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Pawandeep Kaur

SFU Student Undergraduate
Science › Data Science

An image of Pawandeep sitting at a home work station
Working Remotely
Instead of thinking it's a problem, I realized that asking questions is the first step to understanding. People I worked with were always ready to share their ideas and experiences, which was super helpful.

Starting my co-op as a student data helper at BC Cancer was a mix of excitement and nervousness. The thought of jumping into real-world research was both thrilling and a bit scary. I was scared as it was my first job in the field of Data Science. I did not have any experience working in a Data job. Little did I know that this experience would not only test me but also help me grow a lot. 

Feeling Nervous

Entering the world of data felt like going into uncharted territory. The data sets were big, the projects were tricky, and the fear of making mistakes was always there. It's totally normal to feel both excited and a bit scared when you're facing new challenges but what I've learned is that this fear can also help you improve. For Students working remotely, it can be difficult in the beginning as everything is new e.g., tools, team members, etc. I suggest trying to meet with your supervisor or senior colleagues every day to get clear instructions on assigned tasks. Use communication tools like slack or teams to post questions when a zoom meeting is not possible. Also, try to remember to use the available resources as much as possible. 

Asking Questions Helps

In the first few weeks, I was worried about not getting everything right. Bioinformatics was a very new concept for me. I spent a lot of time understanding the terms but that's when I discovered something important: asking questions is a good thing. Instead of thinking it's a problem, I realized that asking questions is the first step to understanding. People I worked with were always ready to share their ideas and experiences, which was super helpful. The tools and methods used for data analyses sometimes vary by subject. If you skip a question on one concept that you don’t understand, that can lead to partial knowledge as we are still in the process of learning. It can also cause hindrance further in the learning process. 

Getting Help from Others
Working in the office with the team
Working in the Office with the Team

The people at BC Cancer were not just coworkers, they were mentors. They have a deep understanding of working with data and were always there to help me find my way. Having someone to guide me made a big difference and made me feel like I wasn't alone. Apart from mentors, connecting with fellow co-op students helps a lot as you both will be in the same boat. 

Always Learning

During co-op, students can review concepts learned from school because having clear basics helps in understanding complex tools used in the job. Apart from this, in the world of data, learning doesn't stop with books. You must keep learning because things are always changing. Every day brought new challenges, and I found out that practicing is the best way to get better. It's not just about knowing stuff, it's about using what you know in real situations. 

Build Connections

Seek advice from your colleagues and have conversations with them about your future aspirations. Connect with them on LinkedIn to establish a professional network that may lead to positive references down the road. 

Changing for the Better

Looking back on my co-op journey, I can see how much I've changed. The first worries turned into confidence, and the tough times became opportunities to learn. My co-op not only helped me get better at my job but also taught me a lot about myself. I got to learn many things about both the Bioinformatics Data Science field and concepts I need to learn for my future. 

To Other Students

Starting your co-op journey might feel a bit scary, and that's okay. Embrace the challenges that come your way, and remember, asking questions is a good thing. Your coworkers are there to help you, so don't be afraid to ask them for advice. The world of data is big and always changing. Keep learning, see problems as chances to be creative, and let your curiosity guide you. Your co-op is not just a job, it's a journey that will make you better in ways you might not even expect. So, go into it with courage, curiosity, and an open mind – your data adventure is waiting! 


Pawandeep Kaur

SFU Student Undergraduate
Science › Data Science
visibility  273
Feb 21, 2024

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