Shahul: The Young boy from Kochi who became a Kaggle Master

Where there is a will there’s a way. We have heard this quote so many times and felt motivated from it. But only a few are able to implement it in its true spirit. Shahul is one such freelancer who knew he wanted to make a career in data science and he applied all his energy in making one. Result is he is now a Kaggle master , in top 20 among 100000+ data scientists on Kaggle and a flourishing freelancer. Read more about his story here: 

Tell us about yourself? Where are you from? About your family, parents? Your educational background?

I was born and brought up in Kochi, Kerala. I come from a middle-class family with not much educational background. I did my schooling from a CBSE board school. I was an average student until secondary school. During high school, I developed a liking for science and studies.  I passed out of school as one of the toppers from the batch. After that, I joined the Govt. Model Engineering College and graduated with a B Tech Degree in Computer Science & Engineering. 

Was Data science your first choice of profession?

Data science was love at first sight for me. I instantly developed an interest in this field and had the curiosity to know more. I started learning Data Science when I was a sophomore in college. To implement the theoretical knowledge gained, I regularly started practicing Data Science. I never believed in giving up. I have got hands-on experience in Data Analytics, Machine learning, Deep learning, and Natural language processing, and Model Deployment and serving. I have put in constant hard work and dedication to grow in this profession. I consider myself a lifelong learner.

When did you start freelancing? Did you plan it or how it happened?

Getting into freelancing was not something that I had planned initially. It all started when I was an active member of the LinkedIn platform. It gave me an opportunity to constantly interact with professionals in the field and expand my network. Through this, one day I got an offer to do some project work. It was my first earning and that is how I started with freelance work. Post that, I did many projects. I have worked with individuals as well as with startups.

When did you think I can move into freelancing for full time?

After I completed my graduation in Computer Science & Engineering, I wanted to work on my own startup. I started with the venture but eventually, it failed. Being aware of the scope in the field of Data Science and after realizing the opportunities available by working as a freelancer, I wanted to do freelancing full-time. I knew it was the best option for me. 

All this while you were doing so many things and this is not the general path children in India take, how was the support from your family?

My belief is to focus on the work and put in my best foot forward for each project, success will follow eventually. Due to the pressure put by the Indian society on the students, I have witnessed so many students trying to get attention and be a know-it-all by faking themselves in multiple ways in front of others. Never take these shortcuts. You might gain temporary happiness and satisfaction. But to sustain in the long-term, always believe in yourself, and show determination and perseverance. 

What according to you is the best or worst thing about freelancing?

The thing that has proved to be the best for me is the freedom that comes along with freelancing. I cherish the independence that I have. Since freelancing, I feel like I have better control over my life. 

Just like any other working style, freelancing also has its own pros and cons. The thing about freelancing that does not appeal to me is the instability factor. In freelancing as you work on a contractual basis, there is no stability in your income. This is a high-risk factor, and many people have second thoughts about freelancing due to this only. 

What is the one thing you hate about clients? What can they do to make your life better?

Efficient human interactions, and building good relations with your client is the way to go ahead. In freelancing, I have had the opportunity to work with various kinds of people. Sometimes I come across clients who do not really know what exactly they want. Their excuse is to pull out “I am the business guy” card. It is really difficult to work and meet expectations when you get an unclear and vague brief and believe me that this is something that all freelancers hate.

What is your best work to date? Why do you think is the best?

Within my portfolio, there are many projects that I like. The ones that I admire the most are mostly the Fintech projects. I really enjoyed working on those. I think Fintech as industry interests me the most and that is why these projects have proved to be the best. 

What are your mission and vision? How do you want history to look at you?

As I said earlier, I think one is never too old to learn and there is no such thing as gaining enough knowledge. There is always scope to grow and learn more. In the near future, my aim is to work closely with industry experts to get more exposure and insights. I believe you get to learn and know so much from their journey and experiences in the field. I wish to acquire more knowledge and experience in my field. 

Shahul can be reached out on Twitter, LinkedIn and his own website.

Wary about sales? No more! Read our blog on Sales 101 for freelancers here.