When Jay Kachhadia earned his bachelor’s in computer engineering from the National Institute of Technology Surat in India, he felt applying to graduate school was the best move to advance his career as a data scientist. He started researching data science programs, and Syracuse University’s iSchool instantly made its way to the top of Kachhadia’s list. Kachhadia was drawn in by the school’s reputation within information management and data science and the opportunity to work with professors on their research projects.

Aside from an internship with the Indian Institute for Human Settlements, Kachhadia didn’t have professional experience as a data scientist. Attending Syracuse and working on research projects would give him the experience he desired while earning his master’s. 

Kachhadia reached out to a few Syracuse professors to learn more about research opportunities. One project that stood out to Kachhadia was Dr. Jennifer Stromer-Galley’s Illuminating project. The project analyzed how social media platforms can impact the perception of different political candidates. 

When Kachhadia attended the iSchool in 2018, he joined Dr. Stromer-Galley’s project as a research assistant. Through the project, Kachhadia used machine learning to perform text mining and discover patterns in more than 18 million public comments, developed natural language processing algorithms for social media data classification of 1100 US candidates, and built streaming data pipelines in Apache Spark and Airflow. 

Working on the Illuminating project gave Kachhadia the foundation he needed to land a summer internship with CBS Interactive as a Data Engineering Intern. Since his undergraduate studies, Kachhadia wanted to work in entertainment. And this opportunity with CBS allowed him to learn a mix of data science and engineering within the entertainment industry. 

His two main internship projects included building an anomaly detection system and a subscription abuse detection system. “I had to build machine learning models to solve various business problems,” explains Kachhadia. “I also built data science pipelines. So gathering data, working out the model, and getting the data to our end-users.”

Kachhadia’s manager was impressed with his work during the internship and offered him a full-time data scientist position after graduation. “When my manager told me they were willing to hire me after I graduate, that was a dream come true,” says Kachhadia. “I’m loving the entertainment space and the work I’m doing.”

Kachhadia learned a lot through his iSchool education, research assistant position, and work with CBS, both as a full-time data scientist and intern. To share his journey and insights with future data scientists, Kachhadia started writing. He shares his knowledge on Medium, earning more than 100K views on his site. Kachhadia is also a contributing writer for Towards Data Science and has recently started speaking at conferences like the 9th Data Science UA Online Conference, where he discussed full-stack data science and what skills the next generation of data scientists need to get their first jobs.  

Kachhadia’s success as a data scientist comes from his dedication to the field mixed with persistence and hard work. He also credits his time at the iSchool, specifically working on research projects, as a significant contributor to setting him up to earn his dream job with ViacomCBS.

“I think there are a lot of opportunities to join research or work with organizations in the iSchool,” says Kachhadia. And his advice to future iSchool students is to find and take advantage of those opportunities to learn and grow.