In this edition of One ethos, One culture, our Porto-based Junior Data Scientist, Jorge Ferreira, takes us through his various childhood aspirations and how adapting a natural skill set led him to find his career calling.
Meet Jorge, a Data Scientist in Porto
To infinity and beyond! Navigating my constellation of career choices
Like many others growing up, I had multiple career interests at various points in my life: English Teacher, Translator, Writer, "Abstract Painter", Doctor, Lawyer, Game Developer, and "Space Ranger". The possibilities were infinite; it was just a matter of narrowing them down to the most feasible option. As the years passed, I became more realistic about my career options and decided to pursue my dream of becoming a Space Ranger.
Space technology wasn't developing fast enough, which put a damper on fulfilling my interstellar dreams; undeterred and having plenty of alternatives, I turned to another of my passions: videogames. I always admired the effort of the artists, writers and developers behind my favourite hobby and wanted to follow in their footsteps.
In particular, Eric Barone sparked a great deal of inspiration in this field, single-handedly creating the masterpiece "Stardew Valley" as a computer science graduate with no background in the arts. After seven years of arduous development and learning pixel art from scratch, Barone cemented his legendary status among the indie game community and completed his mammoth task. Proving with ironclad persistence that we always have a chance to achieve our dreams even if the road appears never ending.
Unfortunately, there weren't many Game Development courses in Portugal at the time, so instead, I enrolled in Computer Science, intending to learn the essential building blocks that would help me to achieve my dream.
Picking up the pieces and reassembling my dream
After being accepted into the Computer Science course, I realised I didn't want to pursue it as a career because it didn't exactly go as planned. Though initially disheartening, I discovered I had a knack for maths. Therefore, I decided to change my academic path, completing a First Degree in Mathematics, followed by a Master's in Mathematical Engineering, at the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Porto (FCUP).
In my first year of my Master's, I encountered Data Science after taking a Data Mining class during the second semester. It was a significant turning point, leading me to develop a thesis on early-stage disease detection using medical images and Machine Learning algorithms. I was now determined to pursue a career in Data Science, as I thoroughly enjoyed the process and product of my work in the field.
Andrew Ng was a considerable influence in pursuing Data Science as a career; his technical prowess and relaxed approach to the complexity of my chosen field offered a tremendous confidence boost in realising my potential. I'll never forget his "don't worry about it if you don't understand" quote; it's become a necessary and powerful antidote for the frustration of navigating our field's labyrinthine nature.
My home away from home, just around the corner
Before joining Metyis as a Junior Data Scientist, I worked as a Data Engineer and Visualiser at another company. Though I still appreciate everything I learned there, it became apparent that I wanted something else for my career, so I started searching for alternatives.
What enthuses me about Metyis is that it's a company growing here in Portugal. Being born and raised in Gondomar, five minutes from the new campus, has left a considerable impression on me. It's satisfying to know that now, in my home country, there is a place where people can follow their tech-based dreams.
The amount of Data projects available at Metyis presents excellent growth opportunities for a Junior Data Scientist like me. Being offered guidance is paramount; Metyis excels in that department, and everyone has no problem lending a hand whenever we're facing an obstacle.
Moreover, the project colleagues are amazing human beings who are always willing to help someone with their technical and personal hurdles. The company's internationality is another crucial component in my choice to work here. I find it enlightening to work with people from around the globe.
I love the community-driven spirit everyone at Metyis possesses; even when we all clock out, we have all kinds of team-building events that further cultivate the harmony that Metyis and its people cherish. It is an exceptionally unified environment to undertake technical challenges.
Encounters of the first kind: starting my career at Metyis
The first interaction with a client was in the Digital Spotter project; we were tasked with using data to determine the sales potential of each store where our client was present. I began by shadowing another professional already in the project, which offered a considerable kickstart to my understanding of the technical aspects relevant to my current position as a Data Scientist. After which, I was assigned to a project in the same vein.
It's worth pointing out that my role wasn't limited to the office. The next phase involved fieldwork, auditing the stores' market performance in person. After completing two weeks of sales evaluation, it was time to analyse client data and assess how we could assist them in optimising their business.
It was at this stage that my data journey began. My Spanish colleagues and I leveraged the knowledge we obtained through shadowing, ranging from data analysis to prediction model construction. We extract valuable insights from data to optimise our clients' business decision process and deliver products that will empower them to improve their enterprises considerably.
One of the most valuable achievements and lessons from this project was the knowledge I gained about the plethora of technical tools and tricks of the Data Science trade while also cultivating soft skills like clear communication, working with tight deadlines, problem-solving and above all, teamwork.
Infinity is a loop, returning to my old dreams
I recently started drawing as a hobby, which is interesting, as I'm not a Picasso when it comes to art, but I suppose you never lose some dreams along the journey. I also enjoy writing as therapy as it calms my nerves and helps me organise my thoughts.
Out of the office, I like to keep myself moving by hitting the gym, reading, pursuing Game Development as a hobby, playing and making video games, and, of course, I am still waiting for space technology to develop to the point that makes becoming a Space Ranger possible.