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Farsiya Afaque Ahmed

MSc Applied AI and Data Science
Graduated 2023

Headshot of Farsiya Afaque Ahmed, Solent master's graduate

After working as a communications officer for five years in India, the pandemic ignited Farsiya’s interest back to her bachelor’s degree subject, computer science. She decided to make the leap back to study and enrolled on MSc Applied AI and Data Science to get her back on her career path.

Why did you decide to do a postgraduate course?

With a background in computer science and five years of experience as a communication officer in the Police department in India, I found myself yearning to work as a developer and showcase the skills I had acquired during my bachelor's degree. However, during the Covid pandemic, as a front-end force, I never had the opportunity to work from home, which raised concerns for the safety of my family and child. It was then that I realised the importance of pursuing my interests and making a leap back into my desired field. Given the five-year gap, I sought a strong platform to re-establish myself and find a way to return to my passion for software development.

What was the best thing about your course lecturers?

The most remarkable aspect of my university experience and lecturers was their inclusivity. Despite coming from a completely different culture and environment, I always felt a strong sense of belonging. There was something I could always relate to in this place. The support from my lecturers was exceptional; they were always available to assist me with any doubts related to assessments, provide job references, and offer invaluable career support. Their unwavering support has been instrumental in my academic and professional journey, making me feel valued and empowered throughout my time at the university.

Did you have any concerns about studying a postgraduate course?

I had several concerns as an international student and a mother of a 2-year-old. I worried about whether I could handle my responsibilities effectively and manage my expenses. To ease my worries, I began discussing these challenges with my friends at the university, who were facing similar issues. To address my financial situation and integrate into the university community, I took up roles as a Learning Assistant in tech support and at the library. Through these experiences, I gained valuable insights into the culture and environment of the university, which further aided in my adjustment and overall experience here.

 

The support from my lecturers was exceptional; they were always available to assist me with any doubts related to assessments, provide job references, and offer invaluable career support.

Have your studies helped you with your current role?

Yes of course. I have acquired proficiency in machine learning and the coding language Python. Presently, I hold the position of a software engineer in data science. During my university days, I engaged in assessments that involved developing various artefacts, focusing on machine learning and Python. This experience not only enhanced my coding skills but also honed my presentation abilities. As a result, I now approach my current role with confidence and can proficiently handle the tasks at hand.

Did you do any work experience as part of your course?

While conducting research for my dissertation, I held the role of a facilitator in technology-enhanced learning at Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust. My primary responsibility was to create a virtual ward, enabling nursing students to practice and enhance their learning skills in a virtual environment. The idea was incredibly captivating, and I felt a strong desire to contribute something valuable to the community. Consequently, I devoted my efforts to developing a virtual reality ward for nursing students, and for my dissertation research work, I integrated machine learning into the software. In doing so, I learned teamwork and the software development process.

Do you have any advice for anyone thinking of studying a postgraduate course?

This course is incredibly rewarding, and upon completion, it unlocks a plethora of opportunities in various fields, including healthcare, military, defence, commercial sectors, and beyond. With the booming presence of AI and Machine Learning, one can discover a multitude of excellent career prospects to explore and thrive in. The possibilities are vast, and the potential for growth and impact is immense in these exciting domains.

Tell us a bit about your experience as a postgraduate student?

At the start of the course, I had numerous concerns about my studies due to the five-year gap, but with the invaluable assistance of my lecturers and friends, I triumphed. Throughout this course, I have gained substantial knowledge, showing great resilience in the face of rejections while maintaining unwavering hope, knowing that this degree would unlock countless opportunities. Upon completing my master's, three different companies extended offers, leaving me in a state of confusion. Fortunately, my lecturer once again provided me with the guidance needed to make the right decision. Notably, I secured a Global Talent Visa, and I must credit my lecturers for their continuous support and direction in helping me select the best path. Presently, I hold the position of Software Engineer in Data Science- KTP Associate at the University of Portsmouth and Subsea Craft Ltd. The curriculum honed all the essential skills for this role, and I am immensely grateful to my lecturers for their unwavering support and guidance throughout this journey.