Are you thinking of pursuing a data scientist career? There are a number of companies and colleges that are profiting from the data scientist career craze by selling bootcamps and certification programs. While completing this type of training may give you the foundational knowledge you need to understand the basic role and responsibilities, they are just the beginning.
The field of data science is continuously evolving, and is rich with opportunities. Don’t count yourself out because you don’t have experience. There are many more aspiring data scientists than experienced data scientists, and there are many positions to be filled. The limited training of a bootcamp, however, doesn’t prepare you to actually get a job in the field. You’ll need to distinguish yourself from the crowd by highlighting your other qualifications.
When considering how to position yourself in your technology resume, think not only about your technical skills and education, but also consider your aptitude, interests, and characteristics. While carefully crafted statements about your technical skills and accomplishments will strengthen your technical resume for the same type of IT position, it isn’t sufficient to advance you into other roles and responsibilities.
When looking to expand your experience and salary, look at ways to weave your soft skills into your technology accomplishments. Here are but a few examples – use of analysis and analytic capabilities, ability to research and identify new opportunities for technology enhancements, and understanding of how value is derived from data.
With this in mind, I’ve compiled a list of those qualities that are essential for a data scientist to be successful.
- Programming Capability – It doesn’t matter what languages you’ve programmed in, as long as you’ve excelled. Your aptitude and experience are more important.
- Data Literacy / Data Management – As Big Data has become mainstream, data management has become far more complex. Being able to work with both structured and unstructured data and their associated architectures creates a great opportunity to move into this field.
- Intellectual Curiosity – Some people are just born naturally curious about the world around them. These are the kids that continue to explore and discover why things are as they are. Data science is a great fit for them.
- Business Acumen – Everyone in IT needs to understand how the business functions and its overall goals and strategies. For the Data Scientist, this goes far beyond understanding the internal processes and practices, and extends to the business drivers and economics that truly impact the business.
- Communication – A data scientist needs to be able to communicate well verbally and in written form, including data visualization. Visually representing information creates a compelling message. Being able to use sophisticated data visualization tools is a necessary skill in their toolbox.
- Advanced Mathematics and Applied Statistics – Data scientists love math and statistics, but they are not simply statisticians. They are able to blend their knowledge of the business with their natural curiosity to provide insightful analysis.
- Design and Engineering – As an experienced IT professional, you can highlight your design and engineering experience.
In beginning to understand the role of a data scientist, it is equally important to understand how it is different from many other job roles. A data scientist may perform the role of a data analyst or even a data wrangler, but this is not their primary function. Instead, they blend their very inquisitive nature with strong domain expertise, along with their knowledge and experience with mathematics, statistics, and machine learning to enable insightful decision-making.