Making the most of graduate studies through creativity and ambition

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Danish Farid, a Master of Data Science and Artificial Intelligence (MDSAI) student, likes to keep his options open in many aspects of his life. While working an 8-month co-op at Huawei Technologies Canada, one of the things he appreciated most was being able to move between teams to observe and participate in the different types of work each one focused on. 

Farid chose Waterloo’s MDSAI program after earning a BSc in Computer Science from Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) in Pakistan so he could build a solid foundation in data and mathematics for whatever came next. “I thought it would be a good base to establish moving forward if I wanted to do something with data, and that this degree, in particular, had a good road map for how to build core concepts that I didn’t have a lot of previous exposure to.” 

Embracing variety through the co-op system was another essential aspect of Farid’s experience at Waterloo. He enjoyed hunting through WaterlooWorks for roles in data science, AI research, software engineering, and more. “Through Waterloo’s fantastic co-op system, there are a lot of jobs for students to apply for, so it’s like opening up a very large menu and saying, ‘Oh, that looks good, that looks good, and this too,” said Farid. 

Farid’s ambition to learn and grow didn’t go unnoticed by his employers at Huawei during his co-op term. He was invited back to work full-time at the company as an associate software engineer, where he will help to develop open-source deep learning tools. One day, Farid would like to open his own firm. 

As the class ambassador for MDSAI, Farid organized social events to bring students together and keep them connected throughout the pandemic. Outside of school and work, you might find Farid pursuing his passion for filmmaking or building a new skill, like learning to sketch in Procreate. “I think creativity is so important, especially if you’re just coding all day, you need some kind of outlet,” Farid remarked. He’s also tried out some of Waterloo’s clubs, participating in activities like archery and salsa dancing. 

As Farid prepares to graduate this spring, he’s looking forward to travelling across Canada. One piece of advice he would like to give current graduate students is that your experience is what you make of it. “Grad school here sets you up with great resources, great professors, and great connections in the industry, but then it’s up to you in how far you can push them. You can just get out with your degree, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but you wouldn’t have gotten as much as you could out of it. Especially at a place like Waterloo with such strong industry connections and trailblazing alumni.” 

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