With little industry knowledge or previous experience of computer science, Raymond caught up fast during his Masters.
Originally from County Durham, Raymond studied engineering for his first degree, but eventually decided to focus on robotics and computer science during his Masters. The DeepMind Scholarship helped him feel more at home in the industry and introduced him to other students and skills to help him prepare for his career ahead.
Having a DeepMind mentor was also invaluable. Not only was he able to give me insight into the industry as a whole, he was able to help me think through what direction I wanted to go in my career."
In conversation with Raymond
Tell us about your DeepMind Scholarship experience.
As the first in my family to pursue higher education or establish a career, I had very little access to knowledge or advice about entering the professional or academic world - which was pretty alienating. Though the scholarship programme, we were taught interview skills and had access to conferences and other members of the DeepMind team. It was way more helpful than I ever imagined.
Without the scholarship support I wouldn't have been able to complete my degree. Before receiving it, I calculated that the money required was far in excess of my family’s entire yearly income - and the postgraduate loan didn't even cover my tuition. I began commuting four hours a day to work at an internship to fund my degree, ultimately using all earnings for a fee deposit.
DeepMind’s financial support meant that I didn't have to work long hours outside of my degree, and I could focus entirely on my academic work and career progression. This resulted in me receiving a high distinction for my degree, publishing my dissertation project in a high-impact medical AI conference, and securing a job in my desired field. DeepMind’s support undoubtedly enabled me to achieve all of this.
What else did you do as part of the programme?
We went to the offices to meet the Founder and CEO of DeepMind, our mentors, as well as fellow Scholars from other universities. That’s another benefit - meeting and being able to speak with other people from similar groups. It was nice to get to know them since we were all going through a similar experience.
We also had a day at DeepMind that focused on computer science job interviews, which are very different to technical engineering interviews - I was very appreciative of the guidance. They enabled us to go to CogX which is one of the UK’s biggest AI conferences. Of course it was virtual this year, but it gave us a lot of insight into different industries - such as creative technologies that you don’t necessarily have access to by doing a computer-science based course.
How did having a mentor positively impact your studies?
Having a DeepMind mentor was invaluable. Not only was he able to give me insight into the industry as a whole, he was able to help me think through what direction I wanted to go in my career. I used to think I was only interested in pursuing a future in research, but through conversations with my mentor and exposure at conferences, I started to equally consider applications of machine learning and computer science.
What are you doing now?
I am working as a Research and Development Software Engineer at a marketing agency which mainly focuses on augmented reality products. My work now heavily involves both research and application, including reading papers, theorising new products and creating data pipelines and machine learning models which will practically work on highly constrained platforms.
What is one piece of advice you would give new scholars?
Take advantage of what you’re given. Attend all of the interview days and speak with your mentor. Also, it's so useful to meet your fellow scholars. Some of them will be from a similar university, but if you’re like me and did your undergraduate studies at a different university, it’s a good way to get to know people and feel like you fit in.