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Looking for advice on fine-tuning LLMs as a side project

Entry-Level Data Scientist at Flatiron Health profile pic
Entry-Level Data Scientist at Flatiron Health

I'm a Data Scientist looking to switch company and move to a role closer to ML/LLMs. My plan is to build a side project fine-tuning LLMs to familiarize myself with this field and leverage that experience on my resume. I was wondering if anyone here has experience building similar projects or went through a similar learning process - it would be very helpful to get some insights on skill acquisition and finding a job in this area. Here're some examples of what advice I'm looking for, but please feel free to share other aspects as well - anything will be greatly appreciated:

  1. What are some good resources to learn about building LLMs? (currently mostly learning from HF, reddit, and googling)
  2. What's the best tech stack to build personal fine-tuned LLM projects? (I'm planning to use Runpod or similar services like Vast for training and inference, but was wondering if there's other better options)
  3. I'm looking to get into an early stage company in this field. What kind of project should I build to maximize my chance at getting into such companies? My plan rn is to fine tune a model using literature works (novels, poems, proses, etc.) since training data is relatively abundant and it's aligned with my interests. Are there more impactful use cases (for job hunting) out there?
  4. What are some things I should keep in mind when producing deliverables to better showcase my technical and learning abilities? I'm planning to make a series of blog/social media posts documenting my experience building this project. Is there anything in specific that would draw companies' attention?

Thanks in advance and please feel free to share your thoughts!

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Switching teams after joining for 6 months - How to go about it?

Entry-Level Software Engineer at Flatiron Health profile pic
Entry-Level Software Engineer at Flatiron Health

Hey all, I'm a new grad Data Scientist and I've been working for my current employer for about 6 months now. It's a mid-sized company so I didn't get the chance to pick the team when I first joined. I realized not that long into the job that I don't want to stay on this team for the long term, and today I just heard the news about another team actively hiring for Data Scientists. But I'm not sure if I should pursue this opportunity for a few reasons:

  1. I've only been at this company for 6 months and haven't gone through a formal perf cycle yet. This means that I would be evaluated on a "case-by-case basis" and would need approval from the HRBP and my manager.
  2. They are hiring for one level above my current role, although someone on that team told me it's flexible.
  3. My current team is understaffed and is currently hiring as well, so there is a risk of my manager not approving this transfer. This also means I won't have enough time to prepare for the interview.
  4. This is not currently listed on the internal job board (although supposedly this position was only released externally today so the internal job board might have been updated yet)

Here are a few reasons why I want to transfer to the new team:

  1. Due to the scope of the work on my current team, I feel that I'm not learning as much as I'd like to. It's not very technical and relies heavily on specific business contexts. I'm more interested in improving my technical ability in writing code and building products over learning business contexts, at least for now.
  2. A lot of my current work involves writing ad-hoc SQL queries to support other functions. I don't find a lot of value in this kind of work and want to invest my time in building stuff from which I can learn new skills.
  3. I interned on the team I want to transfer to and really enjoyed it. I keep good relationships with many of the team members and am familiar with their work. Also, I genuinely think the work they are doing on that team is very interesting.
  4. I don't see a clear way of progression on my current team. My current team was only established two months before I joined due to a reorg. Every IC on my team is brand new and my manager is brand new to being a manager as well. There are no senior engineers to learn from and I can't see what senior engineer scope looks like on our team.
  5. Our team supports the sales team in client communications, which means we have very unpredictable workloads and deadlines. Sometimes I have to work very long hours and take on-call requests which can be very stressful.

I really want to switch to a new environment but I feel like my chances aren't great. It would be great if folks could share their thoughts on:

  1. Should I reach out to the prospective team's manager to express my interest in this role right now?
  2. Since manager approval is required before starting the interview process, it's possible that I would have to stay on my current team with my manager knowing I want to transfer out. I think it is a situation I want to avoid but also don't want to miss the opportunity because of this.
  3. In general, what would be a good approach to this? And is there any specific advice?

Thanks in advance!

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