Leading my first machine learning meetup: An awesome milestone in my professional development

A portrait of a futuristic African machine learning engineer which represents my recent experience of leading my first machine learning meetup

Just two weeks into my Machine Learning apprenticeship with Founders and Coders (FAC), I had the incredible opportunity of leading my first machine learning meetup! The experience was both challenging and rewarding, paving the way for future growth in my career. Here are some key insights and takeaways from my first foray into the world of technical public speaking.

Seizing the Opportunity

It all started when Besart, a machine learning engineer at Meta, informed me he was unable to run the meet-up that day. He then asked if I could lead the regular Founders & Coders meetup, with only an hour to prepare! Despite having helped with registration at AI events before, I’d never actually run a meet-up myself. So without hesitation, I accepted the challenge!

Besart suggested I work through a Kaggle competition or discuss our learnings from the Founders and Coders ML Apprenticeship. Additionally, I’d recently completed an engaging tech test on time series analysis which was fresh in my mind. Ultimately, I chose to focus on the recommendation system project that was part of our apprenticeship program.

The Meet-up Experience

As attendees arrived, I greeted them and provided a brief overview of our agenda. We began by discussing the recommendation system project I’d been working on during my apprenticeship. I explained the intricacies of the problem including the use case, data characteristics and scaling considerations as well as the Amazon EC2 instance used in the production system.

I then introduced the toolset we were using to build our minimum viable product (MVP), which included cutting-edge tools like Docker, PyTorch, Apache Kafka, Redis, and Prometheus. I made sure to explain each tool with clear analogies, making the concepts more accessible to the audience. I also demonstrated how these tools were used in the context of the recommendation problem and how they connected to other tools in terms of machine learning system design.

Finally, I touched upon how the toolset could be utilised to scale up the problem and achieve even better results.

Lessons Learned

The feedback from attendees was overwhelmingly positive. They appreciated my clear explanations, the use of analogies to simplify complex ideas and the interactive nature of the session. However, there were areas where I could improve, such as investing more time in anticipating audience questions and refining my presentation to focus on essential material.

This experience has further highlighted the importance of communication and presentation skills for data scientists and other knowledge workers. I thoroughly enjoyed sharing my knowledge on a larger scale and inspiring others in their learning journey.

Looking Ahead

With this newfound confidence, I’m eager to run more meet-ups, deliver my first lightning talk and even explore the possibility of starting a YouTube channel to further share my passion for AI and machine learning.

To my fellow professionals, I encourage you to embrace the power of public speaking and knowledge sharing. Not only will it help you solidify your understanding, but it’s also an excellent way to inspire and support others. We all have unique experiences from our studies, problems we’ve solved and the people we’ve met. Sharing these experiences is a fantastic way to pay it forward. Words have the power to positively impact others’ lives, so don’t hold back – the world needs your unique viewpoint and we’re all eager to listen and learn.

Expanding Horizons with FAC

The Founders and Coders Apprenticeship program is transforming my career and personal development. Its top-down learning approach enables rapid skill acquisition by focusing on practical system building while providing a strong theoretical foundation. Furthermore, the program fosters an environment of collaboration and knowledge exchange by emphasising peer learning, allowing participants to learn from talented individuals with diverse backgrounds.

One of the most exciting aspects of the apprenticeship is the serendipitous opportunities it presents, such as the experience of running my first meet-up. These moments push you out of your comfort zone and into new territory, enabling both professional and personal growth. The program’s collaborative environment where you work on innovative projects with intelligent, like-minded individuals, is not only fun but also incredibly motivating.

If you’re considering a career in AI, machine learning or deep learning, the Founders and Coders Apprenticeship program offers an unparalleled opportunity to develop your skills, expand your network, and dive into the thrilling world of AI. Don’t miss the chance to join this vibrant community and unlock your full potential in this rapidly-evolving field. The application for the next cohort is open, check out the curriculum and consider applying here.

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