The role of machine learning (ML) engineers usually comprises technical skills, such as programming, software implementation, and data analysis, among others. The responsibilities may include designing and developing ML and deep learning systems, running ML tests and experiments, and implementing appropriate ML algorithms. As important as it is to have the technical knowledge on point to complete the tasks mentioned above, it is also essential that they possess a set of soft skills.
In this article, let us discuss some of the soft skills that will help ML engineers in the longer run.
Clear communication is a must-have soft-skill for any ML engineer since it plays a vital role in several scenarios, such as cracking job interviews, laying down a clear picture of the value one can bring to the organization, explaining ML concepts and topics to people from non-technical backgrounds, and finally, negotiating a salary. Excellent communication skills places an individual higher than other candidates, as it allows them to explain about the projects that they have worked on previously.
Some of the ways in which one can work on improving their communication skills are:
- Public speaking is a good way to instill confidence in an individual
- For those who do not read books, starting now could be a good option, since a lot can be learnt in the process. This includes vocabulary, sentence structures and the correct order of how to deliver a sentence.
- Controlling the flow of speaking or speaking calmly is another area where one can work on. Speaking confidently helps an individual stay in control of a situation, as ideas and sentences are usually delivered after a well-thought-out process.
ML engineers are flooded with several responsibilities, and they are usually the center point of any AI project and initiative of an organization. Their role requires maintaining constant communication with various teams or departments, due to which an ML engineer must learn how to work in a group. They may need to have a word with Database Administrators on the provisioning of data lakes and storage, or work near product designers, managers, testers, and software developers.
Teamwork leads to the establishment of a subtle ambience inside office premises, which leads to better productivity. Moreover, collaboration and communication go hand-in-hand, since better communication skills lead to better comprehension. Several ML practitioners spend a lot of time on Kaggle, which allows them to work with people, which gradually becomes a habit.
Time management helps increase productivity in a stipulated time frame and efficiently reach desired objectives. An ML engineer may be bestowed with other responsibilities, such as mentoring junior engineers, leading an entire engineering team, or researching an ML technique and algorithms. When tasked with so many different activities, an ML engineer needs to prioritize a task and assign the right amount of time to complete that task.
Since all tasks are not the same, an ML engineer should be able to understand how much time should be spent on each one of them. It is advisable to double the time than a task requires so that the task is not finished under pressure, and is checked thoroughly before being pushed forward for final execution.
An ML engineer must cultivate the trait of leadership, irrespective of what position he or she may hold in an organization. An ML engineer must inspire and motivate his or her team members whenever required, because it is a responsibility that belongs to everyone, and not just the senior employees or team lead. An engineer can display his or her passion for a project and motivate others to bring in the same kind of excitement into the work. One can also try to understand the motive of an organization behind a project and can come up with solutions or actions beyond technical capabilities that may play a significant role in the success of a project. Furthermore, an engineer can also inspire others by taking on projects which may seem impossible.
One can cultivate such traits by working with team members to understand the area where they lack motivation, and need support. One can also practice having impeccable decision-making skills by understanding the impact of projects in the long-term.
A well-defined work ethic is a combination of several elements, such as focus, discipline, motivation, inspiration, vision, productivity and hard work. An engineer may be hard-working in a short-term run, but it is also necessary to maintain consistency. Punctuality is also a must because several operations are connected directly or indirectly with a project. Punctuality is not just limited to delivering a task, but also when it comes to social gatherings set up by the organization.
It is crucial to understand that ML engineers have several responsibilities and are always on the clock. But striking the right work-life balance is a must to perform well. Due to this, they should indulge in other activities which do not involve machine learning to take their mind off work and not burn out. Also, it is best to take regular but short breaks to avoid constraints on eyes, which may be strained due to continuous working on desktops.