Like most people working in data science, Mohammad Minouneshan didn’t grow up wanting to become a machine learning engineer. But after attending some events in his home country of Iran in 2018, his interest in the field was piqued, and he started looking for ways to learn data science.
Having recently passed a course in C, he had some experience with programming. But he didn’t have any broader computer science knowledge, he says, and he had no experience with skills like data mining. Aside from a basic level of statistics understanding, he needed to find a platform that could help him start learning from scratch.
“Just having the courage to start a challenge like this is key,” he says.
So he dove in, trying to figure out where to start. “I just did searches on the internet for ‘how to be a data scientist’ and things like that.”
He first landed on DataCamp’s platform, but while looking for more answers on Quora, he came across Dataquest founder Vik Paruchuri’s answer to a question about how Dataquest and Datacamp compare. After reading that, he says, “I decided to test Dataquest, since there was a Freemium plan I could try.”
“After I started, I saw that there were very, very big differences, and for me, Dataquest is much better,” Mohammad says. “Dataquest is so much more practical, and I wanted a practical course.”
Another thing that he liked was the price. “If you look at data science course packages on Coursera, EdX, etc., they are more expensive than Dataquest,” he says. “Giving us a monthly subscription and allowing people to learn at their own pace is very fair to the users. For me, it’s better.”
Becoming a Machine Learning Engineer
After spending some time studying on Dataquest, Mohammad was able to achieve his goal of getting into the data science industry. He landed a job as a machine learning engineering intern at an Iran-based fintech startup. He’s also working as a data assistant for his professor as he continues his traditional education. “Every day I’m working as a data scientist,” he says. “It’s a hard job. I have to learn every day.”
Dataquest has helped him out at work, too. “When I’m on the job, I use Dataquest lessons and projects to help me out. For example, if I have some questions about data cleaning, I use the downloadable PDF takeaways from Dataquest to review what I’ve learned. Those takeaways are very, very useful and very helpful.”
Mohammad compares his company to Intuit, and says that he’s expecting it to expand. “We may come to Europe soon,” he says, “because we want to provide our services there and in the Middle East.”
He knows that his skill set will need to expand, too. “I so enjoyed Dataquest,” he says, “and I want to use it more. I want to do more projects. I want to study the Data Engineering path and I want to study the R path, doing both data science and data engineering.”
Learn Data Science From Anywhere
Iran’s difficult economic situation has made it tough for Iranian IT professionals, Mohammad says. It’s difficult to find domestic demand for IT skills, and working with overseas employers is complicated by global politics. Nevertheless, there are opportunities for those willing to learn skills like data science and machine learning, which are in high demand globally, he says.
And although Mohammad plans to eventually move to the US, he says he wants people to know that your location shouldn’t be an impediment to learning valuable skills like data science and machine learning. “I’m in Iran,” he says. “No matter where you are studying from, it’s possible for you to become a data scientist.”