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Ayon’s world of ML, AI and Data Science

Ayon Roy always believed in out-of-the-box ideas and that is exactly what helped him climb up the ladder. Be it hackathons, Kaggle or tech meet-ups, Ayon is there to share and gain knowledge. Though he says future is all about Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, he cautions students about the perils involved if one is obsessed about them. It’s not about what you pick or what you aspire to be, but what matters is what you are passionate about.

In a must-read piece for students and potential job-seekers, Ayon narrates his journey so far. If you are looking for some plain-talk, go ahead and read.

Knowledge is nothing if NOT shared.

Nothing becomes real until it is experienced. From childhood, that fact has been motivating me in many ways to try out new things in life. It was such a relentless pursuit for knowledge that made me bring Kaggle Days Meetups for the first time in India in June 2019.

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Going back to my school days, I wanted to make an impact in society, but frankly, I didn’t have many skills apart from the academic skills. Yes, I topped Mathematics exam of 12th CBSE exam with 98/100 and in total 92.4%. My interest in current affairs and general knowledge spurred me to down my views on the things that I loved to which eventually led me to publish a yearbook series titled Excelsior.

While I entered my college, I was already aware (at least a bit) of the industry happenings about Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML). This little awareness gave me clarity about which domain I should pursue for my future. Then started my journey to explore Machine Learning, Data Science & Artificial Intelligence. It was only then I realized that I was only interacting with my laptop only with an active internet connection, but I found the missing link of a community to learn together. Though there were many people ready to offer help, somewhere a strong link was missing. I took an initiative called 100 Days of ML where ML enthusiasts come together and devote at least 1 hour a day to learn and dive deeper into ML. I even developed a coursework which a beginner can refer to get started with ML. It can be found at - (Click here). This initiative helped 3,950+ people who came over the Telegram group that I initiated for the same and had constructive discussion to learn together.

After I got more familiar with ML and the other technologies like AI and Data Science, I thought of participating in hackathons as it will help me test my skills. Besides, it also helps me to learn how to collaborate with people in a team. That journey started with the participation of 15+ hackathons (both offline and online) with a lot of failures and a lot of lessons. While I was participating in hackathons, I realized the pain of finding appropriate team members in respective fields. That’s why I initiated Hackthonistas, a place where you can just drop a message stating your interest to participate in a hackathon and which skills you are looking for in your teammates. This initiative too got an awesome response of 1,400+ people and I am planning to launch a fully functional website. The beta version for the same is available at- (Click here).

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Lately, I started exploring Kaggle as a platform after I came to know that it’s an awesome place to learn and participate in some of the best competitions of ML, Data Science, etc.

Soon I started exploring Kaggle as a platform, but I faced difficulties. Then I tried to reach the people who could guide me further about Kaggle. I approached Kaggle Days team, which is responsible for organizing country-wise and city- wise networking sessions for Kaggle enthusiast

As I mentioned in the beginning, that’s how I brought Kaggle Days Meetup for the first time in India and now it has expanded to Delhi NCR, Bangalore and Mumbai. Let me proudly say I am the co-organizer for Delhi-NCR Kaggle Days Meetup.

This has really given me the exposure to see how networking in a community helps you grow because my journey from a boy, who was an introvert to a confident person, who is now no longer afraid to speak his mind at places like JNU.

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Alongside, I have started delivering talks, and involving hands-on coding sessions regarding these topics at some of the prestigious places like International Centre of Genetic Engineering (JNU ) etc. As I was undergoing courses in ML, AI, Data Science, many suggested me to take up projects on a personal level as well as at an organizational level with companies like Uber, etc.

Doing internships at startups like Matelabs, Bengaluru and at a few other places have helped me shape my career journey. Hence I am looking forward to more such opportunities where I can grow myself and help others grow as well. Recently, I was able to reach around 46,000 people to connect them with certain internships & hackathon opportunities. Getting a message of thanks from these people stating that they bagged an internship opportunity or stood first in the hackathons that I shared makes me really happy. If society is happy, you are ought to be happy.

Having spent considerable time and worked closely with teams, I can offer some advice to the young generation:

  • Speak Less, Listen More. Become a better listener
  • Don’t stop yourself from sending the first message on Linkedin to any person who you think can help you.
  • Don’t hesitate to apply for your first internship, hackathon. As once you apply, you get addicted to applying for the same with more and more opportunities.
  • Be happy and spread happiness
  • Utilize your weekends by attending something cool ( Eg: Meetups )
  • Be a creative and lateral thinker.
  • See the future through the lens of experience
  • Learn more, share more & develop more.
  • Master the art of Communication, Leadership, Collaboration, Time Management
  • Focus on consistency, not intensity.
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A quick chat with Ayon Roy

For a beginner, how do you explain the process behind something called Kaggle? How does it help someone find the right job or opportunities?

For a person who is starting with Data Science, ML and want to build a future in these domains, Kaggle serves as an excellent learning playground. It’s the perfect platform to explore new things in respective fields and will help you improve your skills. Kaggle is an excellent way to practise, but it focuses narrowly on concepts that you may use 30-40% of the time in a real project. It will definitely give you an advantage in your interviews, but whether you'll get interviews in the first place will depend largely on your business & domain experience too. Don't read me wrong, do not count on Kaggle alone to get your interviews in top tier companies.

Perhaps The next generation of students will find in tough to get traditional or conventional jobs. Is it time we turned our focus more on AI and ML? Is that the future?

A bit tricky to answer, but yes, at last, it all comes down to the domain that you are passionate about. As in my case, it’s AI, ML and Data Science. The best way to figure out the domain in which you want to see yourselves after 3-4 years is to explore every domain like Website Development, Android Development, AI or Game Development. Choose the domain that fascinates you the most and the domain which have the best learning curve for you. Today we chase AI, ML because it has too much hype but we forget to focus on our interest and learning rate. If you love something and are passionate about it, you can be the best in any domain and have a secured future.

How important are Hackathon sessions? There is an increasing trend where students bunk colleges and classes but more interested in attending such sessions. What’s your take?

I am a part of that trend myself. So definitely my take would be to encourage people to attend Hackathon sessions because those 24- plus hours can make you learn things that you might not have learnt otherwise if you were at home or college. Hackathons help you - to LEARN new things
- to BUILD something cool
- to meet new people
- to meet recruiters
- to get FREE FOOD
- to get FREE SWAG (Developers live for them. LOL)

(College might give you first four things at some scale, obviously not on a par with Hackathons; but last things are the things that I love in any Hackathon. Haha )

What, as per you, is the role that communities play in shaping one's career these days? Is it that you spend enough time identifying the right community and then start your learning process or do you first identify what you want to learn and then identify the right community for that?

Community Learning has been the key to my holistic development because here you know deep down that, you belong to-
1) Something bigger than yourself
2) Something that would always be there to support you
3) Something that will help you stay on the ground and keep running even when you doubt yourself and your skills.

Obviously it’s very important to decide which community to join, do a little research about what the community is actually doing and see the opportunities where you can learn & contribute; because that’s the important point for being in any community. Helping someone in a community helps you grow too because we are here to learn together, contribute together and grow together.

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If there are five habits which helped you reach where you are currently, what would those be?

  • Communicating with people without fear (Of course Face to Face gives you the best experience to learn and explore). Don’t shy to ask people for help.
  • Collaborating with others as it makes me learn how to work & win as a team.
  • Sharing your knowledge by teaching others. It is the best way you can help society and help yourself to grasp the knowledge more effectively.
  • Participating in Hackathons, Meetups, Conferences. You can easily find me in any of these on the weekends around New Delhi, Gurugram, Noida, etc..
  • Reading a lot on Medium and Linkedin.

Ayon is studying Computer Science Engineering at Bhagwan Parshuram Institute of Technology, Delhi.

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