A day in the life of a Junior Machine Learning Engineer at OAG

A day in the life of a Junior Machine Learning Engineer at OAG

Headquartered in the UK, OAG is a leading travel data provider with global operations in the USA, Singapore, Japan, Lithuania and China. Its data science team is based in Kaunas.

We chatted with Robert Bilkevic, Lead Data Scientist to find out more about the Junior ML Engineer position. He filled us in on a typical day for a Junior ML Engineer at OAG, touching on what tasks are performed, what skills are needed, and some of the benefits that OAG can provide.

Robert Bilkevic, OAG Lead Data Scientist
Robert Bilkevic, OAG Lead Data Scientist

A typical day as a Junior ML Engineer at OAG

Imagine you've just kicked off your data science career as a Junior ML Engineer at OAG. We’ll let Robert Bilkevic break down your typical day:

Getting up to speed in the morning

"So the usual workday kicks off at 9.00. For the first hour, you catch up with your colleagues over coffee and then jump straight into some unfinished tasks."

"At 10.00 there is the daily stand-up, so it’s usually a good idea to have finished up some day-to-day tasks beforehand - things like raising or reviewing pull requests, replying to emails, or even fixing that pesky bug that’s been on your mind since the day before."

"These daily stand-ups are a quick way for the whole team to get up to speed on what everyone else is doing. In addition to that, sometimes we have voluntary show and tell sessions if a member of the team wishes to go into depth about some exciting piece of work they completed."

"Once the stand-up is over, you have the opportunity to select some more complex tasks for the day, or you can have a friendly chat with the Quality Assurance Engineer about a pull request you’ve recently submitted."

"12.00 to 13.00 is typically our lunch time, where the majority of our colleagues either go out for food, order some to the office, or re-heat their leftovers from last night’s dinner. If you don’t think you’re a social animal, and don’t think you can stomach (pun intended) the casual small talk, you are more than welcome to have your lunch in peace at any other time or place."

Handling complex data tasks after lunch

"After lunch, you resume your more complex tasks: data mining, data preparation, pipeline improvements, running summary statistics, creating interesting plots or building a predictive model. If any questions arise, you typically talk to the senior colleague that you’ve been paired up with for your work."

"Of course, your day would not be complete without a meeting or a call! You will normally have one or two of these a day – they will most likely be project related or team related, e.g. backlog refinement or sprint planning sessions, sprint reviews etc."

Sharing your work in a common repository

"Finally, you keep working until some logical conclusion or breakpoint for your daily tasks is reached. You will then commit the fruit of your work into our common team repository, so they are safely backed up in case of any hardware failure, and they come one step closer to being reviewed by your peers. We don’t encourage working over hours, so you’re strongly encouraged to leave by 18.00 and enjoy your personal life!"

"Obviously, during lockdown or remote working days, things have changed so consequently, you have much more flexibility on how you plan your remote working day. The only requirement is that you try to anchor your plan for the day around the most important team meetings/calls, for example the daily stand-up."

Key skills a Junior ML Engineer at OAG needs

At this point, you’ve probably already wondered what the key skills expected from a junior ML engineer at OAG are. Interestingly enough, you can start without a background in programming.

“We expect candidates to be familiar with R, if they haven’t worked in programming roles. A firm command of Python is, of course, a huge benefit,” Robert Bilkevic, Lead Data Scientist at OAG, says.

Anyone applying for the position should also:

  • understand how basic SQL queries are formed, how different types of joins work, and how to use “where” and “having” clauses correctly,
  • and be familiar with algorithms – linear regression, logistic regression, decision trees – and know when to apply which.

If OAG’s anticipated technical skills are somewhat similar to those sought after by other companies, the approach to the team’s soft skills is pretty unique.

“We want people to be great at explaining complicated concepts and ideas. As Richard Feynman used to say, if you can’t explain something to a child, chances are you don’t understand it yourself,” Robert told us. “In addition to that, we want everyone to be free to challenge the status quo, especially when they notice that some processes can be made more efficient.”

What OAG can offer newly hired ML Engineers

Rapid professional development is what OAG happily and readily invests in when it comes to new hires. That’s why employees are encouraged to make good use of their personal annual learning budgets. Of course, you’ll also learn a lot from your peers, not just in Kaunas, but across the world.

“As we’re firmly embedded in the world of aviation, connectivity is what we’re all about. That’s why we’re happy for our team members to visit our head office in the UK,” explains Robert.

And as OAG’s whole business revolves around the travel industry, it’s no surprise how accommodating the company is to people who love travel. Once you settle in, you can choose to work remotely from anywhere in the world (provided there’s Wi-Fi, of course) for up to 30 days.

Landing a Junior ML Engineer job at OAG

If what they’re offering sounds like the right fit for you, you’re probably already wondering how to land a job at OAG. Especially if you haven’t yet cut your teeth as an ML Engineer.

Luckily, there’s a way for you to level up your skills in under one year with Turing College. As our hiring partner, OAG is very much involved in developing our curriculum. Like our other HPs, they help us prepare our learners to be job-ready.

If OAG is on your mind as a future employer, here’s some more tips from Robert:

“If you can’t answer a question during the interview, that’s absolutely fine! The first and foremost trait that we are looking for is the willingness to learn and develop. Eager and open-minded candidates always get a first class seat in our organization.”

Is data science for you?

We hope that this "day in the life" article has given you a better picture of what it’s like to work as a Junior Machine Learning Engineer.

In the coming weeks, we’ll be exploring other aspects of working in data science. If you want to learn more about how you too can become a data scientist, check out our article on the education and experience levels you need to study data science. Hopefully, it will break any misconceptions you might have and help you understand whether this exciting field is for you.

If you’re already keen on taking your first step into data science, we’re happy to guide you.