This week marks my one-year anniversary of quitting my full-time job and becoming an independent NLP/ML engineer and researcher (which I just call “freelance AI engineer” below). My experience so far has been very positive, and the past year was probably one of the most productive years in my entire career. My “achievements” in the past year include:
Writing and publishing Real-World NLP, my NLP introduction book that I’ve been working on the past 1.5 years
Developing an ultra-fine-grained NER system, which ranked at #2 at TAC-KBP 2019, using transfer and multitask learning
Working on an introductory course to teach AllenNLP, which will be launched within a couple of months
Many other client projects that are not public
Now, I believe that becoming a freelance AI engineer is a totally viable career choice (but only for those who are cut out for it—see below). A number of friends and people that I know asked what it’s like to be a freelancer. Many of them haven’t even heard of any “freelance researchers” before (yeah, me neither). That’s why I’m writing down my thoughts and experience here so that this might be useful if you are even vaguely interested.