Mohamed Ahmed

Software Developer, Vivomente
Big Data and Hadoop Certification Training,
Data Science Training
Before DeZyre:
Java Front-end Developer
The best thing about DeZyre Hadoop classes is that, it uses real examples in class. This gives a deeper understanding of the material as against me just looking at slides.

DeZyre: I wanted to understand the career path that you have taken. How did you build your career to where you are right now? Many of our community professionals have this question.

Mohamed: That's a good question. I have been working for the past 6 years with TASKE Technology. Before that I used to work with some other development companies. Basically I have been working as a Java developer-mostly with Java enterprise stack. I used to do a lot of Java front-end work, mostly the UI etc.

In 2014, I was having a conversation with a friend and I was telling him I was interested in doing a lot more back-end development. My friend pointed out Hadoop to me, telling me that this is a technology that is getting very popular very fast. After doing some research, I figured out that pursuing a Hadoop career will put me on a good career path in back-end development instead of doing front-end development.

Front-end UI is something anyone junior from college can do, but back-end server technology is more complex and there are far more senior positions, better salary and more opportunities. So I decided that Hadoop is my technology of choice since I will be working with data, middle layers and a lot of server side programing.

I have a good background in databases so that would help me understand HDFS, unstructured data etc.

DeZyre: Before you started learning Hadoop, did you come across any big data projects at work?

Mohamed: No, I actually didn't. I think I was kind of introduced to Hadoop projects through my friends. We were all talking about our careers and how to grow our careers and the Hadoop topic kept coming up. One of my friends who travels a lot, mentioned to me that Hadoop was an upcoming technology in Silicon Valley and broadly in the US. He also told me that a lot of web companies were using it.

So I started in Hadoop not because I needed it at work, but I wanted to grow in my career and I knew I had learnt new skills to do so.

DeZyre: Once you decided that you wanted to learn Hadoop, other than enrolling for a DeZyre courses, where there other things you did to enhance your Hadoop skills?

Mohamed: I bought the book called "Hadoop Definitive Guide". I started reading this book and it was very helpful. Sometimes I would read a concept in the book and I could watch it done hands-on in the DeZyre class. So that reinforcement was very helpful. Then if there were some topics I did not understand in the book, I would get it clarified from the DeZyre instructor.

DeZyre: How was your DeZyre experience?

Mohamed: I found DeZyre through google search. When I visited your site, there was a sample video of a live class. I was really impressed with the instructor who was teaching that class - the way he was articulating himself, the way he was breaking down and explaining things. He was a phenomenal instructor and I ended up having a great time.

One of the experiences I had in university is that, many professors would be very smart but they can't just teach. From that perspective the course I did with you was very valuable - because teaching is a craft of its own. Knowing the material is one thing, but delivering the session is very critical. This has always been key for me. This is one thing I really enjoyed about your course.

I know that everybody's different, but I think for most people the instructor is most important. One of the experiences that I had at university was that sometimes you get these instructors that are very smart, but unfortunately whether it's the language or different things, they can't teach.

I really liked the fact that we used to run real examples in class. This gives you a deeper understanding of the material as against me just looking at slides.

Soon after the DeZyre course, I was lucky to get involved in a Big Data project.

DeZyre: What have been some interesting learning's from the Big Data projects you have worked on?

Mohamed: As I started becoming a Data Engineer, I realized that a lot of the value in Big Data comes from understanding what algorithms to use for what kind of data and how to extract meaningful information. This is when I realized I need to learn Data Science as well. Because as a Data Engineer, many times you will be working with a Data Scientist.

So I enrolled for the Data Science class at DeZyre.

DeZyre: Is this how you are shaping your career? You are beginning to do Data Engineer roles right now?

Mohamed: Yes right now, like I said I was working on a Big Data project for 6 months that concluded recently. Right now there is another project that I'll be starting soon and that's also a Data Engineer project. Now these projects are mostly small opportunities that I've come upon through contacts.

DeZyre: What is the exact role of a Data Engineer?

Mohamed: In my role, I sometimes work with a Hadoop Administration who sets up the cluster. I work with Flume and Hive to configure them. I work with HDFS, writing MapReduce jobs etc.

In my opinion, the job role of a Hadoop Developer or Data Engineer are very similar, if not identical. It involves all kinds of configuration, custom development, database development, SQL queries etc.

I work with Data Scientists quite a bit and they decide what algorithms to work with, set up the data pipeline etc. This is why I signed up for a Data Science course as well. Sometimes I worry that I am spreading myself too thin, by learning both Hadoop and Data Science. But I think that's where the world is moving towards.

DeZyre: What you say makes sense. Since at DeZyre we do a lot of corporate training. In all this customized training, the curriculum the companies give us always includes both Hadoop and Data Science.

DeZyre: You have made a nice transition into Hadoop. Many people try this career change and it is challenging for them. Could you share some tips on how you made this change?

Mohamed: That's a very good question. I think the fact that I networked with other people was very helpful. Even my first Hadoop project - I got that through a friends who knew someone else who was a Data Engineer.

The biggest challenge that people face is that since Hadoop is used by large companies - and large companies want to hire people with experience and not fresh developers. Its like a chicken and egg problem - you want to get a job to get experience, but companies want you to have experience before you get a job.

For me, the fact that I networked a lot played a big part in solving this problem. So I made that sacrifice and spend many, many hours, weekends, evenings etc to learn and network with other people. So, I think it also has a lot of making that sacrifice and commitment to career growth.

Learning about the ecosystem is also very helpful. Initially I has no idea of what Hadoop was. I started reading the "Silicon Angle" website a lot. This was one of the things that helped me stay motivated, since I read about how the technology was actually being used.

I used to also closely follow the "Hadoop Summit" conference. I would watch the conference on YouTube and who the experts where. This helped me understand the big picture while the course was giving information on the small pieces.

DeZyre: This is very inspiring and helpful Mohamed. Thanks a lot for your time.