Saturday, April 12, 2014

Week 11 : Zipfian Academy -The Beginning of the End

We started the week wrapping things up with our personal projects, putting together decks for our Hiring Day presentations and doing mock runs of our presentations. Towards mid-week, we did more mock runs and put final touches on our presentation decks.

Hiring Data was pretty hectic. It started off with a short mixer with representatives from the various companies that attended. Each of the companies did a quick presentation on who they were and what they were looking for. Once that was done, we proceeded to presenting each of our projects taking a few questions from the audience at the end of each presentation. There were a lot of really cool projects.

After project presentations and lunch, we had "speed dating" sessions with each of the companies that attended. It was a couple of minutes introducing yourself to the company, hearing what they were looking for and seeing if there's a good fit. It was quite tiring going through 16 or so interviews in the span of two hours but it was a worthwhile experience.

Most of us spent the last day of the week cleaning up and refactoring our project code.

Project Next Steps : I do plan to continue working on my project down the line, making some more improvements to my pipeline, looking at new and richer data sources, asking more interesting questions and doing some more analysis to improve my prediction accuracy. There's still a lot of ground to cover here. I also plan to use Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA) to extract better features from my data as you can pull out really rich and interesting features from your data using topic modeling. My original model used a "bag of words" approach. The eventual goal would be to release this as a web app anyone could use.

Highlights from the week:
  • We started the week with a guest lecture from @itsthomson. He is the founder of He just finished the YC program and had lots of words of wisdom. He walked us through his experience making the transition from academia to Data Science, moving to a Chief Scientist role and now Founder. It's refreshing to hear from someone that has gone through the process. Some quotes from his lecture : "Data is the most offensive (vs defense) resource a company has",.. "In Data Science, you have to know a little of everything",.."Being technical helps, but being convincing is better",.. "Understanding how your analysis ties back to your business / organization is key"
  • We attended a Data Science for Social Good panel event at TaggedHQ. The panelist included CTO - Code for America, CEO - Lumiata, Data Scientist - BrightBytes, Data Scientist - OPower and Lead Data Scientist - These companies are utilizing data science to make a difference. It was a very insightful panel session.
  • Hiring Day was rather interesting. 16 companies attended. The companies came from different verticals including CRM, consulting, social good, social, health, payments, real estate, education and infrastructure. It was interesting hearing some of the problems they were trying to solve in their respective domains


  1. Hi Ike,

    I am Susan, a young Bay Area professional interested in applying to Zipfian Academy. While doing my research on the program, I stumbled on this blog. I am wondering if I can speak with you for a few minutes to learn more about your experiences in this program.

    Thanks in advance for your time,

    1. Sure, that shouldn't be a problem. Let's connect on linkedin