Tuesday, September 18, 2018

A (re)introduction

It is surreal that this blog has been around for almost a decade. I'm almost afraid to write here, lest someone dig up something unexpected from my undergraduate days. (Please don't. I don't know how I got away with such terrible writing.)

The reason I'm back is because I am teaching a communications skills course to undergraduate computer science students. I am asking the students to write weekly blog posts, and figured I should follow my own prompts once in a while. I want to feel the same blank screen and blinking cursors as my students.

So here I am, following this week's prompt to introduce myself to everyone in the class.

I am Lisa, currently an "Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream (CLTA)" at the University of Toronto Mississauga. The term "Teaching Stream" means that I am what is traditionally called a "Lecturer". The acronym "CLTA" means that I'll be at UTM for the next 2 years.

My path to teaching was long, winding, and full of surprises. I was once on a roller coaster called a startup. I spend several years as a data scientist, building models to make people click on ads. I published a few papers during my masters, and learned to write (more) properly. I hope that traversing the winding path of life made me a better teacher, so I that can bring together startup, industry, and academic experience to the courses I teach.

I told my students to email me if any part of my background interests them. A few students took me up on the offer. They asked, for example, about how to get an internship at Facebook. Maybe I'll share some advice here too, someday. Until then, email me with your questions about getting into grad school, getting started with machine learning, and applying for internships! It is much easier for me to share resources via email than in person.

The truth is, I never expected teaching to be a possible career option. Pursuing this career is more risky than one might realize. To add to the fun, I don't have a PhD and don't (yet) intend to get one. But what would life be if we don't take chances to do what we find meaningful?

So, if you know of universities that are hiring full time teaching staff in Computer Science, especially Machine Learning, please let me know.