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Five data science students share stories of studies, events, and their expectations

Ilia Zalesskii, Aaron Wallasvaara, Christian Guidikov, Pranava Varshan and Rainer Ruuskanen are members of the culture committee of the Data Guild. They look forward to more contact teaching and meeting other students. They also welcome new people to join the guild, committee, and the events
Data_Guild
From left: Christian Guidikov, Pranava Varshan, Ilia Zalesskii, Rainer Ruuskanen and Aaron Wallasvaara.

Data Guild is an association of the data science students at Aalto University. It is a relatively new association - it was established only three years ago. Five members of the culture committee of the guild - Ilia Zalesskii, Aaron Wallasvaara, Christian Guidikov, Pranava Varshan and Rainer Ruuskanen – share why they chose to study data science and how they find the student life.

Ilia Zalesskii: Data science seemed to me like magic

Ilia Zalesskii became partially interested in programming already in high school.

‘Data science seemed to me like magic, and I wanted to understand it more in detail.’

Ilia Zalesskii is the Master of Culture, which means he’s leading the culture committee. He finds the orientation week the most important event so far. If that went any other way, he wouldn’t have as many friends as he does.

‘The whole week we were hanging all together. It takes time to get used to being in this community with people from all over the world.’

In addition to the smaller events organized by the Data Guild, Ilia Zalesskii has also participated in the bigger events organized by others.

‘It keeps amazing me that whenever I want to join a conversation, everyone will switch to English.’

Aaron Wallasvaara: I was mesmerized by the opportunities data science has to offer

A few years ago, Aaron Wallasvaara heard some examples about the cool stuff related to data science.

‘I was mesmerized by the opportunities data science has to offer. Never before have we had so much data to use. You can do good stuff with that data, and obviously bad as well.’

In the beginning, Aaron Wallasvaara had no idea that the data science students had their own guild. It was only a day or two before orientation that he noticed the Data Guild.

‘I almost didn’t end up in the Data Guild. But I’m glad I did. I love these guys.’

The culture committee has organized two events so far, a casino event and a movie night. They have also built a bot to announce new events.

‘People can sign up via the event bot. It took long nights of coding to make that happen. The casino event in November was a lot of fun and we learned a lot about organizing an event.’

Data Guild has less than 200 members and therefore it is a struggle to find participants, if they only come from the guild. And with seven people in the culture committee, it is not enough to organize big events. All the events are open to everyone at Aalto.

‘We are always looking for more people to join, and they don’t necessarily need to be data science students. Many people have shown interest in simple chill events such as board game nights, bowling, ice skating, or a costume party.’

Christian Guidikov: For me, the event planning is more important than the events

An important memory for Christian Guidikov is a sewing party that Aaron Wallasvaara organized in his apartment. With a bunch of new friends, they were learning to sew badges to overalls and eating pizza.

‘We were just having conversations. These kinds of smaller parties create even more tight relations.’

Christian Guidikov was lucky enough to get approached by the former master of culture of the guild. They needed a group of first year students, and he knew some people from the orientation week.

‘Orientation week and especially the pre-orientation was the first encounter with all the other fuksis, tutors and second- and third-year students. I want to say to new fuksis that you should try to socialize and come to the pre-orientation if possible. There you will meet all the people you will be with.’

Christian Guidikov enjoys the culture committee and its weekly meetings as such.

‘There is always something to look forward to. For me, the event planning is more important than the events.’

Pranava Varshan: Aalto has an amazing student life

Pranav Varshan took courses in machine learning and deep learning already prior to the university. He considers Finland and Aalto the best places to study.

‘The first day I came to Otaniemi, there was the guild election. I decided to stand up to the post of master of corporate relations. I’m trying to talk to companies to fund and sponsor events.’

Pranav Varshan is looking forward to more offline classes and getting to know more people from different guilds and backgrounds.

‘We have organized a movie night with an after party, and that was a huge success. There were people from different guilds, forming relationships. A lot more people wanted to join.’

Pranav Varshan thinks that Aalto has an amazing student life and something to offer everybody including anime, video games and athletics clubs.

Rainer Ruuskanen: I’m excited that there will be more contact teaching

Rainer Ruuskanen is the only second year student of the group and he was also the student coordinator for others, organizing the orientation week. The intake of data science students is small, only 35 new students yearly. That also meant that they didn’t have to worry too much about the restrictions.

‘Two thirds of the data science students are foreigners. That means that due to the pandemic, only third of the intake was present during the 2020 orientation week. It was fun of course, but there was a different vibe in 2021 when almost everyone could make it. I saw the others becoming friends. It warmed my heart to hear that they also liked the orientation week.’

Rainer Ruuskanen is excited that now there will be more contact teaching and less Zoom.

‘It’s a different experience when you are alone in your room or when you can meet your friends, book a study room and go to the library. I hope the next fuksis will experience the actual study life.’

Further information:

Get to know the Data Guild Event Bot and read a blog post written by Aaron Wallasvaara

 

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