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The Space#

Each year we rent a space in the host city. While the space changes from year to year, in general the layout is open, and teams sit at desks together. There is private conference space for team meetings and calls with partners. Upon arrival, you will receive the conference room request and reservation policy. We also provide access to a kitchen, with coffee and an espresso maker. We provide a limited supply of snacks and catered meals for special events. Let us know if you have any special food restrictions.

You will learn more about space logistics (location, key card access, etc.) by email as they are finalized in the weeks leading up to the fellowship.

The People#

The foundation of any good project is a good team. We’ve worked to recruit and hand pick a passionate and skilled team of interdisciplinary folks that all bring unique skills to your cohort. The fellowship is comprised of teams of three or four fellows each. Your teammates will be fellow graduate students and recent graduates. We aim to ensure that each team has a mix of backgrounds, from computer science, statistics, math, physical science and engineering, social sciences and public policy.

Your team will be assigned a Senior Data Science Mentor. Each Mentor will be working with several teams of fellows, supporting their growth and project. All mentors are experienced data scientists who serve as a resource for you through the project development process, both with hands-on technical problems and implementation questions, as well as through higher-level design decisions.

In addition to Technical Mentors, you will have a Project Manager. Each Project Manager oversees several teams and is responsible for managing your relationship with your project partner. They work with you and your partner to set goals and deadlines, ensure proper communication between your team and your partner, and help tackle issues that are blocking your progress. Your Project Manager is also a great resource for questions about organizing teamwork, improving presentation skills, and communicating with the public.

If fellows have any kind of questions or concerns that they would like to discuss confidentially, they can address the Fellow Advocate. This is a member of staff who is not involved directly in managing the fellowship, and who is available to help with any conflict between fellows and members of staff. The advocate can also raise concerns or ask for help on behalf of fellows, should they feel uncomfortable doing so themselves.

The fellowship has one or more Interns, who help with all organizational and administrative tasks that the summer brings, like setting up the space, helping organize and publicize events, and recording tutorials. In their remaining time, interns might also help teams with their projects or work on their own self-directed data science projects.

The Communications Manager prepares media and press releases and manages interactions with the press. The communications manager helps fellows practice and polish their final presentations, and gives feedback on blog posts and other write-ups. We strongly believe in the importance of communicating the work we do, to our project partners, as well as to the broader public. To that end, we will spend a lot of the summer asking fellows to present their work and give them continuous feedback on the presentations.

The Fellowship Organizers have spent months planning and preparing the summer program. They select fellows, mentors, project managers, interns, and project partners, find a space, secure funding, prepare the summer’s curriculum, and plan all fellowship events. Over the summer, they will lead some of the fellowship-wide activities (such as the weekly deep dives and stand-ups), and teach some of the workshops. They also supervise the mentors, project managers, interns, and the communications manager.

The Curriculum#

Our goal is for you to learn a LOT this summer. We want you to feel empowered to drive your education throughout the summer. We see learning opportunities falling into three main buckets:

  • Self-Directed Learning: We will share specific resources and guidelines for topics that we find useful in order to kick-start this learning process. We then encourage you to dive in and learn the skills most applicable to you and your growth.
  • Peer-Directed Learning: We aim to create an environment that facilitates learning among fellows. Whether it’s an informal discussion over lunch or a more formal teaching session, we encourage you to take advantage of the diversity of experiences and skills in the room.
  • Fellowship-Directed Learning: Lastly, we have developed a specific workshop curriculum to cover basic concepts that we believe are essential for the summer.

It is up to you to make sure you are seeking the resources you need to learn the skills you want to learn. For example, in the past, groups of fellows have started reading groups to learn about similar topics, like deep learning, together. That being said, if you are lost, speak up. You shouldn't feel that you are unable to make a meaningful contribution to your project. Your technical mentor is available to help you tackle skill gaps.

In all of this, we recognize that there is no definitive “Data Science for Social Good” curriculum or roadmap. We are charting new territory and developing it together. Throughout the summer, there will be plenty of opportunities for feedback and brainstorming on how to improve learning; for example, in past summers we have held an informal “Dunkin’ Discussion” series where we discuss the future of data science for social good over donuts.

The Tools#

We typically use GitHub for storing our codebase, a cloud service provider like Amazon Web Services for our data storage and analysis, Slack for fellowship-wide communication, and Trello for project management. We also store team-wide and fellowship-wide documents on Google Drive, and we schedule meetings on Google Calendar. You will receive a email address from the host to use for the duration of the fellowship. You are expected to use this for all fellowship-related communication.

Call to action!

Be sure that you create and share your username to all of this services.

Also ask for the service's URL addresses specific to your project!

The Communication#

Teams will work together to develop specific team norms, but each team will have a daily morning stand up meeting with their project manager and technical mentors. In these meetings, each fellow will have the opportunity to discuss what they did the day before, what they’re planning to do today, and what they’re stuck on.

In addition to that daily meeting, teams will have weekly conference calls with their project partner to provide updates, ask questions, and receive feedback on their progress.

The Fun#

While this is a job — and we expect you to treat it as such — we would hate for the summer to be all work and no play. We want to help foster a community among your cohort.

We start the summer off with a host of orientation events, including a fellowship-wide picnic, a variety of icebreakers, and a scavenger hunt for you to get to know the city. We host “Un-DSSG”, a day for you to share your side passions (from fondue making to dance) with your new peers. Throughout the summer, we host happy hours every other week, and invite the larger data science, tech, startup, government, and non-profit communities. Nearly daily, we pull out the ping pong table after hours, often leading to intense rivalries tracked on Slack by Pongbot.