• Niloufar Seraj

The Skills You Need to Acquire to Enter the AI Industry

The AI4Good Summer Lab is the first of its kind. It focuses on tackling diversity and inclusion in AI research in addition to inspiring the next generation of technical leaders to develop AI as a force for social good. Our participants went through seven weeks of intense workshops, lectures, industry tours, and networking events and completed social good projects that leverage AI. With the Summer Lab coming to an end, we asked our participants to reflect and talk about some of the key concepts that they took away from the Lab.

AI for Social Good is a Multi-Dimensional Problem

According to our participants, one of the main takeaways from the Summer Lab was the understanding that “applying AI to social good is a multi-dimensional problem”. This implies that we would need a complex, multi-dimensional solution. In order to tackle such problems, one needs to have a solid foundation in machine learning, a good understanding of society and social issues, and the ability to think critically. We are proud that our participants have started to think about how to incorporate AI into social good considering they are the future of the tech industry.

The Power of Networking

Another main concept that our participants found incredibly valuable was the power of networking. The AI industry is filled with exceptional individuals who have improved the tech industry drastically by thinking outside the box and using AI to tackle everyday problems. Each of them has their own special set of skills, point of view, problem solving abilities, and ideas. Our participants had the opportunity to meet many of these amazing people. We invited some of the biggest names in AI such as professor Martha White, professor Jenna Wiens, Gheorghe Comanici, and Caitrin Armstrong to be part of this Summer lab.

These people mentored our participants, explained key concepts, and actively transferred their knowledge to the cohort. It is our priority that our participants know the importance of building a strong network and we are glad that they picked up on its importance.

The Value of Pitching

Lastly, our 2019 cohort reflected on the importance of acquiring great public speaking skills and knowing how to pitch an idea. Just like any other industry, the AI industry feeds off of new ideas and in order to be a part of it, one needs to be able to think well, communicate diligently, and pitch their ideas. During our prototyping weeks where teams were formed, mentors were assigned, and the teams developed their own prototypes, our participants learned how to bring life to an idea, how to communicate both technical and non technical information to an audience, and how to sell their idea. The teams worked on their projects for three weeks and presented the results during Demo Night. The Demo Night consisted of one minute pitches by each team, followed by a science fair during which teams showcased their projects and answered questions. With the support and expertise of all the mentors, TAs, and industry representatives from Google, Accenture, DeepMind, Element AI, and MILA, our participants were able to create something that they can be proud of while gaining valuable skills.

The feedback received from our 2019 cohort proves that the Summer Lab is working towards its mission and is preparing its participants for a bright future in the AI industry. The AI4Good team is proud of the skill sets our participants have acquired, and cannot wait to see what they will work on next.