MDS Spotlight: Meet Qurat-ul-Ain Azim, MDS Vancouver, Class of 2023

Qurat-ul-Ain Azim came from the world of academia, teaching and doing research in applied mathematics, prior to joining UBC’s Master of Data Science (MDS) program. Azim holds a PhD in Applied Mathematics from the Imperial College London.

“Due to my training in mathematics, I always used to do numbers and analytical work. My work involved looking at applicable problems from a math perspective, and I kept thinking of shifting the lens where I do applications that leveraged math and analytical skills,” Azim said. “Data science was a perfect combination of numbers, analysis and amazing applications that really make a real-world difference.”

Azim did some online certifications to gain hands-on data science skills but discovered that she wanted something more rigorous and thorough, which led her to the MDS program.

Master of Data Science Vancouver Qurat Profile

“The UBC MDS program stood out for many reasons. UBC’s prestige, the breadth of topics covered in the MDS curriculum, and the 10-month duration were on the top of my list,” she explained.

Azim applied to other data science master’s programs but ultimately decided to attend MDS not only because of its curriculum and 10-month duration but also the opportunity to get practical experience via the capstone project.

“The program has so much to offer. At some point during my coursework, I googled some top interview questions for data scientist jobs, and I was amazed that the MDS curriculum covered solid knowledge of all of those,” noted Azim. 

During program, Azim said there are also many opportunities to get you ready for the job market. 

Amongst these are the MDS mentoring program, employer info sessions, career advisory and workshops that are invaluable, apart from the technical aspects that MDS prepare you for. 

She added that the workshops helped her prepare her resume and her interview skills. In addition, Azim said the networking events allowed her to build valuable connections.

In addition, Azim said she enjoyed interacting with the MDS faculty. 

“They are extremely supportive and they genuinely care for your learning and success. They are always willing to help and are very responsive. I would also mention that the MDS faculty employs some of the most modern and effective pedagogical approaches.”

Azim also found that she equally learned from her cohort.

“From an academic perspective, peers from other backgrounds would provide you the opportunity to look at problems with a completely new perspective and approach. This opened up so many new ideas to me,” she explained. “From a human interaction perspective, I appreciated the inclusive environment that the cohort offered due to its diversity. With no prior North American experience, this helped me learn to navigate the new environment with ease and confidence.”

When it came time to her capstone project, Azim found it a satisfying experience as it gave her an opportunity to show her data science skills. “I got to take a deep dive into a practical problem which allowed me to get a taste of future work.” 

As Azim gets ready for the job market, she feels that MDS’ curriculum has given her the requisite technical skills coupled with the career workshops to succeed in interviews.

When it comes to future career plans, Azim is looking for jobs that bring meaning and satisfaction to her. 

“An ideal role for me would be where I can work for a good cause. This could, for example, be where I transfer my knowledge through teaching data science skills, or somewhere that I can leverage my abilities to benefit people’s life in general, like in healthcare etc.”

Qurat’s Top 3 Tips on Succeeding in the MDS Program:

  1. Make study groups early on. Working on labs in groups is always helpful, and you spend less time being stuck on something. However, do try to understand how and why you are doing something a certain way. I would also encourage you to always write your own code even if you figured out the solution with the help of peers.
  2. Take a break. The workload is going to be intense. You’ll be on a rollercoaster ride so take it one day at a time. Give yourself credit for what you are doing every now and then and take care of your physical and mental health. Making friends and having social life helps. You’ll always feel like your peers are on top of everything but remember that you won’t be in the program if you were not amazing yourself. Talk about your struggles with peers, most will be able to resonate with your feelings.
  3. Network. During MDS you’ll never have enough time but try as best as possible to make the most out of the career development and mentoring opportunities that MDS has to offer. Try to network as much as you can and build meaningful connections.

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