Shah Mir Ali | Data Analyst Internship Experience

September 13, 2021

9 minutes read
9 minutes read

September 13, 2021

T-8 months to graduation ⏳

2020 felt like the worst year to graduate. My social feeds were filled with articles on how the pandemic led to millions losing their jobs. LinkedIn was bombarded with terrifying experiences the masses faced. And to make it even worse, Malaysia, the country I was studying at, just announced a strict lockdown. All of this happening in a span of a couple of weeks made me intimidated. My graduation was 8 months away and I had no clue of what to expect. 😟

T-3 months to graduation ⏳

Fast forward a few months.. I received a DM on LinkedIn. At a first glance, I assumed it to be another marketing message that I receive every week to join a paid training program or an online degree. But I was wrong, the DM was from the Founder & CEO of a startup in KSA. He basically introduced me to his company and how they are seeking young and enthusiastic individuals to help them grow in the MENA region. I replied how every other student would with gratitude, brief introduction and an interest to work with a growing team.

T-1 month to graduation ⏳

KSA finally opened their borders and I flew back home after a lockdown period of 7 months. With virtual exams being a few weeks away, the pressure was real. Meanwhile I also started applying for jobs 🔎. After an exhaustive job hunt, I heard back from 3 employers where 2 stated they are seeking fresh graduates with 3-5 years of experience (not surprised 😏) and the third looking for individuals in a different country.

Nevertheless, I kept my hopes up. One day, I saw a job posting from Sabbar and I immediately started searching my inbox only to find the DM I received 2 months ago from the Founder & CEO of the company. The job post already had 200+ applicants, but with fingers crossed and flat hopes, I clicked Apply.  

T-2 weeks to graduation ⏳

It was exam week and everything was hectic. Sleep routine was messed up and the future kept haunting me. One morning, I received an email from Sabbar, and with my blood gushing and fingers trembling; I could literally hear my heart beat faster than ever, I opened the email and read the words “Candidate for Data Analyst”. I was so delighted and relieved to see this and soon my interview path commenced.

Graduation Day 🎓

With 3 interviews, 1 challenge test and 2 final exams later, I finally made it. I graduated and received an internship offer at Sabbar. My joining was in a week and there was so much to prepare for as I had to move to Riyadh and away from my family in Jeddah. Nevertheless, I was excited to start the next journey of my life! ✈

About me 💻

From a very young age, I was interested in technology, gadgets and bodybuilding. This led me to pursue my degree in Computer Science from Monash University. I graduated in December, 2020, with a minor in Data Science. Bodybuilding is my passion and my goal is to build a fitness empire so I can help others stay fit, so stay tuned! 📻

Data Analyst Internship experience 🎢

After a smooth and warm onboarding by the CEO, Mohamed T. Ibrahim, on my first day as a data analyst, I was super excited for the week. From the first day I could sense a very transparent and supportive work environment.

First Data Dashboard

It was my first and very cold weekend 🥶 in Riyadh and the pressure was real. Sabbar was long waiting for an enthusiastic data analyst to join and create magic with data. There was just so much to explore, dive deep, and turn numbers into insights. But before doing all that we needed a main dashboard that would show everybody the key metrics in the business and aid them in staying motivated. So, I had three days (weekend) to prepare my first dashboard.

I clearly had many obstacles for this one. Firstly I had to explore the software that we were using “Metabase” to display dashboards and then get hold of the advanced “NoSql” language. I did have some experience with the language but the work here was a lot more complicated. In university, our projects just consisted of 3-5 tables to query from, but Sabbar’s database consisted of 40+ tables, 100+ columns and 100,000+ rows. Nevertheless, I downloaded a couple of books on NoSQL and MongoDb and got started. I multitasked between building metrics and learning 100s of new functions along the way.

Finally, after 3 days of hard work, the dashboard was ready. It was Sunday and as usual we had our weekly All-Hands Meeting. Everyone in the team was present and the joy and happiness I saw in their eyes when I presented the dashboard was surreal. It just meant so much for each of them.

Well.. this was just the beginning. who would’ve imagined that in the next 6 months as a data analyst, I went on to create 350+ queries, build 8 dashboards and type 20,000+ lines of code. Phew! 😅

Project Intercom 📞

Three months in and I have built enough dashboards for the team to play around with and it was time for the next project. This time I was collaborating with one of our colleagues from the product team. I must say it was an amazing experience, this project really helped me improve my project management skills. Our goal was to design and implement an onboarding system for our users in the app while ensuring maximum data recordance. We researched and had hands-on experience with different tools and software such as Tray and Intercom. During the course of this project I had multiple meetings with the technical and sales staff of these companies and it actually helped me understand both the business and technical aspects of projects.

The project lasted for around 4 weeks which consisted of research, product testing, implementation and final testing. Along the way I gained experience in RESTful APIs and data quality management. Along the course of this project both my colleague and project head were super supportive, it was my first group project and a very successful one. The areas I boosted the most were in Project management and planning. This area of improvement will definitely aid in standalone projects in the future.

Pre-Series A Fundraiser 🤑

I will never forget this project for a very very long time. This was the first time I worked directly 1-1 with our CEO Mohamed and my god it was intenseeee. It lasted one month and if I could summarize my entire time at Sabbar, it would be this 1 month that felt like a year. The amount of knowledge I gained in this project is valuable.

The fundraiser was led by STV which is the largest VC firm in the middle east. The project started with just a rough discussion on the data insights the firm required. Week over week these insights got tougher and so did the stress and anxiety. I still remember those 4am Fridays 🕟 when I was preparing cohort retention on our Demand & Supply. The term cohort analysis for me was completely new and I had to do an immense amount of research and use dozens of techniques to finally succeed at it. Nonetheless, I had so much support from Hamzah who prepared insights on company finances, and Mohamed who was always there to provide his suggestions. I loved Mohamed’s comment on one section of the report “Look at those sexy charts” 📈.

The key takeaway of the project would definitely be efficiency as I remember delivering dozens of insights in a single day along with other mini side projects. Finally, we wrapped up the Pre-Series A round in just 3 weeks raising over $4 million 💰. I was so proud of my personal performance and the amount of hard work we all put in to achieve that number!

Project HubSpot 💼

It was my first Ramadan in Saudi Arabia after 3 years and I was super excited. The summer heat was at its peak with temperatures crossing 42℃ 🥵. It was then when I was introduced to a term called CRM (Customer Relationship Management). Sabbar had plans to expand their Growth team by hiring multiple sales representatives to bring in more partners. For all of this to happen, we needed an advanced CRM software to keep track of every single data starting from Inbound leads, sales calls, deals and much more. This project involved the Growth, Marketing and Data teams. My tasks here were to design all automated workflows and handle data migration. Apart from this I assisted Raida from marketing in the Lead Capturing Forms.

This was one of the longest projects I have worked on yet but a very crucial one. I gained so many insights regarding Growth and Marketing. I remember that our Director of Growth Abdul Rahman Al-Mudaiheem mentioned what I was doing here is an actual job in the market as a CRM Solution Architect, so this really boosted my confidence and encouraged me to keep learning!

I started with designing and implementing the system. Next, I worked on Data Migration, which took ages to complete. I’m talking about migrating the entire database of contacts, companies, and deals with 100% accuracy. It took me a good 1 week to clean the data, correct any irregularities and connect all tables appropriately. This project really tested every single skill I’ve learned so far at Sabbar and made me realize that no matter how small or big a project is, the skills and journey you undergo always helps you in the future. So, take a deep breath and enjoy the process!

Data Empire

The past 6 months felt like 6 years. It was challenging, enjoyable and filled my tank with donuts 🍩. At the time of writing this blog I have secured a full time position at Sabbar. Overall, I feel confident in the skills I’ve built over the past period which are definitely going to help me frame a rigid Data Pipeline at Sabbar. My ultimate goal is to reach full business automation with the help of machine learning and data science.

Sabbar is providing me with every resource possible to achieve this, starting with my enrolment in Google for Startups, a program where individuals and mentors from various industries help businesses grow in the field of Business Development, Marketing and Data Science.

I would like to end the blog with a quote from Steve Jobs, the person who inspired me to follow technology.

“Sometimes life is going to hit you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith”
Steve Jobs

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