MSc Data Science - Luke Walker

Luke Walker left UEA in 2021 with an MSc in Data Science. We spoke about what drew him to the course, the skills he has gained, and the role he has lined up with Aviva.

What drew you to UEA?

I actually did an undergraduate at UEA as well, so I did the undergraduate Computer Science.

I'm kind of local to UEA so it was just an easy move for me to go, from leaving Coventry to come to UEA. With the pandemic that happened I was looking for something to do in that year, so I just decided to do a Master’s that way. I didn't realise I’d enjoy it as much as I did.

What made you want to study MSc Data Science specifically?

I enjoyed the Computer Science undergraduate, but my history is mostly in maths so it was about moving back towards that without giving up the computing altogether.

It seemed like the best opportunity for me to use both parts of what I've learned throughout my education. Data Science was a nice happy medium between statistics and maths, which is what I grew up doing, and the computer science which I learned in my undergraduate.

What was your favourite thing about the course?

The fact that it was more self-directed. I picked modules that I wanted to learn, whereas the undergraduate wasn't as flexible.

So there were a lot of modules that I did that were compulsory or I changed because there wasn't much other selection available. The Master’s course was very tailored and the reason I was there was because I chose specifically data science rather than the advanced computing one. It was just a bit freer. I've enjoyed that I was doing things I wanted to do.

Were there any particular skills that you've learned on the Data Science course that you think will help you make that next step into the world of work?

Definitely technical skills that I learned.

I did a module called Data Mining and I ended up getting a part time job while I was still at UEA. That data mining module has been extremely helpful because I did exactly what I did in the module, just in an industry standard place.

The technical skills you get from this course, are definitely what I required in the industry as well, so it's very current.

Have you used any services to think about your career?

I did use CareerCentral in my undergraduate and that was what helped me decide to do a Master’s.

After doing that  I thought it would probably be best to do my Master’s and get a further qualification to make it easier the next year round.

Now that you're coming to the end of your Master’s, do you have any particular career aspirations?

I work at Aviva. My title is data scientist, so I handle datasets, machine learning algorithms, and other stuff that I've been doing throughout my Master’s. 

I think I'd like to gain a couple of years of experience before I start to think about everything that comes afterwards. See if I enjoy it as much as I think I do and then see what happens.

Do you have any words of advice for students who might be considering doing a Data Science Master’s?

I think that it's very important what you consider to be the outcomes and the avenues you want to go down before you start the course.

If you're particularly interested in data, it is a good choice, but if you're doing it as just being part of computing, perhaps the Computing Master’s would be better. There's actually a lot of overlap between the two in terms of modules, and I think you can take majority of the data science modules on the computing Master’s as well.

To people that are still in their undergraduates and who are thinking about it, tt will totally depend on their specialisation in their third year. If they haven't specialised enough and learned the core aspects of machine learning and artificial intelligence and some of the statistics, then then it is quite difficult transition if you're not already swinging in that sort of direction. I would say something to consider when you when you think about it.

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