MDS Spotlight: Meet Samuel Vélez MDS Okanagan, Class of 2021

For Samuel Vélez, three years of working in finance opened his eyes to how data can shape the future of industries and companies.

“The data-driven organizations are the ones pushing ahead, making the most out of the huge amounts of data available today,” explained Vélez. “I wanted to be part of that and help as much as I could.”

Samuel Velez

This realization led Vélez to undertake an intensive investigation into the best data science programs available with the hope of gaining the foundational knowledge and the skills needed to launch him into a career in the field of data science. 

Vélez’s comprehensive research led him to the Okanagan Valley, and the MDS Okanagan program.

“I compared the curriculums offered in every program out there and chose a few that stood out because of the topics they covered and the background of their professors,” said Vélez. “I contacted staff and alumni, and the MDS-O program had spotless reviews.”

In addition to the glowing feedback he received about the program, Velez said there were a number of other key elements that attracted him to the program.

“The small cohort size, the 10-month structure and the content, which touches on all the fundamentals to start a career in data science,” said Vélez, adding that the quality of the professors was also very noteworthy and helped to inspire trust in the program.

It didn’t take Vélez long, once he was immersed in the program, to see the benefits of the MDS Okanagan program.

“There is a huge diversity of backgrounds, which enriches and makes the program that much more enjoyable and rewarding, as you learn from different points of view on the problems you solve together,” explained Vélez.

Another advantage, according to Velez, was the program’s capstone project.

“The capstone project is the biggest positive point for the program. It makes you work directly with an industry partner on a real-life project, but you get the program’s supervision and support throughout. It makes you feel prepared for the future,” said Vélez.

Reflecting on his time in the program, Vélez also couldn’t hide his love for the physical location of the program.

 “I spent a lot of time getting to know the Okanagan Valley,” said Vélez. “It is beautiful and full of places to explore if you enjoy nature. There are many hiking trails with amazing views of the lakes and forests.”

Now that Vélez has successfully completed the 10-month intensive program, he feels more than ready to begin a career where he can help to shape the future. 

“I feel the program gives you a strong set of tools and a skillset to use them, and the best preparation for the job market is the capstone,” Vélez explained. “In this way, I think the program does a good job of giving you a taste of the things the industry actually needs.”

So what would Vélez tell prospective students thinking of applying to the MDS-O program?

“The quality of the program is world-class, the students come from many different industries and backgrounds, and the campus and surrounding areas are beautiful. I recommend it completely.”

Samuel’s Top 3 Tips on Succeeding in the MDS-O Program:

1.    Because the program is accelerated, time is a very scarce resource. Try to stay on top of the assignments as soon as they are released, and to review the materials before class. 
2.    Develop a connection with your fellow students. Teamwork and mutual help when someone is struggling with a subject is invaluable, and makes the program that much easier.
3.    Try to separate time in the long weekends and breaks to work on some personal projects. They are great practice and prove to potential employers what you have learnt in the program.

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