All posts by Ryan Swanstrom

Practice Makes Perfect – Free Data Science Interviews

The year 2019 has begun and many people have plans to become a data scientist. That is because data scientist has been ranked as one of the top jobs for the last several years. After learning the necessary skills, preparing and completing the interview can be an intimidating task. That is why interview practice is so important, and Pramp provides a free online environment for practicing a data science interview.

What is Pramp?

Pramp is a free peer-to-peer matching platform that enables you to practice a technical interview. After signing up, here is how the process works:

  1. You schedule an interview by choosing a date and time for when you would like the interview to occur.
  2. You then prepare for the interview with the materials Pramp provides. Pramp will supply interview questions and guidelines for being best prepared.
  3. Finally, you conduct the interview where you and the other person take turns interviewing each other.
  4. If desired, the process can be repeated multiple times.


Pramp takes two people preparing for a data science interview and matches them together.

Being on both sides of the interview is surprisingly very helpful. It allows you to practice your responses, and it allows you to understand what is important to the person asking questions. It is often more about understanding the problem and thinking through a solution, rather than identifying a right or wrong answer.

Pramp Live Video Interview
Pramp Live Video Interview

As a bit of a bonus, if you enjoyed interviewing with your peer and you’d like to practice with him/her again, Pramp has a feature for that. Who knows, that peer may become a friend or a coworker in the future.

Why Practice the Interview?

Even the best data scientists and engineers struggle to pass technical interviews. Let’s face it, technical interviews are challenging and intimidating. For many, the biggest challenge isn’t the coding question, but rather staying focused while solving a problem out loud and under time pressure in front of an interviewer.

Data from over 180,000 interviews scheduled on Pramp has shown that those who completed face-to-face mock interviews performed significantly better than those who just practiced alone. Plus, Pramp users have already found jobs at companies like: Google, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, Spotify, and many others.

Pramp Technical Coding Session
Pramp Technical Coding Session

More About Pramp

Pramp, a Y Combinator-funded company, has tackled the challenge of technical interviews by offering a free peer-to-peer mock interview platform helping data scientists and engineers practice technical interviews. In addition to data science, Pramp also offers interviews for:

  • Data Structures and Algorithms
  • System Design
  • Frontend Development
  • Behavioral Interviews

If you are looking to get into a data scientist or other technical role in 2019, Pramp is a site which can help you be better prepared for the interview.

Computational and Inferential Thinking Online Book

The textbook for the UC Berkeley Data Science course is available for free online at Computational and Inferential Thinking. It is an online textbook and appears to be created as a collection of Jupyter notebooks. Here are some of the topics covered:

  • An Intro to Python for Data Science
  • Basic Plotting
  • Estimation
  • Regression
  • Classification
  • and much more

The book is free and open-source.

Free Machine Learning Textbook

Christopher Bishop, a Technical Fellow at Microsoft Research, has released his textbook Pattern Recognition and Machine Learning as a free PDF download.

The book is a bit older, published in 2006, but it stills contains some great information. Some of the topics covered include:

  • Probability Distributions
  • Regression
  • Classification
  • Neural Networks
  • Ensemble Models
  • K-Means Clustering
  • and many more….

Happy Reading!

Amazon Launches Machine Learning University

Amazon just launched  ‘Machine Learning University’ to all developers. It is the same training available for internal Amazon Employees. If you are looking to learn about Amazon Web Services (AWS) offerings for data science, now might be a great time to learn. Plus, Amazon announced some new certifications for machine learning.
There are 4 different learning paths available, depending upon your goals and future job aspirations:

  • Business Decision Maker
  • Developer
  • Data Scientist
  • Data Platform Engineer

The course materials and certifications are available at AWS Machine Learning Training Site. 

Free Reinforcement Learning Textbook

Reinforcement Learning: An Introduction by Rich Sutton and Andrew Barto was recently released on October 15, 2018. The authors were kind enough to put a late draft version of the book online as a PDF. If you are hoping to learn about Reinforcement Learning, this is a great place to start.

Full text is available on a Google Drive at Reinforcement Learning. Take a look.

Good Luck and Happy Learning.

Data Science in 30 Minutes with Jake Porway of DataKind

This month, The Data Incubator is hosting another free webinar on data science. This time it features an interview with Jake Porway, founder of DataKind. Jake and DataKind are doing amazing things, so I hope you can check out the webinar.

Below are the webinar details:

Data Science in 30 Minutes: Using Data Science in the Service of Humanity

Abstract: With his non-profit, DataKind, Jake Porway connects data scientists with social causes. Picture Doctors Without Borders for data nerds—with machine learning and AI engineers parachuting in to help the UN with humanitarian tasks, like tracking virus outbreaks using mobile data. “Data is like a bucket of crude oil,” Porway says. “Potentially great, but only if someone knows how to refine it (data scientists) and someone else has vehicles that will run on it (the social sector).” In this talk, Porway discusses the strategies of DataKind, its projects and the future of big data to service humanity.

The free online webinar is:

Thu, November 15, 2018 @ 5:30 PM – 6:30 PM EST

You can register at Data Science in 30 minutes.

Microsoft Weekly Data Science News for September 07, 2018

Here are the latest articles from Microsoft regarding cloud data science products and updates. This week it includes Measuring Model Goodness, a free ebook, AI discovery days, and more AI goodness.