Nupur Baghel

“My passion and desire to promote a healthier and safer environment on social platforms urged me to study Data Science at Penn.”

Advising Hours:
Saturday 12-1pm EDT

Degree(s) M.S.E. in Data Science, University of Pennsylvania
B.Eng. in Computer Engineering from University of Delhi (now NSUT)

Hometown: Bhilai, India

What was your background before joining the Data Science (DATS) Program?
I did my Bachelor’s in Computer Engineering from the University of Delhi. 

What drew you to study Data Science at Penn?
While doing my undergraduate program, I worked on a natural language processing project to detect toxic comments on online platforms. It sparked my interest in machine learning and motivated me to carry out research work to develop technologies which safeguard people. My passion and desire to promote a healthier and safer environment on social platforms urged me to study Data Science at Penn. The DATS curriculum at Penn is very flexible and the opportunity of taking courses from different departments excited me.

What are some classes that you have particularly enjoyed and why?
All courses have had interesting learning experiences. I particularly enjoyed – CIS519 Applied ML, which provided both mathematical and practical perspectives into Machine learning; CIS545 Big Data Analytics which helped me become super familiar with data wrangling; CIS505 Software Systems which taught me the nitty-gritty details of distributed systems; MUSA508 Public Policy Analytics which is a great course for learning geospatial data analysis.

What internships have you had? If you know your post graduation plans, please include here.
I did my Summer internship with Facebook, Inc. as a Software Engineer (SWE) Intern. It was a challenging yet productive experience working with the Ads Core ML Engineering team. My courses in machine learning and big data really proved useful. Although, I had to quickly learn about optimization methods in a week and hence would recommend everyone to take a course on it if you get the chance! I plan to continue working full-time with Facebook after graduation.
In the past, I also did some open source internships with Mozilla and got to work on the Servo browser engine (written in Rust) and Firefox browser and Gecko drivers. It was a great experience collaborating with developers situated globally and becoming familiar with version control. It also enabled me to have a taste of working remotely way before it became the new normal.

What advice do you have for new students?
Take a good variety of courses (ESE, STAT, CIS, MUSA). Join communities and work on projects which you care about. I had an amazing experience working with Penn Data Science Group on a crime-related racial bias project collaborating with ACLU, Pennsylvania. We even got to publish our paper and share our findings with everyone.
While doing a job search, make extensive use of referrals and resume databases. Although I didn’t get to go to the Grace Hopper Conference, putting my resume early on the database helped in getting ample interviews. Apply early and apply to a variety of positions. Each interview teaches something new and by working on your mistakes you can ace your future rounds. Finally, don’t stress too much and enjoy your time at Penn while it lasts!