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How Creating an AI Study Group Boosted My Skills and Got Me a Job


The amount of time I had to put in to organize the AI Society left me sometimes sleep-deprived but it was definitely worth it. It was also one of the main factors why I got the job in Machine Learning after all. I hope that this article will inspire you to create your own AI study group!



By Kacper Kubara, Machine Learning Research Intern

The idea has appeared in my head during a talk given by an Artificial Intelligence expert, Alejandro Saucedo, at my university. It felt really exciting: there was a huge amount of students interested in AI and there was no study group like that at my Uni. What I was waiting for then?

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That was the beginning of the story of how creating a study group boosted my knowledge about AI and helped me in getting a summer internship in Machine Learning. I have never suspected that it will have such a big impact on me and on students who joined the group. The amount of time I had to put in to organize the AI Society left me sometimes sleep-deprived but it was definitely worth it. It was also one of the main factors why I got the job in Machine Learning after all. I hope that this article will inspire you to create your own AI study group!

What I love about Towards Data Science, is that it attracts many like-minded people who are passionate about AI and Data Science. That’s why I would like to connect with you on Linkedin! You can also leave any feedback and questions via my personal website 😉

 

How it began

 

 

Right after the AI talk has finished, I asked a few students what they think about the idea of creating an Artificial Intelligence Society. They all seemed to be quite interested, so I decided to pursue that idea further. I contacted a few of my friends to help me with creating the AI Society. They were excited to help, so in the meantime, we started preparing a launch event. It was a big chunk of work to handle as we were also creating the material for the upcoming workshop sessions. The launch event was quite successful: around 60 students came for our first event. During the semester, we managed to maintain a high attendance of students for the workshops and we have also engaged 8 different speakers to lead the workshop sessions!

 

You learn with them

 

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Personally, I have learned a lot of new concepts in AI from my friends which I didn’t even know that they exist. They showed me a lot of useful, less popular Python libraries and introduced me to more niche topics in AI. I also saw a lot of different coding styles which helped me in adapting better programming practices and taught me how to review the code.

The beauty of the study group is that it brings a community which is passionate about a certain subject. It is so much easier to keep yourself accountable for learning new concepts and technologies together with other people. You can exchange your ideas, keep yourself updated with the latest news from the industry or help each other if you have bugs in the code or if you struggle to understand a certain topic. We all become teachers and students at the same time. The workshops also make you more engaged and attentive during the session than if you would be during a normal lecture at the university. Learning by action is much more effective as it tests your understanding as well.

 

Peer pressure helps

 

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Photo by Matt Lee on Unsplash

 

I have spent a lot of late evenings in the library to prepare the code and slides for the upcoming workshops. It was definitely a time-consuming task to do but I appreciated that little push which helped me expand my knowledge. There was no option of failing to prepare materials because students were waiting for the next workshop session.

As you commit yourself to something, you often might find yourself getting out of the comfort zone to achieve it. It can take many forms: hosting the workshops, introducing the speaker or creating the code for the study group. People expect that you will do what you promised, which can give you a little “kick in the butt” to deliver it on time. From my experience, it is just an amazing opportunity for Personal Growth.

 

It shows your passion

 

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Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

 

What could be better to prove your passion than creating a study group where you can learn together with other people? It shows that you put an effort into expanding your knowledge on this topic and proves that you can take your own initiative.

In the previous semester, I noticed that after I updated my CV with details about that study group I started getting more invitations for interviews. Finally, I’ve got a summer internship offer from a company and during the interview one of the main questions was about the Artificial Intelligence Society 😅

 

It makes you recognized

 

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Photo by Miguel Henriques on Unsplash

 

On several occasions, I found myself in a situation when people I met for the first me will already know me because I am the president of the AI Society. They also sometimes assume that I am must be an expert in AI, which is untrue (I believe that you can call yourself an AI expert only after completing P.h.D, or after several years of work experience).

Leading a study group grows your network of people who are passionate about the same thing! Who knows when it might become invaluable: maybe when you will be looking for another job, or when you will be trying to get your first clients for your business?

 

How to create a study group?

 

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Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

 

It is not hard at all! Ask your co-workers, students, or friends if they want to create a study group. It might take various forms: from organizing weekly, unofficial meetings to creating bigger events with speakers or conferences. Think about how much time you and your friends can commit and find a place where you can host your events. It might be difficult at the beginning but ask your friends for help and listen to the feedback, this will help you grow your study group!

Thank you for reading the article. If you got excited about the idea of creating a study group, do contact me on Linkedin. I will be happy to offer you some advice!

 
Bio: Kacper Kubara is a Machine Learning Research Intern at IT Innovation Centre. He writes about AI and Personal Growth with passion. He is the Founder of University of Southampton AI Society. His personal website is www.kacperkubara.com.

Original. Reposted with permission.

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