Tell us a little bit about your life before you enrolled in the Big Data program at SFU.
I was born and raised in Mainland China and moved to Canada at the age of 17. I did my undergraduate degree in Business Administration with a major in Accounting at SFU’s Beedie School of Business. After graduation, I went back to China to work as an Auditor with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), a multinational professional services network.
I have always liked Computing Science and took many CS courses to fulfill the elective requirements of my Bus. Admin. degree, so, after a year of working at PwC, I decided to go back to SFU and do a second degree, this time in Computing Science.
When SFU launched the Big Data program, I was finishing my third year of Computing Science. I decided to apply for the Master’s program as a way to upgrade my qualifications. The program was appealing, because it was short, hands-on, and would give me an edge in the competitive market around computing science. I think my previous Co-op experience as a junior software engineer in bioinformatics helped me get into the program.
What do you consider the greatest strength of the program?
The lab course is a fantastic way to learn about big data techniques and technologies. We have two professors and two teaching assistants leading the course, so it is easy to flag someone down and get help. The small size of the cohort is also very conducive to learning.
What is the most important thing you have learned in the program so far?
The most important thing I have learned so far is to be prepared for handling non-typical cases when working with large data sets. It is important to make sure that the system and program(s) one is working with can handle massive data.
What types of jobs are you looking for?
I haven’t quite decided yet, but I am looking at three options: a software engineering role, a role that combines engineering with research, or a more research-oriented position. Basically, I would like to develop big data software.
What are some of your other interests and hobbies?
When I’m not reading manga or watching anime, you can find me playing a round of ping pong with friends or doing some camping or hiking in beautiful British Columbia.
What would you tell potential students looking at SFU’s Big Data program?
The first semester may be tougher than you think. I do not recommend working part-time, as this is a full-time program that requires dedication.
A solid knowledge of computing science and programming skills is essential. If you don’t have professional experience in computing science yet, it would be very beneficial to work on programming projects in your spare time.
Also, because big data is still a fairly new area, it may take some time to secure a Co-op placement in big data. But, if you can get related experience, for example in software engineering, you will have many skills that can be transferred back to a big data position.