October 5, 2021

Getting a job in MLOps

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Hey, I am Nilansh and I wanted to share my story about how I got my latest job. Hopefully, this will inspire others. It’s a bit of my journey so bear with me!

Background

I graduated with my bachelor’s in computer science and engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology Ropar in May 2021. By definition, I am a fresher, but I had a lot of experience working in open-source communities like OpenMined where I worked as an NLP developer and later as engineering lead for SyferText an open-source library for a privacy-preserving NLP framework.

After that, I interned for Sweedish based AI startup Unbiased where I was helping the team to develop a plan and strategy to put their ML models in production. This pushed me to learn about MLOps. Most of my learnings came from watching episodes of coffee sessions and learning how other people have solved these challenges.

After countless hours watching and doing, I now have experience exploring various open-source framework for handling different parts of MLOps. I joined this community around mid-last year don’t really remember how I found out about it. At the time I was interested in learning about MLOps and had a very brief idea about what it was.

MLOps Community Learnings

It became apparent to me this community was really a goldmine for anyone wanting to learn MLOps or connect with people with knowledgeable people in this space. After watching many many more coffee sessions and podcasts I was able to get an idea of how hard it actually is to push a model into production reliably.

Models tend not to be easy to iterate on or monitor in production. I don’t think there is a silver bullet for this. What is more common in each use case is something depending on project needs. What I have come to realize is that understanding the problem is more important than what tools or tech we use to solve the problem. This pushed me to learn about possible solutions and forced me to continue exploring MLOps.

Job Searching

By the end of 2020 I started looking for a job. I already had decent experience from the open-source contributions and internships I took part in. During interviews, I came to realize the key experience which separated me from other candidates was the ability to understand MLOps and related frameworks.

I never forgot to highlight this in my resume as well as use it as a general opening message to recruiters. I think I was able to convert 99% of my outreach into interviews. I didn’t really care if the opening was for a senior role or entry-level. If the job role description was something I could relate to, I just messaged people why I might be a good fit for role.  Luckily people did reply.

These replies led me to continue chasing my goal.

The Long and Windy Road

I’m not ashamed to admit it, I was rejected for various reasons after many interviews. Mainly it was due to location (I’m in India) or not enough experience (of course this was coming).

Getting so many interviews through a single source was pretty amazing. I was able to train my interviewing skills through the act of doing. I almost stopped applying to job postings from other places as the people in this community always seemed to reply positively. I also made connections with future opportunities also.

And finally, after all that searching, all those interviews, my day of glory came. I got a job at Tide.  

Side note, that opening was for a senior role, but that didn’t stop me from applying. Tide gave me the opportunity to join initially as an intern as I was still finishing my degree. Once I completed my studies I joined as full-time as a Data Scientist.

For freshers, I want to take a moment and emphasize how important it is to separate yourself from the herd. Learn new technologies. These are highly valued in the industry! Don’t be shy about messaging recruiters politely. Give them your introduction. Write personalized messages instead of copy-pasting the same one a million times. In my opinion, bespoke outreach is really important to show that you have read about the company and role.

Just doing that one thing puts you a leg up on the competition.

Closing Thoughts

I hope this story can help inspire others who are just starting to get into this field right now. This is the land of opportunity and the market is hot! Strike while you can and have fun riding the wave. Feel free to reach out to me on slack or connect with me on LinkedIn if I can help in any way.