Decoding challenges in the data world

Shashwat Murawala (he/him), a second-year Computer Science student, discusses his first co-op experience as a data analyst at JANA corporation while highlighting the importance of continuous learning in the ever-evolving technology field.  

Shashwat's co-op journey

Work term one: For his first co-op, Shashwat worked as a data analyst at JANA Corporation. In this role, he worked with Structured Query Language (SQL), Python and other software languages on multiple projects to deliver data-driven solutions.  

Q&A with Shashwat

Was there a challenging project that you worked on at JANA? How did you overcome the obstacles in your way? 

Shashwat in a suit and tie. “The most challenging task was creating a fault tree and making a risk analysis model based on that tree. This task was challenging for me because I don’t have a chemical engineering background and the project was based around gas storage, a topic I wasn't as knowledgeable in.” 

“Initially, this was a group test given to me and another co-op who is a Chemical Engineering student at Waterloo. We built on top of each other's knowledge and skills to complete this project; she took the lead on any sort of research and chemical engineering aspects of the task, and I took the lead on any sort of technical aspects and coding.” 

“I also did a bunch of research outside of office hours. I read several articles and textbook pages on storage wells and storage heads. The best way to grow is to stay curious, so I was constantly trying to learn more on the topic.” 

Code scripts on Shashwat's computer.What was it like using software like Power BI and SQL? Did the knowledge from your classes transfer to your work term? 

“Using any sort of software, specifically Power Business Intelligence (BI), SQL and Python was a great learning experience for me. I had experience with SQL and Python in the past, but that was more for personal projects and those were small in comparison to the project I was working on at JANA.” 

“Using these tools and technologies I got to see that what I was doing was just a small piece of the puzzle. Working together and learning from each other was integral in making the project a success.” 

“I would say knowledge from my first-year electives was more transferable than my core courses. My communication courses greatly benefited me as I was constantly working in a team environment. Although the core Computer Science courses didn't directly correlate, I'd say the problem-solving and debugging skills I learned were essential in making my co-op a success.” 

What accomplishments are you proud of from this co-op term? 

“There are of course, several which I'm proud of from this co-op term. But the most rewarding aspect and truly enriching experience was the opportunity to connect and collaborate with the people at JANA. I found their guidance invaluable.” 

“One achievement that does stand out is developing a Python program which makes changes to the SQL scripts and queries. Before developing the program, we constantly needed to change up the queries and the tables. If we realized that there was an error, we had to go back and change it manually. The script that I wrote allowed us to just indicate the change and it would make said changes. So that saved hours of manual labor just making changes which allowed my team to spend their time more efficiently and effectively.” 

Shashwat sitting on a rock in a forest. How did you feel when you were first starting your co-op term in comparison to how you feel now? 

“Starting off the work term I had a mix of excitement and nervousness. I was eager to apply my knowledge in a real-world setting and was looking for new challenges which could help me grow.” 

“In the early days of my co-op, I often had moments of self-doubt and impostor syndrome. But I realized maybe a week or two in that I wasn't the only one facing these challenges. My manager and my mentors faced the same challenges at one point, so they were really supportive and encouraged me to ask questions and seek help when needed.” 

“As the co-op term progressed, I gained a lot of confidence in my abilities and became more comfortable with the work environment. By the midway point I was actively contributing to the team's success and taking ownership of critical tasks.”  

“Reflecting back, I feel I'm much more experienced and capable than I was in the beginning. I've learned valuable lessons not only about technical skills, but also about professionalism, effective communication and teamwork.”  

“I’ve come to appreciate the importance of continuous learning and adaptability in the ever-growing field of data analytics because data analytics is integral in AI and that's what the world is moving towards. I'm excited to carry the lessons I've learned into the next phase of my academic and professional life.” 

Shashwat and the team at JANA posing in a soccer field with a bouncy castle in the distance. Can you describe the work culture at JANA?  

“We had a lot of socials for the company and our team. We had one general company social a week where they would ask a random question and people would debate over it. I remember one of the questions was ‘is AI taking over the world?’”.  

“Also, every Monday we had a team meeting where we would play a game. And then we had a co-op call every week. It was a quick 20-minute call with only the co-ops. It was great to see that it wasn't only me that was sometimes struggling, and others were facing similar difficulties.” 

How do you think that this job has helped you towards your career goals? 

“I'd say that this co-op term has been instrumental in helping me progress toward my career goals. It provided me with the practical experience I needed in data analysis which is directly related to my career aspirations because I want to work in artificial intelligence, data science and machine learning.” 

What's next for you? 

Shashwat smiling in a forest and leaning against a wooden railing. “I want to gain experience in different sectors to broaden my horizons and discover my passions. While it was immensely satisfying working in data analysis at JANA, I believe that exploring other roles, such as research or software engineering, can provide me with a well-rounded perspective of the tech industry and help me make an educated decision about my career path.” 

“I also have a strong desire in further education after I get my bachelor's degree. I want to commit to continuous learning and staying at the forefront of emerging technologies and trends in the tech field.” 

“A long-term goal I have is becoming a leader in the tech industry by making my own startup. I envision a future where I can leverage my personal passions and data science machine learning to create innovative solutions that address real-world challenges. I'm just excited for the journey ahead, for the opportunities to learn and the potential to shape future technology.” 

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