Dhairya Dalal

Technical Project Management Consultant at Allen Institute for Brain Science
Research
Seattle, Washington

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Dhairya's career stories

What is the most useful piece of career advice you got as a student, and who gave it to you?

Being a student is super-power! Interested in a cool company or organization. Be bold and email, tweet, or linkedin contact the CEO or president or any other leader in the organization. Professionals enjoy supporting and mentoring students, providing advice, and even helping them find opportunities. So if you see a company working on cool projects or see someone who has your dream job, drop them a line. Worst case scenario they don't respond. But you'll be surprised how accessible senior professionals are and willing to help you learn more about your dream job.

When you were a student, did you do anything outside of school to build skills or get knowledge that has helped your career?

Volunteer with non-profits! I currently work in artificial intelligence and natural language processing research. But I came from non-tech background. I studied creative writing in college! I was able to gain a lot of my technical skills and experience volunteering with non-profits. It started off simple with things like building a website and setting up social media accounts for non-profits. But quickly, I gained more complex experience with data analysis, programming, and data visualization. Non-profits are traditionally understaffed and there is a lot of interesting work that needs to get done. Volunteers get to try out and gain professional experience quickly and also make the work a better place.

Did anyone ever oppose your career plans when you were young or push you in a direction you did not want to go?

I come from a very risk averse family. My parents are both immigrants from India and struggled when they moved to the US. Understandably they wanted the best for their children (my sister and I) and felt careers in stable fields like medicine, pharmaceuticals, accounting, and engineering were the safe path to prosperity and stability. As a result, we've butted head several times over my college degree and career transitions. I bucked the trend in college. I studied English and created my own major with a focus on political science, philosophy, and economics. My parents were very unhappy with the decision but I held my own ground and cultivated diverse experiences studying abroad, volunteering with nonprofits, and interning with a NGO. Ironically, when I graduated the first job out of college was working in IT with an insurance company. It was a solid safe job that my parents were thrilled I got. But I was incredibly bored and frustrated so I left. This didn't sit well with my parents, but I chose to pursue opportunities I felt were right for me at that time. My next job was at Harvard, first working as a business analyst. Again I found myself under challenged and bored, so I switched to a research analyst position with the Office of the President and Provost instead. It was a prestigious position and an interesting job, which I did for 2.5 years. When I found myself limited in growth and advancement opportunities, I knew it was time to change. My parents were very unhappy with that decision. But it was right decision because it gave me a chance to both grow financially (paid significantly more) and change into a field I found very exciting and challenging (Artificial Intelligence). I've spent the last year learning as much as I can about artificial intelligence and machine learning at the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence and the Allen Institute for Brain Science. I'll be transitioning again to work at startup as a data scientist, where I'll be developing AI bots. You'll find in my story that I've changed jobs many times. Every change was met with resistance from my parents, because they were afraid of the risks I was taking leaving a stable job. However, each risk I took was a calculated one and each one paid off (higher salaries, new skills, and most importantly learning what I didn't enjoy). It's ok not to know what you want to do in life. Honestly, after 5 jobs in 4 different fields over 10 years, I'm still not sure. But that's the beauty of taking risks, experimenting, and being open new opportunities - you'll learn new things and increase the probability of finding that opportunity that may you life calling. If you are met with opposition along the way, be respectful but also be willing to push past it.

How did you start building your network?

Honestly, I'm pretty terrible at developing a traditional networking (I still don't have a business card). My philosophy is simple, be kind, compassionate, and surround yourself by people who share the same values as you. My professional network really is set of people I've come to know through volunteering, having similar intellectual and professional interests as me, and people I've directly worked with. If I see someone that I admire working on projects in an area I find interesting, I'll reach out and see if there is any way I can volunteer to help them and as a result learn more about their work.


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Career plans Dhairya has reviewed

4 reviews needed!

Posted on May 12 '16 at 22:07

I want to double major in economics and political science and possibly go after a law degree and work in the government possibly becoming a politician or a economic advisor to legislatures.

Context: I will attend UC San Diego and double major in political science and economics, during my undergrad I will work towards getting internships with economists and government officials to make connections in the community and to also learn under them.
College: N/A
Other Education: N/A
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Job Experience: N/A
Soft Skills: N/A
Hard Skills: N/A
Other: N/A #computer-science #computer-software

icon-country-tagsUnited States of America

4 reviews needed!

Posted on May 24 '16 at 02:55

Ever since I took my first college class last semester, an online English class, I knew I liked to edit. Part of our assignment was that we had to edit other students papers before they turned them in for their final grade. Now I'm enrolled in community college and planning to transfer to an undecided four year university, hopefully next year. I want to major in English and pursue a career in editing.

Context: I'm already taking steps to reach my goal. I've enrolled in college, which is the most important step. Another step I have taken is that I am already editing for people online. I want to be ready for my career and having some experience under my belt is sure to help.
College: N/A
Other Education: N/A
Activities: N/A
Job Experience: N/A
Soft Skills: N/A
Hard Skills: N/A
Other: N/A #computer-science #computer-software

icon-country-tagsUnited States of America

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Dhairya's Questions and Answers

Answer to: How long did it take you to find related to your degree/what you intended to do?

Short answer is: its takes as long as it takes. For some, they find the perfect role right away. For many others (myself included) it can takes years of meandering, making mistakes, experimenting, and learning before we find what we are looking for. But the reality is, many people end doing...

Answer to: What will you do if your co-worker has been procrastinating, which impact your work?

Great question. As with most interview questions, there is no right answer. This question is really is more about how you handle challenging situations than your coworker in this imagined scenario. You want to think about focusing on how you would communicate (both with manager and co-worker),...

Answer to: What do you consider your most incredible achievement?

Hi Cindy, Great question and good job being proactive with interview preparation. The goal of this question is really to give the interviewer an opportunity to learn more about you. You should feel free to talk any experience you're proud of (group project, internship, sports etc). There really...

Answer to: What's the difference between computer science and software engineer?

Hi Calvin, Great question. For most college undergraduate programs there really isn't a difference between software engineering and computer science at the undergraduate level. In theory, there is a distinction between software engineering and computer science. But that distinction is...

Answer to: how can i become a humanitarian?

Hi Emily, Great question, and super excited to see that you want to make the world a better place. Michelle offers great advice above on some traditional career paths in the humanitarian relief, human rights, and diplomacy space. In addition I'd also recommend checking out the following...

Answer to: As a scientist, do you see programming becoming accurate to the point that there is no need for humans due to the increased in technology and no jobs for humans that depend on computer error?

Hi Kimberly, This is a great question! Good job think critically about future trajectories of technology and science. I've had the opportunity to work at one of the top artificial intelligence research labs and am currently working with a neuroscience research lab on developing an initiative to...

Answer to: During the first year of college do we have to take general classes?

Micayla provided a great answer above. This does depend on the school you go to. Schools like University of Rochester (my alma mater), Brown, and Carnegie Mellon don't have a core curriculum or general classes. It really depends on you as to whether a core curriculum is useful or not. If you...

Answer to: Are unpaid internships worth it?

Hi Cecilia, Great question. I empathize, I also worked while I was in college to pay off school loans. It's a difficult place to be balancing school, work, and personal life . Aubree provided some great advice above. Here's a few more thoughts. Unpaid internships are tricky. Some will...

Answer to: Where and how can I job shadow a Firefighter?

Hi Anthony, Great question. I'd suggest first finding where the nearest fire department to you is. You can use the internet or ask a teacher for help. Make sure you get the fire department's email address. Then ask a teacher or an adult to help you contact them to learn more. Fire departments...

Answer to: What are the beginning steps to start a Nonprofit?

Hi Branden, It's awesome to see that you want to start a nonprofit and make the world a better place. Before starting a non-profit, I highly recommend volunteering at an existing one. There many existing non-profits doing great work that need a lot of help. Volunteering at a non-profit will...

Answer to: I am a 11th Grade Student. I love Coding. I have already achieved the knowledge of Web Development but i want to take my Knowledge Furhter. SO What Shall i do to Enter in Software Engineering Directly Without completion of 12th Grade . Plz Help me with it

Hi Aadarsha, Good to see you're interested in web development. It is a huge space and there is a lot to learn. I often find that rather than just working on tutorials, it really helpful to work on real projects. If you feel like you have a solid grasp of web development, the next step is...

Answer to: i love helping paple and i wana be a doctor is it a good idea

Hi Austin, Great question! It's awesome to see that you want to help others and make the world a better place. Being a doctor is a very important job. As a doctor you can people live better lives, feel better, and make the world a better place! You should you mom more questions about being a...

Answer to: Should I take AP courses next semester or take college courses online?

Also suggest AP. Depending on your score, most colleges will confer you college credit (usually require a 4 or 5 at competitive schools, though a 3 will suffice at others). Online college classes will be more expensive, and there not often guaranteed to transfer. Especially schools like...

Answer to: Should I begin looking into technology certificates before college?

No, certs aren't useful for entry level positions and they're expensive. A bachelor's degree is more than enough. You'll see more experienced professionals getting certificates if they want to specialize in a particular area (e.g. a certified Microsoft developer or CITRIX engineer). In those...

Answer to: Is it difficult to score a job at Google or Microsoft as a computer science major?

Hi Christopher, Great question. Short answer is it depends. Microsoft and Google are very competitive when it comes to hiring software engineers. However, as a a student there are several avenues to getting in companies like those two and other high tech companies (e.g. Amazon, Palantir,...

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