By Saeed Mirshekari

Dec 31, 2015

A New-Year's-Eve Flight from Iran to the USA

7 years ago, on exactly the same day as today, I landed in Chicago O’hare airport with 2x32kg full luggage in hand and a big dream in head surrounded by lots of anxiousness and concerns about leaving my family and starting a new chapter of my life in the US.

In fact, I clearly remember I hurt my hand pretty badly carrying the luggage all along in the airport trying to catch up the last flight of the day to St. Louis. Unfortunately, I missed that flight due to the long line at the border control, and I had to stay my first night in America at the airport until the next flight which was next year, i.e. the early morning of 1/1/2009.

Fast Forward 7 Years

Yesterday I did the same trip, from the same origin to the same destination. While I was also thinking about starting another chapter of my life, this time I had only one small carry-on but an even bigger dream in head surrounded all around by composure.

Unlike the last day of 2008, I did not miss my flight from Chicago in 2015. I feel I have absorbed much more of the universe inside me during these 7 years which makes me feel much more wise and relaxed.

The 7 Years that Shaped Me

Over these past 7 years between these two similar trips, many things have changed. I lived in 4 different countries in 4 different continents, and in 6 different cities. I met and worked with many great people and learned many amazing things during this chapter of my life in academia as a graduate student and postdoc.

I’ve enjoyed working and hanging out with so many wonderful people in this environment. Being in academia, I also frequently traveled to different places for business visits in the US and met and made many friends along the way from Florida and Texas in south to Montana and Minnesota in north, and from Washington DC and New York in east to California in west which it has been a pleasure to meet each of them.

After several successful years in academia, I am ready to walk in to a new exciting world to continue exploring and discovering the world towards my passions.

Leaving Academia; Will I Miss You?

Leaving academia is hard and I’m going to miss all my nice fellow graduate students, my teachers, and staff  at UT, WUSTL and UF in which I was a student, my colleagues at LIGO and ICTP-SAIFR in which I was a postdoc, and all nice people at MIT, CIT, IAP, and UWM in which I was a visiting research fellow.

I have learned so many great things during these years in academia from so many wonderful persons that I’m so grateful to each of them for every small and big piece that I’ve learned from them. I wish them all the best and a healthy, happy, and successful life wherever they are and whatever they do. I won’t forget all the enjoyable moments that I had with my friends and colleagues in academia and I would be certainly happy to be in touch with them in the future.

I'm Excited for What Monday Brings

In a few days, on the first working day of 2016, I will be officially starting my new job in industry as a data scientist. I will be jumping into the black-hole of data science (a huge amount of population has been sucked in to it in recent years or still orbiting around it, just like astronomical objects around a black-hole) or in other words a rabbit-hole (as a friend and fellow data scientist has wisely called it that way).

I would call it a black-rabbit-hole. My inclusive 1+ year research and preparation on this field shows that data science is the best job matching my interests and skills that I would enjoy doing. I am already very excited about next Monday, my first day as a data scientist, and the years ahead.

I am so exited and motivated about it. I would like to write about my first year experience as a data scientist whenever I get time later on.

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About O'Fallon Labs

In O'Fallon Labs we help recent graduates and professionals to get started and thrive in their Data Science careers via 1:1 mentoring and more.

Saeed Mirshekari, PhD

Saeed is currently a Director of Data Science in Mastercard and the Founder & Director of O'Fallon Labs LLC. He is a former research scholar at LIGO team (Physics Nobel Prize of 2017). Learn more about Saeed...

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