The Struggle and How I coped


Welcome once more to the second part of my blog and Happy holidays to whoever gets to read this. I am closing in on my first month as an Outreachy data science intern for the awesome Wikimedia Foundation. Super thrilling experience learning from my mentors thus far but just like every new project difficulties come along the way. In this piece, I would shed light on my struggles so far and how I coped.

First of, my project is centred on inferring countries based on Wikipedia articles. This being a completely new project has been exciting as well as challenging for me. Having to comb through API documentation to make sense of what I am to do has been really challenging and I am about to share how I was able to cope during these trying times:

  • Break down tasks into smaller units:

Handling a large project can be overwhelming at times because it feels like you have to overload yourself with a lot of info but breaking this project into divisions and these divisions into subdivisions has been my key to tackling tough challenges. While working on my current project for Wikimedia Foundation, I had to learn how to delegate tasks into smaller components. This helped remove the fear factor I initially encountered in the project. It also made me structure my thoughts more clearly and I was able to have a better understanding of what I am expected to deliver.

  • Do not be scared to ask questions: Like my mentor would say,

    We are here to help you. Make sure you remember that.

Remember that you are not alone in whatever struggles you are currently going through. When trying to build a prototype that would give us a better sense of the analysis to be done in order to build a baseline model, I encountered latency issues. Having to process millions of rows of data and skim through for important info was a real daunting task as I either faced memory issues or speed issues. But going over these issues with my mentors really helped me solve them. Remember:

There is no weakness in asking. If we wait for someone to give us what we want, chances are we might never get it.

  • It is okay to fail, just do not stop trying:

At some point in the early stages of the internship, I honestly got frustrated with some tasks as I had to optimize code since processing data was taking a significant amount of time to work. I remember being hit with Impostor syndrome but I had to realize something crucial that in order to suceed, road blocks are important. Like my mentor, Isaac would say:

I do not see it as a failure. I rather see it as an experiment.

Experiments as we all know do not go as planned all the time. But does that mean you should stop trying? No! Keep pushing. The light is definitely at the end of the tunnel. These kind words reignited my motivation and helped me press on and solve the latency issue I faced.

PS: I later got to track what line of code caused this latency thanks to the advice from my co-mentor, Martin.

  • Know when to rest:

I am definitely guilty of this. Working on exciting projects can be exhilarating and we get to lose track of time while doing work we love. Now this is good as it shows passion but the disadvantage of this is that burn outs occur after a while. We are humans and not robots so our body system would definitely react to long hours on projects so, therefore, find time to Shut your PC and rest. A healthy mind means healthier code.

I look forward to doing more amazing things for Wikimedia Foundation as the week progresses.

Thank you and see you soon!