about them, not about you. Please don't talk about how amazing you are, how many skills you have, how much education you have, etc. Instead, focus on talking points regarding what you learned from this person.
[6:39] “...every project you do as a data scientist needs to be something that you have interest in so that you know what questions you are looking for and you will eventually find answers to your work.”
[12:46] “...every little weakness that you think you have can become a positive thing if you spin the story right.”
[17:16] “...the most important thing is to never, never stop being passionate about data science...because the learning never stops.”
The one thing that Chhavi Arora wants you to learn from her story
[28:58] The most important thing about my story is my passion. I take a lot of pride in how passionate I am about being a data scientist, and just about everything else that I do. Know that passion is the only way to go.
From the lightning round
From the lightning round
Where do you see yourself in 5 year?
Chhavi envisions herself in a leadership role as a data science manager.
Have faith in yourself.
Advice that Chhavi would give to her18 year old self
“Made to Stick” by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
How you can connect with Chhavi Arora
Connect with Chhavi on LinkedIn.