Banking on Data Science: My Summer Internship Experience

Muhammad Furqan Karim, a Computer Science student from HU’s Class of 2020, shares his experiences as a Data Science intern during a Summer Internship at Bank Al Habib Ltd.

Last summer, I had a wonderful opportunity to work at Bank Al Habib Ltd. as a Data Analyst/Data Science intern alongside my batch mate Muhammad Shahzaib Alam. We were the first from Habib University to work in the Business Development Department at any bank. Although when we started our internship, we learned that the Business Development Department specifically hires business graduates — and that we were the only ones from engineering backgrounds — we performed equally well as the business background interns over there.

My entire six-weeks long (June 17th – July 26th) internship experience proved to be very useful as it didn’t just prepare me for the corporate world, but helped me in growing my technical skills as well. We were assigned two major projects and final pitch, which was to be delivered in front of the bank’s higher management, including its Business Head and CEO.

Our first project was to build a ‘Loan Default Prediction Model’, in which we were able to build a system that could successfully classify — with 70% accuracy — the loans that would default in the coming months from their previous patterns. Our second project was to build a ‘Customer Retention Model’ which was to predict whether certain customers will leave the bank or not in the next 2-4 months, so that targeted marketing could be done effectively.

Finally, we pitched to the management about the importance of data science at banks and how they can leverage it to increase profits and cut down extra costs. Apart from these projects, each week we were assigned meetups with top bank executives to better understand their business as well as the core banking structure of Bank Al Habib.

I should state that it wouldn’t have been possible for me to do this if I hadn’t been prepared beforehand. I am grateful for the help and support that Habib’s faculty provided, who I also regard as my personal mentors. From the start of my second year, I started consulting Dr. Waqar Saleem and Dr. Saleha Raza, Assistant Professors of Computer Science, about the road track for Data Science, in general, and for Pakistan specifically.

Luckily, I also got an opportunity to do my ‘Data Science Intensive Studies Certification’ from Stanford University when I was selected to attend its International Honors Program’18 through Habib University’s Learn Abroad Program. Over there, I did take a few courses in Data Science. One of them was ‘Data Mining and Analysis’ which was being taught by Mr. Rajan Patel, Senior Director for Engineers at Googleplex.

We were also connected to some great Pakistani tech leads in the Bay Area by Dr. Waqar Saleem, which really helped me in figuring out the right path for my future career. Other than that, I took a few courses in Data Science and Artificial Intelligence Domain as well at Habib University.

Two of the most exciting courses were Artificial Intelligence and Computational Intelligence which were being taught by Dr. Saleha Raza. Overall, my experience at HU helped me in excelling at Bank Al Habib Ltd because at HU, you are not only learning new things but you also learn how to unlearn and then self learn at a rapid pace!


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