Starting From Scratch

By Luke Coelho, SDRefinery Summer Intern – 2022

As a data science major entering my senior year, I was excited to land an internship with a company where I could gain some practical experience with data. My excitement was both amplified and cautioned by the fact that I’d never heard of either sentence data or the sentence data refining technology created by my intern employer, SDRefinery AI.

I was a bit nervous that I would be unprepared for this internship since there are a handful of data science classes I’ve yet to take, but SDRefinery AI taught me everything I needed to know.

The CEO of the company, Rock Schindler, is very patient and genuinely cared about me and my well-being. He didn’t want to just go through the motions but rather make sure I actually understood what I was doing and why I was doing it.

And, he wanted me to understand the way my role related to the overall goal of the company: refining original content sentence data into milestones, measurements, and metrics. Most importantly, he wanted me to be constantly learning from the work I was doing for SDRefinery.

I learned a lot from this internship about how to use my data science skills in a real-world setting.  But I also learned things that school can’t teach me. I learned about not only the technical stuff, but I learned about the business side of it as well. Technical skills will only get you so far; effectively communicating your findings to your clients is just as, if not more, important.

I got an opportunity to do this during my internship, specifically with one of our clients named Nate Brown at Ohio Mutual Insurance Group. Our company would frequently have meetings with Nate and his company to go over reports we provided to them and clear up any questions.

Many of these questions and conversations were about information that was helpful – or distracting – to them. We did our best to genuinely understand their perspective and figure out how the metrics we were creating would benefit them the most.

From all of these discussions, I really learned the importance of having business people that understand data and both the opportunities and limitations that go with data science. I came to appreciate that guys like Nate – who have both business and data science expertise – are vital to my future career in data science.

Overall, my internship experience has been wonderful. I feel more valued here than at any other company I’ve ever worked at. Also, virtually all of it was done remotely, so this position is great for those who prefer to work from home. I would recommend this position to anyone who would like to work more with unstructured data (specifically sentence data) and wants to get more practical data science experience.