From time to time, you will find on the Publito blog interviews from our experts. Today we are talking with our first one, Karol Szeplewicz. Karol is a data analyst for a Polish media company. We are discussing his work, if and how did the pandemic affect him and what are his future plans.
- Thank you for accepting to do this interview. First of all, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Karol Szeplewicz and I’m 34 years old. I work and live in Warsaw, Poland. My background is in quantitative methods and in archaeology; for most of my professional life I’ve been working in data science. Currently I work for one of the largest Polish media companies as a data scientist. I’m involved in machine learning projects aimed at a better understanding of our customers, increasing their engagement and better adjusting the media content to their needs and interests.
- I know you are from Poland but lived in Romania as well. How did that happen? How did you find Romania? Tell us what you liked about it and what you didn’t.
My adventure with Romania began around 2007 when as an archaeology student I needed to attend excavations in Bulgaria, at the Danube bank. On the way I’ve spent two weeks travelling around Romania and I liked it a lot. I came back as a tourist a few times and later as an Erasmus student. I can say that during my Erasmus period I fell in love with the country so after graduating I’ve decided to look for a job in Romania. Altogether I’ve spent over 5 years there (mostly in Bucharest).
I’ve enjoyed Romania as it is very different from what I knew from the rest of Europe – very oriental, balcanic, eastern, chaotic, very different from Poland. I really like the Near East and the Balkans; in Bucharest you can really feel that the city is much closer to Istanbul than to Vienna. I also liked the liveliness of the place, a very flexible approach to rules. However, at some points it was getting overwhelming and frustrating, turning every day life to a struggle (traffic, bureaucracy, delays). I’ve also experienced a lot of xenophobia and nationalism.
- What does a normal day in your life look like? What are the differences between your life now and pre-Covid?
I start my day around 6 a.m., after a quick breakfast I go to the gym (not quite legally, oups :D) and around 9-9.30 a.m. I start my work. I work remotely and my schedule is pretty flexible – most of my work are large, independent projects and apart from a few meetings per week I work independently from people, so I’m allowed to schedule my work as I want. I tend to finish around 6 p.m., in the evening I do some sports, read, meet my friends (if restrictions allow). To be honest there are no large differences in my work compared to the pre-Covid period. Even before pandemic I used to work remotely 3-4 days per week with quite flexible schedules. Obviously now I can’t go to restaurants, bars etc, but I’ve never been a huge partygoer. The main change is lack of travelling which I used to do a lot.
- Did the pandemic affect your work?
Again, surprisingly not much. In terms of the work I do and the projects I’m involved in, there are not many changes. Actually, as I work in online media and the human activity has largely gone online, the business is going well and we have a lot of work to do. In terms of the organization of work I’ve stopped going to the office, which I sometimes miss – the human relations with people play a large role for me.
- How do you think the media handled the pandemic? Do you think that it spread false information too?
Not very well, to be honest. I think the media were largely responsible for the huge panic and hysteria in the very beginning. They were creating a feeling of a great catastrophe, playing on human fears. Obviously I can understand that this kind of news has a high ‘clickability’, but I also believe the media have a more important mission beyond clickability and making money. Also, in the later period (Summer), when the situation has improved and people forgot about the risks, the media didn’t remind them about it. And this can partially explain dramatic second and third waves.
When it comes to fake news, at least in my country the mainstream media were free from false information. Obviously some of the niche fake news spreaders were very active in this time, but this problem should be addressed by the government.
- Would you like to come back to Romania?
I have been to Romania a few times after I’ve moved out, I still have some friends there.
- What are your future plans?
Professionally, I’m quite happy with what I’m doing in my life. I’d like to continue working in data science and explore new aspects of it. I find natural language processing and language analyses particularly attractive as I have a huge interest in linguistics. In my personal life at the moment I’m happy to be back in Poland, but I can’t exclude going abroad again to experience life in a different country.
Thank you very much for this interview, Karol! 🙂
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