🌠 A Recap of the Year 2021

Now that we are in the last days of 2021, I would like to look back and reflect on the past events of this year.

On a personal level

While I like to keep a relatively low profile in my personal life, I want to highlight a few achievements. At the beginning of the year, as many of us probably thought the same, I believed that after a few more months, the covid-19 pandemic situation would ton down, and life would be getting back to normal at a much faster pace. After some time I realised that it wouldn't be the case and we had to adapt to the "new" normal.

Fortunately, everyone in my family remained safe and healthy, and that was one of the most significant achievements of the year. Moreover, in my home country, Portugal, the vaccines were well accepted by the population, and we quickly reached a considerable percentage of people vaccinated. Let's see how the situation will evolve in the future, and I hope that we can finally resume all activities as before with time.

Still, by the end of the first quarter of 2021, I moved to a rented apartment with my girlfriend. Also, this year I believe I came to figure out my system to organise my personal finances regarding savings and investments, and I managed to stay consistent during the entire year.

Improving my home office

This year, I have decided to make some upgrades that I consider great investments. I spent a good chunk of time sitting at my desk. It is vital to have a decent chair, so I purchased an IKEA JÄRVFJÄLLET office chair. The neck and low back support are pretty comfortable, and I honestly can tell the difference from a regular chair without those features, especially after long work sessions.

I have also decided to retire my old laptop. After getting me through two university degrees and lots of countless projects, the computer started to lack some computing power. After spending some days looking for a new model, and decided to go with the Lenovo Legion 5 laptop. It provides the necessary resources to handle all my Data Science and Machine Learning projects. I am pretty happy with both of these purchases, and they improved my home office considerably.

Moving from Academia to Industry

Since 2016, I have been in some way connected to Academia, either being a full-time Master degree student or as a Research Assistant in various projects. During these years, I had the opportunity to learn about a wide range of topics and get to know how things work in this environment. Through my research work, I had the chance to connect with people of many fascinating backgrounds and research interests, attend conferences and travel to a few new countries while doing that. So overall, it was an incredible experience. After these years, I felt that I needed a change to get back to my original roots of industry work. In Academia, we can explore topics in-depth. However, often we don't get the chance to materialise those ideas and bring them to production. So that missing part led me to decide to part ways with Academia and join the Industry where I can have more fast-paced projects and learn about new domains in a more hands-on approach. Near the end of the year, I got my first job as a Data Scientist in a company. Very excited about this new challenge!

Learning and Networking

I felt that this year was very productive learning wise. My last research project led me to discover a great deal about the potential of leveraging Transfer Learning in many use cases while having privacy constraints within the context of fraud detection. All the job interviews preparation I have done allowed me to consolidate fundamentals of statistics, machine learning and product sense, among other topics. Most importantly, during this year, I have met many people working in Data Science in different positions. I had the chance to network and learn from them, engage in exciting conversations about many topics, and understand that communication plays a crucial role in this field as we interact with people from many different backgrounds. Having the ability to communicate our ideas is one of the most powerful skills we can learn.

In Closing

As for next year, I hope to continue to develop good habits, continue to learn both on a personal and professional level and push myself out of my comfort zone to make things interesting.

One last thing, this year, I also picked up a new hobby playing and learning chess which I love!

Hugo Matalonga
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Hugo Matalonga