Blog

October 9, 2019

Career Path: Rekha Rajaram, Data Scientist at Applecart

What do the career path and the day-in-the-life look like for a Data Scientist at Applecart?

We connected with Rekha Rajaram to find out!

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Where did you grow up?  What did your parents do for work?

I grew up in New Delhi, India. My dad was a career central government employee, who made decisions on policies, and budgets for various departments of the government. My mom worked for the Reserve Bank of India.

Where did you go to college?  What did you study and what were some of your initial jobs out of school?

I went to the Indian Institute of Technology in Madras, where I studied Metallurgical Engineering. Right after I graduated, I moved to California to work on my Doctorate in Materials Science and Engineering at Stanford. My career started out in microprocessor research and development. I worked for a startup called Intermolecular, and then for IBM, before making a pivot to Data Science.

Rekha

What has attributed to your success thus far and has helped propel you to the position you have now?

Taking ownership, and seeing tasks to completion are critical to being a valuable contributor to any team. This has helped me learn about what makes me tick, and where I want to go next in my career. Additionally, being relatively open to learning new skills, has opened up new avenues for me. Finally (and very importantly), being a team-player, and helping co-workers succeed has not only been rewarding in its own right, it has actually helped me build knowledge, skills and improved my network. I would attribute any success I have had to these practices. 

Can you share the high-level responsibilities of your current position as a Data Scientist at Applecart?
 
I build, productionize, and integrate machine learning models for the recommendation engine service on our app. I am also helping build out the internal data analytics platform for the company. Additionally, I work on newer initiatives, such as additional functionalities for the product (particularly as relates to the recommendation engine), and data analysis to support business decisions.
 
Any tips for someone considering a career in Data Science?
 
There are many flavors of data scientists. Some of the things they have in common are: An ability to quantify almost anything, a thirst for data discovery, and the ability to code/prototype their work. My advice to someone with these traits, who is considering a career in Data Science, would be to spend some time both on fundamentals (learn the workings of machine learning models, and some coding - Python, SQL), as well as building projects, and maybe even publishing the work to Github or a similar platform. If possible, taking on data-heavy roles in their current organization is a good starting point. All of this not only helps prepare someone for the big interview, it also helps them learn if the job is really for them.
 

Rehka

 


Day in the Life

Coffee, tea, or nothing?

Coffee. Anytime. (unless it’s wine ‘o clock).

What time do you get into the office? 

Around 9.30 am

What are three things that motivate you in your role?

Creativity, Data discovery, Building products.

Every day is different, but can you outline what a typical day looks like for you?

We have standup in the morning, where we quickly discuss current progress, plans for the day, and any blockers. The rest of the day is mostly a lot of coding or reviewing others’ code. There are some weekly meetings we have for planning, and others as needed, but I am not burdened with too many meetings (which is great!)

What time do you head out of the office? 

Around 6 pm

Do you log back in at night or do you shut it down completely?  

I would say I log back on about 40% of the time. 

Any productivity hacks?

I start with some clear goals - break down complex tasks into smaller ones (Jira is a good resource). Then I often put on some music. For a mid-day pick-up, I turn to hip-hop or pop from the 90s or worldbeat. When I need to focus, something more mellow like classical or blues. Then I put the phone away, and get to work!

What are the 3 apps that you can’t live without?

Google maps, camera, and a tie between Podcasts / Spotify

What professional accomplishment are you proudest of?

I’m pretty excited that some of the microchip fabrication steps that I designed for one of the technology nodes while at IBM, are now in production. 

Who do you admire or call upon for professional advice?

I was fortunate to work with some very capable managers both at the Startup Intermolecular, and at IBM, whom I’ve always admired for their ability to identify and bring out the best in those reporting to them. When I was at an inflection point in my career, one of these managers greatly helped me think through how to apply my strengths as a semiconductor research scientist to becoming a data scientist. I still call upon them for professional advice ever so often.

 

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