Data science student joins our team

June 11, 2019

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Nikki Wilkinson recently started working at Dragonfly part time while in her third year of a BSc, majoring in maths and statistics. She could also be Victoria’s first student to graduate with a minor in data science.

“I’ve done the data science papers to 200-level, but they haven’t introduced the third-year papers yet. That means it can’t be a major, but I convinced them to give me the minor.”

The work opportunity came up from Dragonfly’s connection with Nokuthaba Sibanda who is a senior lecturer in statistics at Victoria University of Wellington.

“Nokuthaba is actually the reason I studied stats”, says Nikki. “In my first year I took a 100-level stats course along with maths and history but quickly realised that my passion lies in the numbers. Nokuthaba was an amazing lecturer. I took one of her papers the next year and it was my favourite – I wrote the exam twice and still left early. I just loved it! Having a female lecturer who was passionate about what she did and really supportive was so inspiring.”

The next year Nikki took a “fantastic” data science paper about machine learning and AI.

“I’d never done computer science before so it was a lot of work, but I was amazed at how much stats there was in machine learning – I thought it was all coding. I think having an understanding of what was actually happening and what the algorithms were doing really helped me.”

Nikki has previously worked as a ski instructor in New Zealand, America and Canada, and as a chef.

“Going back to full time study has been a huge commitment so I’m planning to work for a while when I finish. Postgrad study is definitely something I’m looking at but I’d like to save up a bit first.”

“Starting at Dragonfly has been great – and slightly overwhelming. My colleagues are very helpful and I feel really supported. It’s a happy, productive environment where people respect each other and get on with their work. I just want to suck up as much of their intelligence as I can!”