Research Software Developer, Manifold
Favourite aspect of your job? Most exciting part? Most rewarding part? Since graduating, I have been working doing Machine Learning in startups. The most exciting part of my job is implementing research as solutions and products. Usually I am faced with a really challenging problem like how to generate descriptive summaries of video content and I love digging into research and current approaches, building prototypes and models, and then integrating it as a software product that customers can use. Everything I do is directed towards building a new company and a product that people really love.
Have you followed a circuitous path to your current position, or a straightforward path? Both, I think. I have always been doing things with computers since high school. Even though my previous degree was History, I did most of my work building models to analyze history. Even during my Masters, I sought out opportunities in machine learning and computer science under the guise of information science. From there, it was quite natural for me to follow my interests into companies that were doing work in those areas. Startups are a good fit for people who don't have an obvious career path elsewhere.
What skill is most in-demand for people entering the field today? "The field" is different for everyone, but being fearless and having a bit of bravado and being able to own things are important. Organizations are becoming more horizontally organized, i.e. units of autonomous teams. If you can't take responsibility and ownership over your team's work than you will have a hard time.
Words of advice/career tips for MLIS students? Is there anything you wish you had known when you entered your professional that would be helpful to someone entering it today? You will make a lot of assumptions about your career and professional life and they are probably wrong. If you think some job, or career, or field of research and study is a certain way it probably won't be. You are going to have to experience things to know what they are like. So follow what your interested in to its logical conclusion and do it really passionately even if it means "missing" other opportunities or doing things you are scared of.