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Fast Track Data/AI Case Study: Oliver Johnson

Oli Johnson joined the Fast Track Data/AI Programme in January 2021. It was a unique time as it was the first Programme we had launched entirely remotely due to the pandemic.

Six months on he tells us how he’s found working in the world of Data and AI and his advice for future Graduates.

Tell us about yourself

“I have an integrated master’s degree in Mathematics from University of Bath. I almost exclusively covered Abstract Algebra, Linear Algebra and Computer Science. My final year project was on Representation Theory of Quivers.

I was always enthusiastic about data science since I began looking for jobs post-graduation. Eventually, the only jobs I searched for were all relating to data.

The Fast-Track programme was a great opportunity to get my foot in the door and construct the base of my data science portfolio.”

What was your level of proficiency in coding / analytics before joining the programme?

It was quite advanced. I chose just about every single optional module from the Computer Science department available to maths undergrads. I even got permission in my final year to do some computer science modules not available to mathematics students normally!

I had extensively programmed in data science languages like Python and R and had a module on Artificial Intelligence covering a lot of Machine Learning. I just needed a proper qualification and the real-world experience.

Tell us about your placement and what your role involves.

I’m a Graduate Data Scientist at amber energy. My team is Energy Analytics – we analyse Electricity & Gas consumption data of our clients, with the overall goal of reducing it (or preventing it from increasing). In doing so, we reduce the energy costs to our clients, as well as their carbon emissions!

My personal project is an investigation into the main energy drivers of the hospitality industry – my dataset is site data coupled with consumption data for nearly 200 restaurants and bars in the UK, all belonging to clients of amber.

Amber is only a small business and needs people who understand not just data but also technology. They are constantly growing and changing – so be prepared to ride to wave!

How have you developed your technical and professional skills during the Programme?

Before the Programme, my theoretical knowledge of data science had many gaps and my practical experience was non-existent. Now, after only 8 months, I will have a PGDip qualification in data and 7 months experience directly within a data-driven team. That’s a win in my books.

What has been the highlight of the Programme for you?

My placement amber energy has been my first ever job in a professional setting – it’s been quite a new experience for me. Every day I learn more about how a consultancy operates and discover the key opportunities for growth and success that lie in the world of business.

What advice would you give a graduate applying for the next Programme?

They tell you it will be intense and fully mean so – if you are not already a programming wizard, then it will be challenging. It’s very possible for you to be completely occupied with your placement and fall behind on the university learning – I have a relevant background and still must sacrifice about one weekend in every four. You can, however, pat yourself on the back once it’s all over because you’ve covered an entire PGDip in only 8 months.

Where do you hope to be at the end of the Programme?

As I would expect similarly of my cohort, I plan to take one section of data science – Natural Language Processing, for example – and build a career around it.

The programme doesn’t make you an expert on all things data, but it does give you a very solid base and the resources to continue teaching yourself. I would then one day hope to then freelance my skills as a data scientist. I can’t stand early mornings, like many people who opt to be self-employed.

Good luck Oli and thanks for sharing your experience!