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Interview vol.1 Hiroki Shinjo

“The Shortest Route to Future Work. Being Evaluated Makes It Worthwhile.”

Intern Student Koki Shinjo
(Osaka School of International Public Policy)

Reasons for Internship Participation

──What made you decide to participate in the internship program?

When I looked into starting something on the computer, I started Python in a casual way because I saw the potential. It was the summer of my sophomore year of college. But I wondered, “What is this really doing?” While sitting alone at home on the computer, I wondered how this was connected to the real world and how the programming I was doing now was used in society.

On the other hand, through the econometrics seminar at the university, I learned that Python has applications in society in the form of data analysis. I found it interesting that programming techniques could be connected to the econometrics I was studying.

I wanted to use the Python in a practical way outside my home, and since I had become interested in data analysis, I wanted to know how it was actually used in society. I told this to a friend, who happened to be interning at Soleil Data Dojo. The friend introduced me to the internship program, and here I am today.

Internship at SOLEIL DATA DOJO

──So you were looking for an internship where you could gain experience in data analysis in Python, and that’s how you ended up here. How do you feel now that you have actually joined the internship program?

I’m having fun. I am able to offer what I make to the people I do business with, and what I make is appreciated. I feel this is worthwhile.

I think another feature of here is that I am close to the representatives and they reflect my efforts. I am told that I can consult with him anytime about the amount of work I need to do to balance my studies, and I get the feeling that he is looking out for the individual, without the kind of lack of attention that you get at large companies.

I actually had another part-time job that I worked at for about a year, but now I am focusing on this internship because I find it rewarding to be evaluated.

──So the internship gave you an opportunity for output. What did you gain in terms of input?

Before joining the internship, I was self-taught, mainly using books and the Internet, including study methods. Since joining Soleil Data Dojo, I have been able to study more efficiently and make progress faster than before because there are many people who already have skills, so I have been able to ask for study recommendations and have them share good resources with me.

Effective Data Analysis Study

──What study methods do you recommend that you have found particularly effective?

The biggest was the hundred knocks.

It is introduced to me by Mr. Nakai, the representative of the company that manages Soleil Data Dojo, said, “If you do this, you can use it in your work”. I was skeptical at first, but when I actually got a job as an intern, I found out that it is really true. It was different from what I had studied alone in books; it was very practical.

It was easy for me to study because I was shown the shortest route that would lead to my future job.

What to Do in an Internship

──What exactly was the first thing you did when you joined the internship program?

My first work at the Soleil Data Dojo was to be in charge of a study session to teach causal inference using Python to working people. I prepared and ran the session by listening to Nakai-san and creating materials and an outline of the study session.

I was afraid at first because I am a student but was teaching a working person. I wondered if they would listen to my opinion as a student… But as the sessions went on, I was happy to hear, “Shinjo-kun, you’re doing a great job, I’ll come every time”.

──Let us know what tasks you are currently working on.

I process the data received from the client and return it to them upon request. I find it especially interesting when I am able to make a proposal that adds something extra to the customer’s request.

The first meeting was with an employee of eftax, the company that manages Soleil Data Dojo, but now I am working with them on a one-on-one basis from the meeting stage. I think it is a rare opportunity for students to talk with people who are actually working, so I feel that it is a good experience for me.

──So you’re practically involved in the real business! Isn’t it sometimes tough?

In the beginning, I couldn’t even get the request right in the first place, let alone add on to it…… In those times of trouble, the people at Soleil Data Dojo were able to help me.

Someone gave me something in less than an hour that would take me hours to do myself, and it was written in easy-to-understand code. It’s amazing …… that there are such amazing people out there, and by setting that as my goal, I’m moving forward again.

What You Can Gain Because of SOLEIL DATA DOJO

──There are many options for internships, but what are the reasons for interning at Soleil Data Dojo, and what are unique experiences that you have had here?

The seniors were all excellent people, and I felt that I wanted to do my best as well. I now have a lot of people to benchmark or aim for.

We got to know each other well as we communicated on Slack and zoom about things I didn’t understand in the project. In addition, in my case, I was able to work part-time at the university laboratory of one of the senior interns, which gave me the opportunity to talk directly with him about the projects I was commissioned to work on during my internship.

There is also a platform called Learnavi where people can share what they have learned in the field of data science and IoT, and I have published my notes on it, but it was originally created by an Indonesian engineer from eftax Corporation, which operates Soleil Data Dojo, and I checked for errors. He only speaks English, so while we communicated in English and we made modifications, we got to know each other well. We also happened to live close to each other, and on the days he came to work, we talked while going home together, which was an unexpected way to interact.

It was also good to have more opportunities to interact with people in the sciences, since people like me with a “Bunkei” humanities background don’t have much contact with people in the sciences.

Data Analysis Across the Boundaries

──When you say “Bunkei” humanities……, what are you working on at university?

I belong to the Department of International Public Policy in the Faculty of Law, studying law, political science and economics, and I have chosen the economics seminar. Although I am in the law department, I can also study economics together, and the department takes the stance that I can try both and go on to the one I want to do in the future. It is like law and economics.

Overseas, economics is often classified as a science-related field, but in Japan, it is generally associated with the “Bunkei” humanities. However, there seems to be a trend in Japan to apply the power of data to the study of the “Bunkei” as well. For example, in the field of political science, the use of data analysis methods to evaluate voting models, such as considering what kind of people go to the polls based not only on theory but also on data, is becoming more and more popular.

In my second year of college, I joined a seminar on policy evaluation and began using R and Python to analyze the impact of changes in laws on society.

──I see, data analysis is used without boundaries between the “Bunkei” humanities and sciences. Is there anything in particular that you feel you have learned from your participation in the internship?

I have many opportunities to talk with business partners, so I think the most important thing that has changed is, it is a basic thing, but I have become more aware of such things as using good language and meeting work deadlines.

I also came into touch with a lot of information about data science, such as about a laboratory that uses machine learning to predict the Bank of Japan’s exchange rates. Knowing how data science is used in society has broadened my options for the future.

Message to Students

──Looking forward to more and more of your future endeavors! In closing, please give a message to those who are not sure about internships.

Soleil Data Dojo is close to other interns and provides an environment where beginners can feel free to ask questions, so you can step up at your own pace, little by little! If you are interested in data analysis, please apply for an internship. I’m sure you’ll have some great encounters and growth ahead of you!

Editor’s note

Shinjo-san participated in the internship program because he “wanted to know how data analysis is used in society” and “wanted to use it practically. Through trial and error with the members of SOLEIL DATA DOJO, he was able to see the fruits of his efforts, and he is now beginning to see the view that lies ahead. Please take a look at the project that he is working on.

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