This year LIKTA with the financial support of Microsoft Philanthropies offered free digital skills development courses, which help to improve qualifications of employees and increase efficiency at work and in everyday life. In the interview, Deivids Tenis who was one of the teachers and internship mentors of the “Virtual Internships in the Baltics” project, shares more about his experience.
Deivids, you came from a business environment to the project “Virtual Internships in the Baltics”, as a person interested in data analytics. Tell us about your experience when you started teaching the course “Business and Data Analysis” – what were the main challenges? What should you expect when telling others about a topic you know well, but from the teacher’s side?
In my opinion, the biggest challenge was to prepare the course for people with different levels of understanding, as well as to present it in such a way that it is interesting for everyone to listen and it is clear what I am talking about. Often this meant going into detail, as you cannot predict what the audience’s knowledge is, and also using as many practical examples as possible, so that the course participants could relate what was taught in the course to their own experience. You must definitely take into account the fact that there are people sitting opposite who want to develop knowledge in the topic under consideration and they entrust their time and attention directly to you, so make sure that you do not waste their time and offer the best quality information you can provide so that the course participants can achieve their goals, for which they participate in the course.
In the project, you taught both the Business and Data Analysis course (using Power BI) and the Artificial Intelligence course (using Python). Can these two topics complement each other? How would you rate the use of artificial intelligence for data analysis?
The two topics can certainly complement each other as they both cover data science tools and techniques, but the levels of understanding required to successfully master the respective course differ significantly. For example, the course Business and Data Analytics (using Power BI) was tailored as a logical next step for MS Excel users who are not necessarily data analysts, with the aim of giving them more insight into the world of data, but the Artificial Intelligence course (with Python) was tailored for people, who have a background in data analytics.
Artificial intelligence is a set of data analysis tools and techniques tailored to the desired solutions. It has the potential to answer most complex questions of humanity and create unprecedented solutions, but I think a lot of society is speculating about the nature of artificial intelligence without understanding that it is ultimately a data analysis tool and it’s all up to us – what we create and how we use it.
How did your interest in artificial intelligence develop? How do you “keep yourself in shape” in this ever-changing industry?
I have various ideas about potential applications of artificial intelligence, and working on these solutions means a lot of research and learning new things.
Could you briefly tell us what useful skills the participants of the course will gain after listening to the Business and Data Analysis course?
In the Business and Data Analysis course, we not only look at the business intelligence tool Power BI, but also learn how to work with big data. The main points would be:
- Data pre-processing using Power Query (this tool is also available in MS Excel);
- Preparation and use of models;
- Understanding of DAX language;
- Data visualization and customization;
- Building reports;
- Information sharing and security.
And participants of the course Artificial Intelligence with Python?
In the Artificial Intelligence course, we learn about the fundamentals of machine learning and how they shape artificial intelligence solutions. The main points would be:
- Basic Python data science libraries (Numpy, Pandas, Matplotlib);
- Supervised machine learning tools, methods, algorithms and their fundamentals;
- Unsupervised machine learning tools, methods, algorithms and their basics;
- Basics and algorithms of natural language processing.
In the project, you played both the role of a teacher and guided the internship participants who were interested in deepening their theoretical knowledge by learning practical knowledge and completing internship tasks. What was your experience as a trainee – mentor?
The internship is a completely different experience, since during theory students can study at a leisurely pace, watch recordings of lessons if they want to repeat it, and explore the tools offered by the program, but during internship they have to work in teams to solve tasks that are replenished once a week. Under these conditions, students are exposed to a hands-on work environment where they have to work with unfamiliar people with different levels of understanding and meet deadlines, which in the end inevitably means challenges, so my role is less about teaching and more about helping teams work together and provide support in development of solutions so that everyone reaches the desired results.
What are your opinions about Microsoft products that are used in the courses offered in the project?
Microsoft is the industry leader in various products, for example, Power BI by Microsoft is among the business intelligence tools, and I think it’s obvious, considering how wide range of useful functions it has, and at the same time, it’s easy to use even for beginners, and it also can be connected with various other kinds of software that allow you to customize it as needed.
The project “Virtual Internships in the Baltics” is aimed at giving everyone the opportunity to improve their digital skills and even change their career path. How do you see the future of the ICT industry and in what direction should those who want to start and continue working in the ICT industry look?
In the last 30 years, the ICT sector has developed at increasingly rapid pace, providing new and improved solutions, replacing outdated and ineffective methods, raising the minimum necessary knowledge in the labor market. We all clearly need to adapt and if I had to advise in which direction those who want to start or continue to work in this industry should look, I would recommend – first clearly define your desires and interests and then follow the industry’s current affairs and the latest solutions in order to be able to evaluate how to supplement your professional skills.
The project “Virtual internships in the Baltics” lasted from April 2023 till the January 2024. You can still register for the courses “Business and Data Analysis” and “Artificial Intelligence with Python”, prepared and taught by Deivids Tenis (both in Latvian and English) – the course webinars are recorded and together with specially designed practical tasks and learning materials are available by registering in www.balticinternships.eu Also courses “Introduction to Artificial Intelligence” and “Python Programming” are available to everyone interested.
The courses are available free of charge. The courses can be studied until March 31, 2024, obtaining a certificate confirming completion of the course.