Interview with a Colleague turned PhD Student

Aoife McCardle
Digital Marketing Executive

Today I had the opportunity to speak with one of our employees, who after working at Nova for almost a year, is going to pursue a PhD in Applied Mathematics at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). I wanted to learn more about them and what their experiences at Nova Futur might have done for them.

Before joining Nova, they were a Mathematics Student at Imperial College London doing an integrated Masters degree in which they focused on statistics in their final couple of years. They were drawn to this area of maths, enjoying the rigour of it all, and it was this experience that led them to what they are now pursuing.

After graduating, they saw an advert on Google for the position at Nova Futur and discovered it would be the ideal place to apply the skills learnt within their degree. Additionally, it would allow them to pick up a few more industry specific skills like Big Query, Cloud SQL and writing API’s for example.

While they had applied to several other companies, they chose to work at Nova Futur because we were the most communicative throughout the process.

Eventually they decided to pursue a PhD because the idea of being at the forefront of research, and contributing their own ideas as well as analysing other peoples, thrilled them!

Now for the most intriguing discussion; how have their experiences working at Nova helped them and supported them in pursuing a PhD?

Our colleague explains that it has greatly helped in two prominent ways. Firstly, with their presentation skills; the presentation of their code as well as their ability to present ideas in front of an audience who may not be familiar with all of the technical details and language. 

Secondly with teamwork, it has been greatly beneficial to work with colleagues on their shared project. It was essential that they meet regularly to divide the tasks between themselves, ensuring that they could each focus on the areas they are most familiar with, to work in the most efficient way. This has been highly valuable because as a PhD student, they will probably be collaborating a lot with other students and good cooperation is essential for completing projects and authoring papers.

At Nova they worked closely with our other data scientists, and wanted to give a special thanks to their project partner for being such a good and supportive colleague. Additionally, thanks were given to a senior colleague for their guidance and ability to direct an individual to the correct tutorials necessary to learn skills. Final thanks was given to their hiring manager for their welcoming attitude from day one.     

Our departing colleague recommends that anyone looking to do a PhD should ideally take the time to gain industry experience in their field, especially if in the applied mathematics field. They explain that this job has been invaluable in learning how the mathematical methods can be best applied. In particular it has given great insight into how machine learning algorithms might come in handy in various situations. 

They highly recommend Nova Futur to anyone looking to gain experience in the field of applied maths because the projects are varied and require out-of-the-box thinking while still giving you plenty of support from your team.  

The PhD is likely to take about 5 years to finish and upon completion they would be interested in returning to industry work as a data scientist or analyst. They also said that they would not rule out the option of returning to Nova at the end of it all! 

We wish our colleague all the best at Caltech and hope to see them again upon completion! If this story has resonated with you, we would greatly like to hear from you so please feel free to get in touch or explore our open job positions.

Written by:
Aoife McCardle
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