Looking back at the past semester, it’s amazing to see how much I’ve learned and grown as a person. I had such a great opportunity to be a part of this practicum course and to work with a communicative and supportive team. My team and I were able to work with a client that gave us a real-life situation that was very ambiguous about automated models and natural language processing. I learned a lot about solving this situation with my teammates, and it definitely challenged me to step out of my comfort zone. There were times where we did not feel as confident about our abilities, and we were not sure if we would come up with a solution that would please the client. However, as we researched more about the client’s situation, we dived deeper into the challenge, changed the scope of our project a few times, and delivered a meaningful solution.
In the business world, I am aware that there will always be ambiguous challenges where I will be unsure where to exactly start. I learned that asking questions is a very important step to understanding and gaining more knowledge about what I am trying to solve. The client appreciated us asking more questions about the data, and they also ensured to not be afraid to ask. However, we noticed over time that we spent a lot of time trying to understand the data rather than solving the issue. It took a few weeks for us to research information and begin going into the right direction. Eventually, we took the next step to research automation models, natural language processing, and learn coding ourselves.
Throughout this challenge, I had to be a fast learner and I noticed how little time that we had with this project in reality. In a future job, I can expect this same sort of fast-paced environment since it has also helped me learn about time management. I also learned that it’s important to prioritize certain tasks over others. For example, my team and I should have done primary research earlier than secondary research. We realized this too late and ended up having to do this part during spring break. In the future, I hope to be able to take the situation into my own hands earlier and prioritize more important solving methods in order to narrow down to the best solution.
Since I did not have as many technical skills and have never had experience with automation or natural language processing, it was also definitely a challenge teaching these concepts to myself. I used DataCamp to learn how to code, and I eventually had to use Python and a natural language processing tool with the client’s data. I will definitely expect to use more technical skills in the future since I will have to learn many new things in the work world. I hope to continue learning about emerging technologies, artificial intelligence, and more coding.
Apart from improving in time management, learning more technical skills, and communicating consistently with the team and client, I believe the most important lesson from this experience was that there will always be fast changes and that it’s okay to change the scope of the project as everyone is in a learning process. I had to learn to adapt to these fast-paced changes and any technical difficulties that occurred. I am always learning and will continue to push myself to learn more. I have become more confident in my abilities since I had the opportunity to solve this real-life situation, and I know that I will be able to use these skills in the future.