Lighthouse Labs Data Science Bootcamp Instructor Kenneth Foo Headshot

Meet Kenneth, a Data Science Bootcamp mentor here at Lighthouse Labs. Kenneth is originally from Singapore and, before joining Lighthouse Labs, graduated from the University of British Columbia in June 2020 with a Master's degree in data science. His fellow classmate in the same Master's program, Reiko, shared her experience being a part-time Lighthouse Labs mentor with him.

He found the idea of being a mentor extremely interesting especially in the ever-growing demand for data science education. During his recent job hunt, he came across Lighthouse Labs and shared his experience with us.

How did you originally get into data science? Where did you work before coming to Lighthouse Labs?

Prior to my Master's program, I worked as a chemical engineer at an oil refining company in Singapore for 5.5 years. It was actually in 2016 when I started reading up on data science and artificial intelligence. I started online courses, beginning with a specialization in data science on Coursera under Johns Hopkins University. Building off of that, I wanted to expose myself to more real-world projects and meet more people with the same interests. I started volunteering at a Meetup group called DataKindSG, which helps other non-profits and charities with their objectives related to data analysis, data mining, or machine learning.

After graduating from my Master's program, I started as a Lighthouse Labs mentor in October 2020, and also started my full-time role as a senior quantitative engineer at OpalAI.

What made you decide to become a mentor? Tell us about your mentorship philosophy.

I wanted to become a mentor because I find teaching others highly rewarding. Everybody is on a learning journey, and I really want to help others especially in data science. My perspective is that while I may be mentoring, I am also learning from the students too! Troubleshooting or problem solving can be very fun, especially when both the mentor and student are collaborating together.

As a mentor, when I help out students with problems, I think of it as an investigative process. I always initiate by finding out what their level of technical understanding is before proceeding to identify some of the technical blockers that need to be addressed. As a recent student myself, I understand some of the common difficulties in terms of the learning experience. I usually emphasize on allowing students to verbalize their thoughts so as to help them practice translating thought into words. In my opinion, most people are visual learners so I would try to use illustrations to guide students along. Usually, at the end of each interaction, I try to provide a short summary in terms of the technical concepts so that it helps cement the learning experience.

What do you enjoy doing outside of teaching and work?

In my free time, I enjoy learning more about data science topics of interest. Currently, I am interested in the idea of causal inference and experimentation, and I'm taking a free course called Introduction to Causal Inference by Brady Neal. This course comprises weekly released YouTube video lectures along with a free supplementary textbook, so check it out if you're interested.

In my free time, I love watching Netflix and also enjoy playing Switch games with my wife. Exercising is also a big part of our lifestyle, and we love outdoor activities (be it hiking or stand-up paddle boating). Last but not least, I love watching my calico cat Ellie do silly things!

What is the most rewarding part about helping and mentoring students at Lighthouse Labs?

I always love the "eureka" moment when a student figures out the right answer to the questions he/she was frustrated with! Beyond that, I think it is also rewarding to connect with the students on a more personal note. The students at Lighthouse Labs have been very pleasant and friendly, and have always been thankful after each session of assistance.

Are you working on any side projects right now?

I'm not working on any side projects at the moment as I just started in both my full-time and part-time roles. I would be happy to discuss any topics regarding personalization, experimentation or causal inference so feel free to reach out!

Not too long ago, I did some recent side projects while completing my Master's program so check them out if they sound interesting to you!

What was one thing students should know about you before coming to Lighthouse Labs?

I love cats so if you have a cat, most definitely feel free to show them on your webcam! I would be happy to show off my cat Ellie as well!

What has been your most memorable moment at Lighthouse Labs so far?

My most memorable memory so far is definitely shadowing Reiko during my first session of mentoring while she was conducting technical interviews. I was initially very nervous since it was my first time mentoring, but when I saw how easygoing and friendly the interactions were, I realized that the people at Lighthouse Labs were pretty awesome! It turned out to be a great first session and definitely left a deep impression on me!


What is your advice for all the future data scientists who graduate from bootcamp?

My advice is to always keep learning how to learn. In order to keep up, you have to optimize your learning process so that you can pick things up faster. At the same time, there's always so much new development and different niche areas of data science to pick up on, so the onus is on you to prioritize what to pursue.

More than anything, don't be afraid to approach others to ask for help. I am sure many others have been in similar situations in the past, and as long as you are polite and thankful, they would definitely love to help out!

If you have any questions and would like to connect with Kenneth, make sure to find him on LinkedIn.

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