Navigating My Career in AI Research and the Importance of Setting Goals
The field of machine learning, natural language processing, and artificial intelligence safety is rapidly evolving, and it is crucial for individuals interested in this field to enhance their skills and knowledge continuously. Creating clear and attainable goals is an essential part of this process. In this essay, I will discuss my seven goals to further my understanding of this field and eventually enter into research.
Why Should I Care About Your Goals?
This article is for you if you are interested in what drives and motivates me and want to impact how I approach my work and interact with others. After all, I created this blog with this intention: to publicly declare my goals and share them (and the subsequent progress) with the world. By writing this blog, I hope to find a source of support and encouragement by engaging with the greater research community. By reading this specific article, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of what drives me and what steps I plan to take to succeed as a researcher in Machine Learning.
In creating these goals, I have followed the SMART mnemonic framework to Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely goals. While using a pithy acronym is not required for writing down your goals, it is a valuable set of guidelines. Reflecting on the principles within SMART reigned in and focused my attention on goals I would be more likely to complete.
I have taken the liberty to divide these goals into Skill Development, Networking, Career Planning, and Gaining Visibility. You will find a few sentences describing these labels under their headers. Now, without further adieu, here are my goals for 2023!
Skill Development - You don’t know what you don’t know
While I have a decent handle on ML, AI, NLP, and AGI Security, there is so much I still need to learn. Completing goals within this category will better prepare me to contribute to research in the abovementioned fields, becoming a better resource for the community.
Goal 1: Taking Courses on ML, NLP, and AI Safety
The first goal is to take a course in ML, NLP, or AI Safety every quarter. This goal is crucial as it will provide me with a structured learning environment where I can learn from experts in the field. Courses will also allow me to interact with other individuals with similar interests, which can lead to valuable connections and collaborations.
Currently, I am near completing courses on Machine Learning and Deep Learning. I am also taking the AGI Safety Fundamentals course as I was admitted this spring - the first lecture will be in early February! What other courses would you recommend I take to improve my research skills? If you have any suggestions, please let me know in the comments below!
Goal 2: Creating Machine Learning Projects:
The second goal is to create a machine learning project every quarter. This goal is crucial as it will provide me with practical experience using machine learning algorithms via libraries or from scratch to analyze data and gain insights. It will also help me build a portfolio of projects I can showcase to potential employers or research advisors.
Networking - The power of your network is proportional to the value you bring to it.
I have been lucky to meet many incredible people throughout my professional career, from colleagues who inspire me through the navigation of their career, to technically impressive friends who have pushed me to be a better engineer, to researchers whose insights and outlooks encouraged me to begin this journey in the first place. Though focusing on expanding my network to future partners and coauthors, I will be better prepared to write and present research in my field of study.
Goal 3: Reaching Out to Researchers:
The third goal is to reach out to three ML, NLP, or AGI Safety researchers every week. This goal is significant as it will allow me to build connections with individuals already involved in research in this field. I can learn from their experiences, seek advice, and collaborate on future projects.
Goal 4: Reaching Out to Professors:
The fourth goal is to reach out to four ML, NLP, or AGI Safety professors every month. This goal is essential as it will allow me to engage with field experts and learn about their research. I can also discuss potential opportunities for research collaboration or to become their advisee.
Career Planning - “A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
If I am to transition from a lead engineer to a researcher successfully, I need a plan. Equally as important as a plan is having those who can guide me and hold me accountable to that plan. Meeting with my mentors will provide structure to my journey, and aid me in completing these goals which I have set for myself.
Goal 5: Meeting with Mentors:
The fifth goal is to meet with individuals who have completed or are in a PhD program every month. This goal is crucial as it will provide me with a structured environment where I can learn from individuals who have already completed the process of entering into research. I can also seek advice and receive feedback on my goals and progress.
Gaining Visibility - “You can’t be chosen if you’re not seen.”
Increased credibility, opportunities for collaboration, and access to funding and resources - are just a few of the benefits of achieving a modicum of visibility. Pursuing this goal will help grow my credibility as an academic, allowing me to bring additional value to the research community.
Goal 6: Writing Creative Articles:
The sixth goal is to write a creative article every month. This goal is significant as it will help me improve my writing skills, which will be essential in effectively communicating my research findings and ideas in the future. It will also allow me to express my thoughts and ideas creatively.
Goal 7: Writing Technical Articles:
The seventh goal is to write a technical article every three months. This goal is vital as it will allow me to write about research topics in ML, NLP, and AI Safety. It will also allow me to develop my technical writing skills, which will be crucial in effectively communicating my research findings in the future.
Goal 8: Collaborating with Researchers:
This eighth goal is to directly contribute to the research led by ML, NLP, and AI Safety researchers. This goal will help me develop collaborative skills with fellow researchers, which is paramount to the success of any researcher.
In conclusion, these seven goals are designed to further my understanding of ML, NLP, and AI Safety and eventually enter research. By setting these goals, I have created a structured plan to improve my skills and knowledge for 2023. Through taking courses, building projects, reaching out to researchers and professors, meeting with mentors, and writing articles, I am confident that I will achieve my ultimate goal of entering into research in this field.