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Moving from Software Development into Data Science with Vaibhav Singh, Senior Data Science Manager at Klarna

This week Vaibhav shares his experience with moving from Software Development into Data Science and with immigration system in Europe.

Dr. Paras Mehta
Dr. Paras Mehta

Hi Vaibhav 👋, thanks for your time. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Hi! I come from a town called Shaktinagar in Uttar Pradesh, which is known for being the region that produces the largest amount of electricity in India. My dad used to work for NTPC and because of his job I spent my childhood in different parts of India. When I was in the 11th class in school, our family (me, my elder brother and my parents) moved to Lucknow where I took my board exams. My brother went to IIT Kanpur, so it was clear that I had to follow his footsteps and become an engineer 😄. So, I moved to Delhi to prepare for the engineering entrance exams and joined FIIT JEE. I didn't make it to IIT, but did finish my engineering in Electronics and Communication from Uttar Pradesh Technical University. I did my Masters from the University of Portsmouth in the UK in Satellite Communication Systems.

Why Germany?
Even as a kid, I dreamt of living abroad. During my bachelors, I took a course in German language out of interest. Studying in the US was not an option even though I took the GRE exam because the university fees were so high, whereas it was free to study in Germany.

I finished my bachelors in 2008 which as luck would have it, was the time of the global financial crisis. So, although I had a job offer from Wipro through campus placements, I didn't get to join the company because of the crisis. So, I decided to move to Bangalore, where my brother was working at that time and found a job there. My brother was working for a German company and had been travelling to Germany for work. So, I became really keen on doing a Masters in Germany, particularly at the Technical University of Darmstadt. But I applied too late and it didn't work out.

After that, I got in touch with an immigration consultant in Bangalore and sent applications to different universities in Europe. I finally joined the University of Portsmouth with a scholarship for my MSc.

Even as a kid, I dreamt of living abroad.

How did you end up here?
While I was studying in the UK, students graduating from UK universities got a two-year visa to look for a job and work there. It wasn't possible for me to work at a Space Agency in the UK or in Europe since that needed a special level of security clearance, which I couldn't get as a non-EU citizen. I got a job in Bristol, UK in the area of software testing and compliance for televisions and set-top boxes and worked there for two years. However, during that time a new conservative government came into power who made the visa regulations very restrictive. Unfortunately, my visa was not extended and I had move back to India in 2012. From 2012 to 2014, I was in Bangalore, but my heart was already in Europe. I was working as Software Developer at Projectplace, a Swedish company developing project management software, so I used to travel to Sweden often for work. During that time, I started looking for jobs in Germany and found one at a small startup in Berlin. After finding the job, I moved to Germany in 2014 by applying for a Blue Card.

After finding the job, I moved to Germany in 2014 by applying for a Blue Card.

How long have you worked in Germany already and in which companies/roles?
Initially, I worked as Software Developer at two mediatech startups in Berlin, but my goal was to move into Data Science. I took several online courses to learn the basics and in my next job as Python Developer at CrossLend, a payments company, I gradually moved into a Data Scientist role. After that, I joined OLX, a major marketplace and classifieds platform as Data Scientist. By the time I left OLX as Senior Data Scientist after nearly two and half years, I had accumulated solid experience in Data Science. Then, I moved to my current employer, Klarna, a major payments company from Sweden, where as Senior Data Science Manager I lead the fraud detection and the shopping app divisions comprising multiple Engineering, Analysts and Data Science teams. Interestingly, I first heard of Klarna back in 2012 during one of my visits to Sweden from Bangalore. Had it not been for those trips to Sweden, I might not have made the decision to move to Klarna from OLX.

What do you think about life here?
Life in Germany is stable and work-life balance is pretty good. It is easy to make friends in the workplace, particularly in startups and multinational companies.

Are there any advantages or difficulties that you have faced as an Indian?
The main hurdles were dealing with the bureaucracy and the usual challenges associated with moving to a new place (housing, appointments, paperwork, etc.) without much knowledge of German. I remember queueing up at 5 am in the morning at the Ausländerbehörde (visa office) to renew my visa and using a mobile app to translate everything 😄. From what I see though, all this has become much simpler now as more and more expats move to Germany. People arriving these days don't really face the same issues that we did back then.

The main hurdles were dealing with the bureaucracy and the usual challenges associated with moving to a new place (housing, appointments, paperwork, etc.) without much knowledge of German.

What would be your advice to fellow Indians looking to work in Germany?
I would suggest to get some basic knowledge of German before you move and keep learning German when you are in Germany, e.g., by taking language lessons. Try to be flexible and open to the new culture and new experiences.

Try to be flexible and open to the new culture and new experiences.

InterviewsEmployment

Dr. Paras Mehta

Paras has spent 10 yrs in software, data science, research & entrepreneurship in Germany. PhD FU Berlin | MSc 1st position | Marie Curie, Erasmus Mundus fellow | BTech DTU | Visiting Scholar Cambridge


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