How the pandemic changed my life

The Covid-19 pandemic kickstarted my data science journey.

How the pandemic changed my life

The pandemic has been an incredibly stressful time for most of us. It has taken a toll on our mental and physical health, and left many of us unemployed.

However, the pandemic helped me gain a different perspective on life. I managed to break into the data science industry in the midst of a Covid-19 lockdown.


Before the pandemic started, I was living a relatively comfortable life.

I had a part-time job during this time. I worked as a tutor during the weekends, and went to university on the weekdays.

Like any other teenager, my priorities were friends and having fun. I was living a happy and worry-free life.

With no goals and no large ambition.

When someone asked me what I wanted to do in the future, I didn’t have an answer.

I was pursuing a data science major, but I didn’t really enjoy it. I liked writing, but didn’t know if I could make a living from it.

I didn’t really care, honestly. After all, I had years before I needed to worry about the future.

All this changed when the government imposed a nationwide lockdown.

Suddenly, I could no longer do the things I liked anymore. I could no longer go out with friends or go to the movies every week. I was stuck at home with nothing to do.

Then, I lost my tutoring job.

Within weeks, my life had changed drastically. Now, I was stuck at home with nothing to do and no source of income.

The transition

The upside of all of this — now that I had nothing to do, I could think clearly.

I started thinking about the future. About what I wanted to do, and who I wanted to become. I realized I had no clear goal in mind.

I took a piece of paper and started making a list of the different career options I had:

  • Software engineer
  • Data scientist
  • Content creator
  • Journalist

I was leaning towards the last two options because honestly, the first two scared me.

I was once told by a professor that “some people were just not cut out for programming,” highlighting my inability to code.

Her words rang in my mind for two years, and I was afraid to pursue a career that required me to code.

I watched videos and read articles on all of these career choices. I took a look at salaries, prospects, and job satisfaction.

And machine learning really stood out to me. I started binge-watching videos of AI applications.

I watched, fascinated, as Watson (an AI application) beat the world champion at a game of Jeopardy.

That was when I decided I was going to give it a try. I wanted to be part of the magic that created Watson. I wanted to pursue machine learning and work with data.

I knew that I still had a big barrier to cross before I could go into any of this.

I needed to know how to code.

So I enrolled into data science online courses, and started doing challenges on sites like HackerRank.

It was difficult.

But I had an end goal in mind. And I decided to keep trying until I became really good at it.

As I coded for 6–7 hours a day, I started to really enjoy it. I realized that my biggest barrier was my own fear.

I even wrote an entire article on getting over the fear of programming, because I’m sure I wasn’t the only person who felt that way.

After getting over the initial fear that was holding me back, the rest fell into place pretty easily.

In just a few months, I:

I wasn’t making any money yet, but I felt more accomplished than ever.

After some time, the lockdown was lifted and I was called back to my tutoring job.

This was something I really wanted just a few months back.

But things were different now, and I turned the job down.

I had no other source of income, but I knew that going back to my previous life would distract me from everything I had built.

I wanted to focus on my end goal, and the work I was doing now.

I was going to wait for an opportunity that aligned with the things I was working towards.

Not long after, my hard work paid off.

I got an internship offer from a data and AI company. They were impressed with my portfolio and projects.

I was still studying at that time, and this was a full time internship opportunity.

This meant that I had to juggle full-time studying with full-time working.

But this wasn’t an opportunity you’d get everyday, so I said yes.

Now, a year later, I’m working in the same company as a data scientist.

In life, things happen to you that you don’t expect. But sometimes, those things happen for the best.