What do you do?
I build predictive models. Basically that means I use all different kinds of data as examples to "teach" algorithms how to predict what will happen when they see new examples they haven't been shown before. I work with people all over the company, and outside it, to determine what we need to build and how we can add value. Next I figure out how we can use the data, and what algorithm or model will do the job the best. It's a lot of research paired with experimentation. Lastly I work with other teams and develop methods to make sure everyone can use our products. It's different every time.
Why did you choose this field?
I did not always know I wanted to work with computers. Originally I wanted to study the brain and took a class on neural networks taught by a professor who had done so. In the class we reviewed the brain structure and tried to replicate that in a computer. It was everything I wanted. It was problem solving and logic. It was a deep understanding of how things work and why.
Shortly after I began working in a Pharmacy lab and met the woman who would inspire me to get where I am today. She asked hard questions. She knew what she wanted. She called me, and everyone around me, out when they messed up. Most of all she believed in me through it all. She showed me that there are always bumps in the road. There are always mistakes and problems and messes. You can't wait for a time when there aren't any. You have to learn to grow through them all. That's what truly drew me into STEM.
What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?
Working full-time with a team of data scientists who I love. I never thought I would be able to find a community that truly supported my personal growth in industry. It's out there. I wish I had spent more time looking for it than accepting environments that weren't benefiting me.
Why do you love working in STEM?
I love my days when I get to make someone's life better in a way they never expected. That's my favorite part of the innovations that come with technology. Bonus there's always new problems to solve and opportunity to create.
Best advice for next generation?
You are capable, and worthy, of making an impact. Struggling at what you're doing doesn't mean you're not good at it. Some of the best people are the ones who have to invest the most time. Find something you enjoy, not something you can do easily. Don't compare the amount of effort you put in to the amount other's do. Focus on your goals, and do what it takes to get yourself there.
Inspo quote / fun fact / role model
"When you realize it's your responsibility to be a leader and create the world that you want to see, you have to do it." -Janelle Monae