July 5, 2021

Meet Alan

Meet Alan - 20 - Data Analytics & Business Development - Word Scientist

Hi there! Today is an amazing day because today is the day we can finally introduce you to Alan, one of the newest members of our team! Alan is currently joining us remotely from his home in the U.S. Interested in knowing how a Harvard physics student ended up doing an internship at edyoucated? His road to edyoucated as well as many more interesting facts about Alan will be covered in the next couple of paragraphs. Let's dive right in!

First things first: Could you briefly let us know who you are? What do we need to know about Alan?

Hello! Thanks for having me on your show 🤩.

I'm a rising junior studying physics and statistics at Harvard University. I grew up in the lovely city of Rochester, New York, home to a famous lilac festival and the best grocery store in the world. This summer I'm working remotely from Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Academically, my interests are diverse, ranging from the sciences to the humanities with a dash of everything in between. I've done research at the second most powerful laser facility in the U.S., and I've modeled the motion of a giant star-forming structure in our Milky Way. I'm a creative writer—mainly fiction, lately screenwriting—who unsurprisingly loves all things art and literature. I write the most awesome book reviews you've never read. Data and language (not coffee!) power my days.

I play and watch lots of sports. I've been a competitive tennis player for the past ten years or so, but you can throw me any kind of ball and I will probably catch it. Unless we're playing soccer, of course.

Alan playing tennis

Amazing! Really looking forward to the next couple of weeks. Can you already give us a brief sneak peek into your "daily doing"? Any specific projects that you will be working on during your internship?

I'm six hours behind German time, so I start working around 7am. (Not a big deal, since I'm a morning person!) That gives me about five hours of overlap with the rest of the team, during which we can meet synchronously. Then, when everyone in Germany is asleep, I finish up my work for the day. As a result, we have all received Slack messages at 2am (do the math 😉).

Right now my project is job skill extraction. In a nutshell, I'm developing an algorithm (and product) to identify relevant skills in the text of job ads. I envision a feature on our platform that allows an edyoucated user to paste any job description into our "extraction box" and receive a personalized learning path that is relevant to the job.

Why did you decide to join a German startup? Do you have any tips for someone that is about to start a job at a company that is based in another country?

Freshman year of college I decided to learn German—I thought it was a beautiful language (I still stand by this opinion, though my teammates might disagree!), and I wanted to read some of my favorite authors in their original language. Soon I realized that Germany is also a leading hub of innovation in Europe. What a cool experience it would be, immersing myself in the culture and business of the country.

I joined edyoucated specifically because the interview process left a really positive impression on me. I had a great first conversation with Marius earlier this year; now he's my project advisor! I'm also a lifelong learner and teacher at heart. At a startup, I know that everyone has the potential to make a huge impact.

Tips for working abroad? Pick a company that you care about; make sure you are treated well and you like the people you work with. The time difference is definitely challenging but my team is always flexible and understanding. I appreciate being able to structure my work day in a way that fits my schedule.

Looking back at you first weeks here: Is your internship the way you expected it to be? And if not, what did you expect to be differently?

In terms of the work I'm doing, yes! I was hoping for an internship that combined data analytics with more traditional business development tasks. My first few weeks have been heavily focused on data, algorithms, and code. In the coming weeks I'll be doing some product work and then finally getting involved with sales and marketing. So—besides not being in Germany, I'd say the internship is going as planned!

I knew that edyoucated would be a great place to work, but I certainly wasn't prepared for such a warm and exciting welcome to the team. Everyone—and I mean everyone—has been happy and willing to help me out, despite my asking tough questions! We also laugh a lot, because we're all so funny (obviously).

edyoucated is all about learning. So, would you be willing to share the biggest learning from your personal edyoucated journey that you had so far?

Creating a job skill extractor is no easy task. In order to recognize skills in job ads, I've had to sift through thousands of job ads to see which words come up most frequently. Tools such as web scraping and natural language processing have become essential to me, even though I didn't know anything about either topic before starting my internship! I found plentiful resources online to guide me through the basics; the hardest part was figuring out which resources were relevant, and then adapting them to solve my specific problem. I'm a big fan of "learning as you go" and I look forward to doing more of it in the coming weeks.

And we are already finished! Thanks so much Alan, was a pleasure talking to you! Anything else you want the people out there to know?

Thank you for the interview!

P.S.: Should I say "soccer" or "football" ⚽  ? If I say "soccer," then my colleagues know exactly what I mean but I sound like an eccentric American. 🇺🇸  😜 If I say "football," then I'm using the more proper term but my colleagues might wonder whether I mean American football 🏈. Perhaps Fußball would do the trick.

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