Yalda Samim: the success story of a young Afghan woman

09.02.2023 Yalda Samim had to flee Afghanistan in 2020. Once in Switzerland, she started a one-year internship with BFH’s Applied Machine Intelligence research group after enrolling through a Powercoders’ programme, which she successfully completed at the end of July 2022.

During her internship, Yalda Samin not only worked on the MemoryBox research project, but also greatly expanded her programming expertise. She also improved her German language skills within a short period of time. As a result, she obtained a language diploma which allowed her to begin part-time studies on the BSc in Computer Science programme in September 2022 and was offered a job as an undergraduate assistant for ongoing research projects at BFH.

Yalda Samim: Erfolgsgeschichte einer jungen Frau aus Afghanistan

Yalda Samim, how would you qualify your experience as an intern in the Applied Machine Intelligence research group? What was the main challenge you had to overcome? What did you particularly like?

During my internship in the Applied Machine Intelligence Research Group, I encountered several challenges such as understanding and implementing complex algorithms, familiarizing myself with new programming languages and tools, and working on the project within the time frame of the sprint meetings. However, with the guidance and support of my supervisor Mascha Kurpicz-Briki, my mentor Tomaso Leoni, and my job coach Romaine Kuonen, who were always willing to share their different knowledge and provide constructive feedback, I was able to overcome these challenges by seeking help from them, went through the resources that they guided, researching, and learning on my own, and effectively managing my time. I was involved in the project "Memory Box" on the front-end and attended user testing which helped me to understand the usage of it in real life.  A challenge I faced was understanding data structures in web-development applications. I overcame the challenge by utilizing various resources such as expert guidance, and hands-on experience through project implementation.
I enjoyed getting to know about the latest advancements in machine learning and artificial intelligence and the opportunity to work with a talented and experienced team of researchers and my mentor Tomaso. Furthermore, I learned to organize my work using agile methods and found it a valuable experience. Overall, I found my internship to be a great learning experience and I am grateful for the opportunity.

Why did you decide to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science at the end of your internship?

The hands-on experience and knowledge I gained during my internship, as well as the guidance and support of my mentor Tomaso Leoni and my supervisor Mascha Kurpicz-Briki, motivated me to pursue further education in the field. Additionally, I have always been interested in computer science and have always planned to pursue a career in it. The internship further solidified my passion and desire to keep going.

What are the major benefits of your degree programme?

I see the biggest advantages of the bachelor’s degree in Computer Science as the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding and knowledge of the subject matter, as well as the ability to improve my problem-solving skills and be a more skilled professional in the field of Applied Machine Intelligence. The degree program will provide me with a solid foundation for a career in this field, allowing me to better contribute to the research efforts of the Machine Intelligence group.

What do you enjoy most in your studies and what are you particularly committed to?

As a computer science student, one of the things I enjoy most about my studies is the opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills I am learning to real-world problems. I find it particularly satisfying to learn about the latest advancements in machine intelligence and how they can be used to solve complex problems. Additionally, I enjoy collaborating with my classmates and working together in group projects. I find it valuable to learn from my peers and share my own knowledge with them. In terms of specific coursework, I am particularly interested in the field of data science and the flow of data. I also find programming to be an enjoyable and rewarding aspect of my studies. Overall, I am motivated by the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the field of computer science and its applications to real-world problems.

In addition to your studies, you work as an undergraduate assistant for BFH’s Applied Machine Intelligence research group, with a focus on data visualisation. How can you apply what you have learned in the workplace?

In my studies, I am excited that I will be learning more about the field of Applied Machine Intelligence and data visualization in my coming semester. While I am new to these specific areas, I am eager to learn more about the various techniques and tools used in data analysis and visualization. I am also interested in gaining a deeper understanding of machine learning as I progress through my studies. I am looking forward to exploring this field of computer science and I am excited to stay updated with the latest developments and advancements in the field through my coursework. I am glad to be able to build up my knowledge and skills and applying what I learn in my future endeavours.

Has the subject “data visualisation” already been tackled on your course?

So far, I have not had any specific points of contact related to data visualization during my current semester of computer science studies. However, my overall understanding of computer systems and technology can serve as a foundation for understanding the concepts and techniques used in data visualization and machine learning. I am eagerly looking forward to my next semesters of study, where I hope to delve dive deeper into this field. Additionally, I have attended seminars organized by the Applied Machine Intelligence research group, which provided me with an opportunity to learn about data visualization and machine learning from experts in the field. Through these seminars, I have gained insights into the various projects and discussions related to data visualization and machine learning.

What are your plans and goals after graduation?

My goals and plans after graduation are to work in the field of data science and machine learning. I am particularly interested in using data visualization techniques to help organizations make data-driven decisions. My plan is to pursue a career as a data scientist, and I am considering continuing my education by pursuing a graduate degree in a related field such as data science or machine learning. I believe that this advanced education will help me develop the skills and knowledge necessary to excel in the field. I also plan to work on personal projects to improve my skills and gain more experience in the field.

Find out more