Tuesday November 12th

Twitter’s ML Flock event

I’m doing a dangerous thing

  • I’m starting a post while waiting for my flight to board. So we’ll see how far this goes :)
  • On my way there, Air Force One (aka El Presidente) was in our airport, so no planes were allowed to leave or land. This meant we spent a good twenty minutes just circling until they left. Fortunately, I was able to make the event on time (early, even!)
  • Oh, there is also a funny story about my being escorted out of the gate because I forgot to drink the tea I usually brew every morning. Oops. Burlington’s a pretty small airport, so I ended up taking the tea and my stuff, drinking it just outside the gate, and then coming back in. Whoops. Kind of embarrassing, though lol.

I went to New York

  • I was invited to an event by Twitter called MLFlock (with hash tag MLFlockTalk) specifically for PhD students who have some aspect of Machine Learning in their research. It was a really great event because we did roundtables, or rather, rotations, with ML engineers in teams within Twitter, in groups of about five each.
  • So each group of five ML students had an opportunity to speak with about one to two engineers in twenty minute segments. I got a lot out of it, as well as the general presentation on Academia to Industry. That specifically was a panel in which engineers on the teams spoke about differences between both experiences, and spoke about their backgrounds and impact at Twitter.

It felt just about right

  • The size was great for the event, because you felt like you really had a chance to speak with the people in ML at this event. It was definitely pretty flattering because of how much access we received. I would definitely attend another similar event! The teams were diverse enough, also, that you could see how you might fit in one team versus another. Really well thought out.

Here are some photos from the event

Twitter NY

Twitter Swag

The topic of the evening for our Panel

Differences between Academia, Startups and Industry

This is mighty similar to the SF office

Staying true to yourself

  • I started on this journey, and specifically a PhD, because a part of me thinks it is one of the ways I can stay true to myself, in addition to reaching my goals. At this time, going into industry, I think, would have not allowed me to do this. A good friend told me today (he has way more experience than I do) that it’s important to continue creative ventures even when you do things for an institution or a company. You should leave a trail of creativity; it’s something that’s yours. So keep up the blog, etc. I definitely intend to do this.
  • When I attend these events, I’m looking for people or teams that resonate with this within their culture. I get that company culture is important, and that being a fit is important, but I also think it’s important to stay in touch with who you are and what you bring to the table. I think that that’s a difficult thing to do in tech, because there are various things that can pull you in different directions (eg famous company with very forceful, specific culture, money, status, etc). But staying true to yourself and having freedom to stay creative is a value that is really important to me. Creativity is something I can’t shake.

So in Summary

  • I met some great people, I left feeling inspired and happy for the opportunity. I hope that Twitter continues to do more of these; they’re interesting and I really enjoyed that as I spoke with persons on teams tonight, you could see their processing things, figuring out ways in which things could be better, listening to feedback and ideas. I appreciated that a lot. It’s very promising.
  • I however, am a bit of a hypocrite, because I just (in the airport actually) signed an offer for my Summer internship, but I’m not above taking time off for Fall or Spring or considering and forming relationships with other teams and doing research with them. I wanted to be a Code2040 Fellow this Summer because I really love their programme, and I want to be a part of their legacy. So it’s something I wanted to do for quite a while, and I was fortunate to obtain an offer yesterday to officially be considered a Fellow for next summer, via an internship at Autodesk’s Pier 9. But I’m still interviewing and speaking with companies because I’m cultivating relationships and seeing if it’s a fit and perhaps we can work something out; a PhD is a time of exploration and shaping the kind of person you will become through mentorship and failure and perseverance.

And that’s it.

Written on November 12, 2019