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Larsen Cundrič shares how to level up during studies

In Meaningful work interviews I talk to people about their area of work and expertise to better understand what they do and why it matters to them.

Larsen Cundrič is in his final year of undergraduate Computer Science studies. We also talked about his previous entrepreneurial experience. At the time of this conversation, he was just finishing his last week of exams during his Erasmus exchange in Denmark.

What’s your current focus?

I’m deep into learning how to be a data scientist. How to organize data, build pipelines, and how that connects to creating prediction models. I’m already working with an early-stage biotechnology startup so all of this is not just theoretical. I’ve also had previous apprenticeship experience in creating prediction models in an ad tech company.

How do you currently see the role of a data scientist?

From what I’ve seen so far, this role requires a very diverse set of skills. You need to understand a lot of statistics and how to do data processing. It also requires you to know how to visualize all of this data.

You mentioned that you’re looking to specialize in Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence. Why did you decide on it and not for example Web or Mobile development?

Before I started with my studies I was competing with my team as a part of the FIRST LEGO League. The task was to program the robot so it would autonomously solve the challenges in the competition. That’s when I knew I wanted to be in the field of programming.

As I started my studies I couldn’t connect with Web or Mobile development. I enjoyed mathematics and logical thinking much more. In my second year of studies, I stumbled upon a Data Science Bootcamp on Udemy. That’s where I discovered that data science is a perfect field of work for me. It’s a mix of math and computer science and you still get to implement practical solutions in innovative ways. I enjoy the complexity of connecting so many different disciplines together.

Are there any outcomes of your technology that fascinates you at the moment?

My work in a biotechnology startup feels really magical to me at the moment. We’ve developed a process using data science approaches that let us analyze your blood sample and deduct your age from it. That seemed like science fiction to me when I started my studies and now I’m part of the team that is developing such technology.

It’s also amazing how fast it’s possible to learn all of this. It only took me 3½ years to be able to work in data science, develop Android applications, and many more things. I also didn’t learn just the technology but also about the engineering aspects of projects.

You were also active as an entrepreneur. What did you learn from those attempts?

I’ve had two previous entrepreneurial projects. We created a brand of beeswax cosmetics, and we were developing a concept of gamification in marketing.

What I’ve learned from these experiences is that there are many more options in life than just having a job. You can build a company. You can do project-based work. You can join a startup and try to change the world. Concepts and opportunities that were completely foreign to me before.

I’ve also learned a lot from launching new business projects. I think the main lessons were more about the mechanism of running a business. How to keep track of finances, setting goals, and how to divide and delegate responsibilities. It also requires much more attention and focus than I expected. I’ve also learned that I’m currently more interested in technology so I’ve shifted my attention away from business development.

Overall I’ve discovered that the general opinion of what’s hard to achieve doesn’t always apply to me. I’ve always heard that it’s hard to study math and computer science. So it’s a good thing that I tried it for myself and discovered that it isn’t that hard. So now I know that I need to experience things for myself to be able to know if it’s really hard or not.

Can you recommend any good resources to level up?

What I learned from talking with Larsen

A good approach to learn about oneself is to give things try and evaluate if it’s a good fit or not.

The best students are supplementing their studies with self-directed online learning.

With every failure there’s a lot of learning that comes out from it.