DSI Graduates in High Demand

Zhengyuan Shi
Zhengyuan Shi

The job market for data scientists is great, with the demand for them - an estimated 2.3 million job openings - far outstripping the supply. And those who earn a master’s degrees from the Data Science Institute (DSI) are the beneficiaries of this surging demand. Overall, DSI has a 100 percent job-placement rate, as major employers tend to scoop up graduates quickly. But this winter’s graduating class (December 2017) is especially fortunate in that many had job offers before or shortly after they graduated.

“Our graduates have mastered the most advanced data-science techniques in their classes while completing internships and doing hands-on projects as part of their degree requirements,” says Rachel Fuld Cohen, Assistant Director of Student Services & Career Development at DSI. “This mix of theoretical and applied experience makes graduates of our program very desirable in the data-science job market.”

What follows is a story about a graduate who found a good job just as he graduated from DSI in December 2017. His is just one of several stories about recent DSI graduates and their jobs that’ll be posted during the next few months.


Name: Zhengyuan Shi
Job Title: Programmer Analyst
Company: Walmart: Sam's Technology
City: Dallas, Texas


How’d you get the job?
I first heard about the job from Rachel Cohen, the career services director at DSI, who sent me an email about the opportunity. I applied for the job and a friend of mine who worked there also referred me. One week later, I passed the interview and received the job offer. Rachel had given me a good deal of assistance beforehand. She helped me modify my resume, refine my interviewing skills and showed me how to communicate with DSI alumni for career opportunities.

What data-science techniques might you use on your job?
My team will focus on deep learning and machine learning, which are fairly standard data-science techniques. I am looking forward to starting in a few weeks and learning more.

Did having a master's degree from DSI help you get the job?
Absolutely. Many jobs require a master’s degree. But having a master’s degree in data science is like having certifications in computer science and data science, two fields in very high demand.  As an undergrad, I had studied computational mathematics, which is kind of theoretical. Getting a master's from DSI helped me apply my theoretical knowledge to real-world projects. I learned how to apply data-science skills to solve theoretical and practical problems. I think that’s what helped me find a job as soon as I graduated from DSI.  

You had also had a summer internship. How was that?
I worked as a Data Scientist for Trinnacle Capital Management, a hedge fund in NYC. I had the chance to work with financial data and to help solve some real financial problems. I enjoyed the work, learned a great deal and my colleagues there were all very nice. It also helped me get the job at Walmart because it was one of the things we talked about during my interview.  

What classes at DSI were most helpful to you?
Machine Learning and Applied-Machine learning: The first class helped me learn the theory of machine learning while the second class gave me practical, applied knowledge. Because of this combination I can work on data-science projects with efficiency.  In the Applied-Machine learning course, each homework assignment was like a small project, and we learned how to use machine learning models, natural language processing and deep learning techniques to solve real problems. These two classes were both terrific and I’m sure will help me to perform well at my new job.  

What was the highlight of your time at DSI?
I really enjoyed helping some fellow students with math problems in statistics and algebra. I studied math as an undergrad, so it’s one of of my strong points. As you can imagine, there’s a lot of math in our course load (not only in statistical inference but also in machine learning and algorithms). So I liked helping students who didn’t have a math background understand statistical or algebraic-related problems. I also had many opportunities to work on interesting projects in my classes, such as building a classification-model to analyze traffic complaints and building a neural network model to do text summarization tasks. Those projects allowed me to increase my knowledge of Machine Learning,  Deep Learning and Natural Language Processing.

When you were in China, how did you find out about DSI?
Actually, the Data Science Institute is very well known in China. Columbia University is prominent throughout China, and the Data Science Institute is known for having the best data-science master’s program.

What are your plans for the future?
I want to work at Walmart for some time and learn how data science is used at a major U.S. corporation that amasses enormous amounts of data every day. I am, however, keeping track of the great developments in computer science, data science and artificial intelligence in China. I have not decided exactly what the future holds, but I know that whatever I do having a master’s degree from the Data Science Institute will always be a great asset.

--By Robert Florida

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