Spectra Interviews: PhD Data Science Internships, Callum Reekie

What attracted you to the data science internship?

Throughout my PhD I have worked with large datasets that have required me to use code-based models and data manipulation methods to extract meaningful scientific information. The technical challenge of designing and implementing computer models has been the most enjoyable aspect of my PhD and I was excited to find that data scientists do this as a career. The internship offered by Spectra provides an opportunity for PhD students to get valuable experience in this field. Not only does the internship offer traditional data science training but also allows you to learn the full lifecycle of developing a data analysis solution.

What is the culture like at Spectra?

Spectra has a fantastic, dynamic working environment. All of the staff are friendly and approachable, regardless of their position or the projects they are working on. There are regular team building exercises which allow the intern not only to get to know colleagues but also feel part of the team. Crazy golf was a particular highlight! Regular ‘stand-ups’ also allow you to learn how your work is contributing to the overall projects that the business is working on.

What was the best part of the internship?

It became apparent to me that effective data science is not just pure AI, but also learning how these models are integrated into user applications. Being given the chance to learn web application development alongside industry-level machine learning has been my favourite aspect of the internship. This has given me valuable insight into not only how to develop effective machine learning models but also deploy these models for others to gain valuable insights from their data.

What was the worst part of the internship?

Choosing a ‘worst’ part would be a challenge! There were none. However, to give an answer – because of the fast-moving projects that the business works on, you are ‘thrown in at the deep end’ with regards to web-app development. There is certainly a learning curve involved and it might take time based on your skill level but it is certainly positive in the long run.

Will the internship help you with your PhD?

Absolutely. I have applied a small amount of machine learning in my PhD written in embarrassingly shambolic scripts. Learning best practices for developing machine learning models as well as an opportunity to learn deep learning will allow me improve this work.

Would you recommend the internship?

110%. I come from a slightly unconventional background (PhD Earth Science) compared to typical routes into this industry. However, the training and support I have received from the entire team at Spectra and the amount I have learned in the space of 3 months has been outstanding. I cannot recommend this internship highly enough for PhD students who want industry experience in data science.