Wenji Zhang | Data Scientist in Seattle
The story started in 2017. I was a last year Ph.D. candidate at Kansas State University. With excitement and uncertainty in mind, I was eager to find out what future is waiting for me. During a casual talk with my lab alumni who is a data scientist working at Expedia, we were discussing the flourish of the tech industry and how companies are transforming to data-driven companies. This conversation has planted a seed in my mind, it turns out later, it has shaped me as who I am today.
One year later, I was standing outside the Bellevue HQ building and taking a photo with the Expedia logo. My journey with Expedia Group started as a Data Scientist Intern. Just like what you can imagine in your first job, it was definitely an experience of learning, contributing and growing. But life at Expedia is more than that – for me, the best part of Expedia is the culture of respect, respect of knowledge and respect of talents. I was with the ERS data science team and trying to solve a security problem by leveraging the tools of machine learning. I have taken several machine learning courses back in grad school and have done multiple “big data” projects, but I won’t call them “big data” after I saw the amount of data that Expedia gets every day. The project was challenging and we started from scratch. It requires lots of research and brainstorming to build the model. Thanks to the respect culture, your voice will not be eliminated just because you are an intern or a fresh grad. After three-months of hard-work and collaboration, we got some exciting results using a combination of NLP, deep-learning approaches. Shortly after the internship, the model we built got into production to enhance the security level of our system.
This is not the end of the story. A new journey just began! I joined EG after getting my Ph.D. degree and this time, as a full-time Data Scientist in AI Labs. As the youngest unit in Expedia Group, the team is full of talents and you can see the most cutting edge AI technologies here. It’s been an exciting and informative ride, full of learning and joy. I’m really thrilled to see the AI-driven future that we are going to build together!
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