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Thread: Profile Evaluation - Fall 2019 Applicant - ML engineer

  1. #1
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    Profile Evaluation - Fall 2019 Applicant - ML engineer

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    I do not see too many posts by people returning to school, and leveraging experience from the workplace.
    My profile is as follows:
    1. Work Experience - Machine Learning engineer/researcher for Microsoft. Build many statistical models and develop algorithms. Will likely weave part of this into my SOP.
    2. Undergrad - Liberal arts
    Initially poor math courses (~2.5 GPA for calc series)
    ~3.7 for Econ courses including: Advanced Econometrics, Math Econ, Intro theory courses.
    3. Taken the following math from a major/top ranked public university to prepare for applying:
    Diff eq (3.6). Linear Algebra (3.6) Advanced Stats/Probability theory (4.0).
    intro to math arguments/proof writing (3.7). Multivariable calc (4.0)
    real analysis (pending - aiming 3.8)
    4. 168Q on GRE
    5. Letters of Rec - 2 undergrad professors, strong in their field with some connections (but not top 10 connections). 1 from employer to demonstrate extensive solo research experience in stats/ML based work.

    My undergrad math was poor but hopefully showcasing all the work since then signals my capability.

    Thoughts on top 20 or top 50?

    appreciate your time and input.

  2. #2

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    Re: Profile Evaluation - Fall 2019 Applicant - ML engineer

    I applied after working for two years in economic consulting (I mainly did statistical programming). My experience was that even though I worked directly with econ PhD's at my job, my work experience was not all that helpful in terms of admissions. I don't think it hurt me, but it did not give me an advantage. (I don't regret working - it put me in a more financially secure position and I became a better programmer). I ended up only getting into UCLA, after applying broadly to top 20 schools. That said, machine learning is pretty hot right now, and Microsoft is a pretty big name employer. In any case my advice to you would be to not bank on your industry experience to give you a leg up. I would also keep in mind that employer letters are heavily discounted in pure econ programs, and I ultimately chose to not use any letters from my employer. You might finally consider applying to applied economics programs or economics programs through business schools. I think industry experience is still discounted compared to research experience in their admissions process, but probably not as much.

  3. #3
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    Re: Profile Evaluation - Fall 2019 Applicant - ML engineer

    A few thoughts:

    1. top 20 may be possible, but it is worth applying widely.

    2. I would focus your applications on departments that are strong in your areas of interest. I would not put too much weight on rankings once you get outside the top 20 or 30. Focus on schools that are strong in your area.

    3. Ideally, try to get advice on where to apply from faculty who are well positioned to evaluate your strengths and the quality of departments; i.e. going beyond rankings.

    4. Key thing is to be clear in your statement (a) that you understand what economics is; and (b) what your motivation is for switching careers.

  4. #4
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    Re: Profile Evaluation - Fall 2019 Applicant - ML engineer

    I'm in a similar position (with kind of a similar background) so I'm curious to see where you end up applying! let me know when you make your decisions please

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