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Statement of Purpose - UC Berkeley - Data Science


kittybetty 1 / 1  
Sep 4, 2021   #1
Hi all,

Any feedback regarding my Statement of Purpose is appreciated!

This has too many specific writing considerations for a free consult. Please contact us privately. EF

This the requirement of the Statement of Purpose for UC Berkeley's Data Science program (there is no word limit, but the program consultant says it should be within 2 pages):

Please describe your aptitude and motivation for graduate study in Data Science, including your preparation for this field of study and your future career goals. Please be specific about why the UC Berkeley MIDS program would be a good intellectual fit for you.

There is an attached video provided by the program consultant that addressed the following writing tips:

1. introduce yourself, your interest and your motivations. Explain why data science interests you and why you want to pursue your masters and data science; keep this brief

2. Summarize your academic background ,including undergraduate and graduate study, feel free to discuss your research or projects with particular focus on quantitative work.
3. Discuss any relevant professional experience that has prepared you for the MIDS program. Elaborate on your work experience, recent projects and what you've learned. Be sure to highlight experiences that demonstrate your analytical abilities, explain how graduate school will help achieve your career goals

4. Discuss areas of study that interests you the most. Provide enough detail to convince us that you understand the program and that you're engaged with current industry themes.


The following is my Statement of Purpose

(I'm not native speaker):

The red plum blossoms revealed their fragrance on the branches, swaying in the cold winter wind, and blooming remarkably in the ice and snow. In the icy world, the red plum blossoms have become a beautiful landscape. The harshness of winter and the coldness of snow are the unavoidable pain that the plum tree can ever avoid; if they overcome it, they can bloom with brilliant colors. As far as I can see, life is the same. My life experience is like plum blossoms, slowly growing from a seed to a big tree, waiting for the day when it blooms stunningly.

I was born and raised in a small town in China, where students were not allowed to use laptops at school because teachers were afraid that they may spend too much time playing games on them. I didn't own a laptop until I came to the United States at age eighteen. At that moment, I was like a muddleheaded seed. The outside world was full of strangeness to me, making me look forward to but also afraid. Programming class was required in my freshman year, where I started writing my first line of code, and then the first function, the first project. Seeing the code I wrote instructing the robot to do all kinds of stuff, I knew that's what I'm passionate about and willing to do for my career. The challenging yet fascinating classes I took validated my thoughts - algorithms, artificial intelligence, machine learning, database, computer graphics, etc. Besides these, I also did research with professors for three semesters, where I designed and implemented the full stack of an Android app to track asthma patients' health conditions. Slowly, I began to adapt to university life. The help I received from professors and classmates made me feel safe and warm; the seed seemed to have found a big family and has developed a sense of belonging.

In order to grow quickly, the seed worked hard to absorb nutrients from the soil, waiting for the moment to break the ground. Not only did I handle the demanding school courses well, but I also gained lots of experience from the real industrial world. I joined my school's co-op program, which meant alternating semesters of school and work. I worked in Dell SecureWorks for three semesters, where I utilized the knowledge I learned in school and also expanded my skills to the real industry. I learned many helpful techniques from this co-op program: RESTful Web service, Spring Security framework, Ajax, Mockito library, MySql, Java Database Connectivity, PHP, AngularJS, Bootstrap, scraping, multi-threading, etc. After the co-op program was completed, I joined Yahoo for an internship, where I got familiar with big data and MapReduce. I worked on Yahoo's audience data systems with massive scale, which handled over 100 billion events per day. My project decreased input records by 99% and reduced cumulative CPU time by 60%. At the end of the internship, I wrote a paper and it was accepted to Extremely Large Databases Conference 2017. During college, I not only learned professional knowledge and kept a high GPA, but also gained broad knowledge from working in different companies. My college life was really fascinating and fulfilling. I could never forget how thrilled I was when I received a job offer from Google in New York- my dream company in my favorite city. I never heard about anyone getting hired by Google as an undergraduate new grad in my school before. At that moment, the seed sprouted, poked its head out of the ground and looked around excitedly and curiously under the spring sun.

In order for the small bud to grow into a big tree, it worked hard every day to absorb sunlight and nutrients, and actively grow upward. My positive attitude towards challenges helps me to excel at work. I joined the Google Ad Manager team, where we serve ads for big publishers, e.g., New York Times and Disney. The whole system was written in a strange language to me - C++, and the system is so complicated that many new hires decided to transfer to other teams rather than dealing with the complexity. I knew anything can be resolved with a certain amount of determination. I picked one of the most difficult projects, but also has the most impact - which fundamentally shifted the architecture to generate higher revenue. I designed and implemented this project independently, and drove it to finish with high quality. I was rewarded with an Engineering Excellence award and got promoted. During this project, I also faced the challenge that some engineers from the feature team were not convinced that this huge infra change would bring much benefit, and my work got blocked. I proactively communicated with them and persuaded them in the end. They even became strong supporters towards my promotion. I also worked on several code health related projects, and my favorite one was "Ad Selection Data Simplification", which made engineers' life significantly easier that I got the Code Health reward. In the process of growing up, the small bud would not always encounter sunny weather, and sometimes it had to fight against violent storms. As long as it faced with a positive attitude and an optimistic mood, it can always usher in a bright scenery.

Gradually, the small bud grew into a young sapling. In order to make itself strong, it continued to grow hard. The field in Google I've been working on for four years is ads' selection. The system to select the best ad to serve is still mechanic. Nowadays, our team is also developing machine learning models to predict the best ad to serve that users are more likely to view or click on, but the results are not satisfying, which cannot beat the current non-machine learning system we have. Therefore, I want to learn more in this area to develop a better machine learning model to select ads, and optimize more components in our system to utilize machine learning techniques. Additionally, I have a long term goal, that is, bringing traditional Chinese medicine to more countries. Many people are not convinced that this traditional Chinese medicine works because traditional Chinese doctors cannot explain why it works. Traditional Chinese doctors diagnose patients' symptoms and then prescribe different combinations of Chinese herbal medicine. They know what kinds of Chinese herbal medicine should be given based on different kinds of symptoms, but they cannot explain the logic behind it. I believe in Chinese herbal medicine because my sickness got healed most of the time with the doctors' prescriptions, so I think there is logic in this traditional medicine and it's just not found out yet. Even though it's a traditional industry, the symptoms can be clearly labeled for machine learning. If this can be verified with a machine learning model, more people will be convinced and benefit from this ancient medicine. Moreover, I want to develop an app where patients can get a diagnosis and the prescription conveniently.

The young sapling wants to continue to absorb nutrients to prepare for the gorgeous bloom, which is the reason why I'm applying for the Data Science program at UC Berkeley. UC Berkeley was my dream school when I was in college. I visited the campus once and it was breathtakingly beautiful. UC Berkeley is known for holding the best data science program and there are so many classes I look forward to, such as Applied Machine Learning, Deep Learning, Natural Language Processing, etc. What impresses me the most is the excellent diverse faculty. Googler professor Gillick teaches Applied Machine Learning; Professor Greiner who has a bachelor's degree in both biomedical science and theater teaches data visualization; Professor Shanahan who spent 20 years as a dairy farmer is now teaching Machine Learning at Scale. I always admire diversity, which is also the reason I love Google and New York, both of which embrace and value diversity. I could not be more certain that UC Berkeley is the place I want to be.

Day and day, the sapling grew taller and taller, stronger and stronger. Day by day, I'm excited to see a better self: from knowing nothing about computers to graduating from one of the most demanding schools - Georgia Institute of Technology with a 3.94 GPA, to joining my dream company Google as a software engineer. I am excited to start the next chapter and testify what I could achieve. The saplings will not be afraid of wind and rain, but strive to grow stronger all the time. One day, it will bloom proudly in the icy wind and show the beauty of red.
Holt  Educational Consultant - / 11,707 3785  
Sep 8, 2021   #2
This essay is an excellent creative writing piece, but is not useful when presented to a reviewer who has given you one paragraph to summarize your response and hold his interest. Berkley is a campus filled with people who do not waste time. Which is what this erway successfully does.Do not follow the program consultant's advice. Your writing is not set within an academic tone and mindset. As a future scientist, the reviewer will look more for proof of accomplishments rather than these mere enumerations. The claims of accomplishments need to be backed up by accolades, recognition and much more than just your claims. Do not be too creative in your writing.

The work often sounds too much like storytelling time instead of a formal witten interview. The essay lacks in impact and notability because of this. Work on impactful writing rather than whimsical narrations. The overall essay, in my opinion, needs a rewrite. A new version focusing on properly developed data in relation to the actual prompt, not the consultant's writing instructions. This is not going to help make your application more considerable as the total content and presentation is forgettable.

Write based on the university instructions if you want to have a more appropiate and correct content based presentation. That is what is required. That is what should be presented.
OP kittybetty 1 / 1  
Sep 9, 2021   #3
@Holt

Thank you so much for the helpful advise and suggestion! I have revised the essay as the following. Please take another look :)

"Once we accept our limits, we go beyond them". Albert Einstein once said. I believe that self improvement is achieved by consistently doing something different and out of the comfort zone. I enjoy doing something challenging and driving it from start to the finish line, and then embrace the next challenge. Day by day, I'm excited to see a better self - from knowing nothing about computers to graduating from one of the most demanding schools - Georgia Institute of Technology with a 3.94 GPA, to joining my dream company Google as a software engineer. I am excited to start the next chapter and testify what I could achieve.

I was born and raised in a small town in China and didn't own a laptop until I came to the United States at age 18. Seeing the code I wrote instructing the robot to do all kinds of stuff for the first time, I knew that's what I'm passionate about and willing to do for my career. The challenging yet fascinating classes I took validated my thoughts - algorithms, artificial intelligence, machine learning, database, computer graphics, etc. Besides these, I also did research with professors for 3 semesters, where I designed and implemented the full stack of an Android app to track asthma patient's health conditions.

Not only did I handle the demanding school courses well, but I also gained lots of experience from the real industrial world. I joined my school's co-op program, which means alternating semesters of school and work. I worked in Dell SecureWorks for 3 semesters, where I learned many helpful real industry techniques: RESTful Web service, MySql, Java Database Connectivity, AngularJS, Bootstrap, scraping, multi-threading, etc. On the last day of my co-op program, my manager said that I was the student who improved the fastest and urged me to return to his team as a fulltime. Wondering what Silicon Valley is like, I joined Yahoo in Sunnyvale for an internship, where I got familiar with big data and MapReduce. I worked on Yahoo's audience data systems with massive scale, which handle over 100 billion events per day. My project decreased input records by 99% and reduced cumulative CPU time by 60%. At the end of the internship, I wrote a paper and it was accepted to Extremely Large Databases Conference 2017. This internship got me familiar with big data, and developed a great interest towards it. Afterwards, I also received a return offer from Yahoo.

Normally it would take 5 years to graduate with the co-op program, but I only spent 4 years and 4 months in college by utilizing all the summers for either work or classes. I not only learned the knowledge the school taught me and kept a high GPA, but also gained broad real industrial knowledge from working in different companies. Even though I sacrificed some leisure - I never got a long vacation in college since sophomore year and slept in the library for 2 weeks to save time to study for finals, my life in college was really fascinating and fulfilling. Google has become my dream company since freshman year, but I knew it was very difficult as I never heard about anyone getting hired by Google as an undergraduate new grad in my school. I could never forget the feeling when I got the offer from Google in New York - my dream company in my favorite place. All the hard work paid off!

I joined the Google Ad Manager team, where we serve ads for big publishers, e.g., New York Times and Disney. The system is so complicated that many new hires decided to transfer to other teams rather than dealing with the complexity. I knew anything can be resolved with a certain amount of determination. I picked one of the most difficult projects, but also had the most impact - which fundamentally shifted the architecture to generate higher revenue. I designed and implemented this project, and drove it to finish with high quality. My project handled over 900,000 QPS and provided optimization opportunities for $8B in revenue. I was rewarded with an Engineering Excellence Award (19 out of 2,078 participants) and a Spot Bonus from the VP and got promoted afterwards. I was also recognized by several code health related projects which significantly improved engineering velocity and simplified the infrastructure. I was recognized as "Notable Code Health Contributor'' (10 out of 105 participants) twice and complimented by our 3 levels' higher manager who rarely commented on any project. During my work, I also demonstrated my leadership by organizing several Fixit (105 participants), and received a Spot Bonus from the director. I am generous with my knowledge and time, for which I received a Peer Bonus for serving as a helpful technical consultant.

The field in Google I've been working on for four years is ads' selection. The system to select the best ad to serve is still mechanic nowadays. There are lots of layers' logic, and many aspects such as ads' delivery rate and delivery goal, publishers' subscription level, ads' previous view/click rate, ads' targeting setting, etc., need to be taken into account. These make the ads' system extremely complicated and difficult for new hires to ramp up, which costs high maintenance burden and low engineering velocity. If I can develop a good machine learning model to select the best ad to serve and treat the whole ads' selection as a black box, I can reduce the maintenance burden and increase engineering velocity crucially. Therefore, I want to learn more in this area to develop a better machine learning model to select ads, and optimize more components in our ads system to utilize machine learning techniques. Additionally, I have a long term goal personally, that is, bringing traditional Chinese medicine to more countries. Many people are not convinced that this traditional Chinese medicine works because traditional Chinese doctors cannot explain why it works. I want to use the machine learning model to verify that there is such a logic behind this ancient medicine and more people will be convinced and benefit from it. Moreover, I want to develop an app where patients can get a diagnosis and the prescription conveniently.

I was so thrilled when I found out that UC Berkeley offers an online master for data science. UC Berkeley was my dream school when I was in college. I visited the campus once and it was breathtakingly beautiful. UC Berkeley is known for holding the best data science program. I read through all the courses in this program online and there are so many classes I look forward to - Applied Machine Learning, Deep Learning, Natural Language Processing, etc. What surprised me more is the excellent diverse faculty. Googler professor Gillick teaches Applied Machine Learning; Professor Greiner who has bachelor degree in both biomedical science and theater teaches data visualization; Professor Shanahan who spent 20 years as a dairy farmer is now teaching Machine Learning at Scale. I always admire diversity, which is also the reason I love Google and New York - they all embrace and value diversity. I'm more certain that UC Berkeley is the place I want to be.

Amazingly, it's been 4 years since I joined Google. In the past, after 4 years in Georgia Institute of Technology, I joined Google - a more challenging and fulfilling platform. Now I am ready for this new challenge and I believe I will excel, like how I grew and excelled in Google.


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