From Networking to Machine Learning in just 10 years

2020 marks the end of my first decade working. It has been a great ride. When it started I had a very different idea of what was going to happen. I have learned a lot. For some reason, I never optimized for money (the journey would have been very different), always tried to do what looked fun, and followed my gut. I would not recommend anyone following a similar path, just wanted to share it in case you find something interesting.

  • College: I studied Telematics because it did not want to be in front of a computer all the time. When we are young, we are naive and for some reason, I did not want to study software engineering. In college, I enjoyed a lot the Networking courses, Math and Physics. I took 4-5 programming courses and they influenced my working life a lot. 
  • First Job: I worked for 3 years at a local Internet Service Provider. I learned a lot about leadership, networking, and professional life in general. My first code to run in production was a bash script I hacked in 45 mins, fortunately, it worked. At some point, I felt Networking was more about using technology than creating it. I started dreaming about programming and starting a startup. 
  • Startups: I started a couple of startups after my first job. One was a SaaS product for tourism operators the other one was a tiny consulting firm in IoT. The main takeaway here was that I started programming full time. I had to learn a ton of stuff on the fly and was not very good at the beginning. I had some great teachers and was an avid user of StackOverflow. I thought the IoT startup was a product company, but we were actually in Consulting (I learned this like 5 years later). I had the chance to create some interesting products and watch them in production. I still feel happy that we did not break anything serious. I was young, reckless, and always said yes when people asked me if I could do something. There were a lot of long nights and fixing stuff on client datacenters. At the same time, I taught some classes at a local college (Mostly about networking and computer architecture). 
  • First Consulting Job: After the startups, I needed some money and wanted a more regular job. By some interesting coincidences, I landed at a software Consulting firm that was opening up operations in my country. It was a fun ride. We did fairly large development projects and I learned a lot about leading and managing software projects. We worked at the client office and this taught me a lot. I also learned a lot about the Consulting business, given that it was a small operation there was an opportunity for me to learn and help in different parts of the business. I enjoyed helping with invoicing and other administrative tasks. I also burned out, grabbed more work than what I was ready to take. I learned some key lessons about worked in general. 
  • Second Consulting Job: Before my second Consulting Job I did a quick pause to teach some more courses and learn other things (Executive Coaching). This pause helped me recover from burn out and prepare for my next adventure. I started taking some courses on ML (still remember when I finished Andrew’s Ng ML course). I got hired in my second Consulting Job to work on RPA projects. By pure luck, there was an opening in a new ML team. I jumped at the opportunity and kept studying. Had the chance to put a model in production and be with the team the whole process, from whiteboard to production. Also had the opportunity to work with some super smart Ph.D.’s and they were also very humble. I enjoyed working with the team a lot and learned a ton of lessons.

This is where I am today 10 years after starting to work at the ISP. I have enjoyed a lot this journey and am super excited about what is coming now. I am not sure if in 10 years I’ll be in the same place working on the same kind of problems. Hopefully, I’ll be able to come back to this piece and look back with a smile. 

If you have any questions/comments, feel free to reach me on Twitter.

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