It's well discussed at Big Data Republic that the best data scientists are well rounded individuals. They match coding and stats savvy with empathy and communication skills. The key for a lot of students is to add those soft skills themselves.
Get business smarts before you get to business
"The number one thing is to go get an internship, as it shows you how to interact in a business," said Neil Biehn, a veteran data scientist and vice president of pricing science and research at PROS Inc. This was said in the middle of a telephone conversation I was having with him around the bright future the media seems to have mapped out for anyone stepping into the data science world. The picture he painted for me is one where a student needs to create some extra dimensions to their personal offering. "Groups at university where students have to present to each other are ideal," he continued.
Is it a case of universities no longer producing the well rounded individuals we expect to see coming out of higher education?
"I think that's a fair statement, especially with data science, as it is so specific," Neil told me. "The onus comes down to the student. They need to make a point to be social, whether it's a data science club that meets at 7:00 p.m. or a gamers club once a week." Essentially, where courses need to be so specific and deep (and data science is a prime example), we're at risk of losing that liberal arts education. That's ironic, since it seems to form such an integral part of what we think of as a data scientist.
What do you do to get a big data internship?
When we go to career fairs, most resumes we get are for internships. We do have to be picky. We look for people who have a science background. You have to be able to code -- something in Java or C++ or MatLab or Python. It shows you have some experience, and you aren't going to spend your whole internship learning the basics.
One key recommendation from Neil: showcasing experience in taking real data or web-scraped data, coding on it, making inferences, and showing a simple concept could be a really big win for you. It creates a great space for potential interns to show they are knowledgeable about the subtleties around model selection, prediction and forecasts.
Is there value in data science degrees?
"The confusion around data science is you have to have good knowledge of stats and the tech landscape, as well as the soft skill space," said Neil. That means it becomes difficult to navigate how to design a course curriculum to cover all three. PROS Inc. prides itself on doing a lot of on-the-job training to get people up to speed. (The fact that they hire people who have completed master's degrees means they are getting a work force who turn up ready to learn.) "What's more exciting about some of these emerging data science programs is that some of that training will have been done, which means they will create people you can pluck and implement straight away."
Re: Students ! Do more projects ! To secure a data science career what I feel is that three things as discussed in the article is required and apart from that two more things also required. One continuous skill up gradation with latest software's and trends is required. The second is that learn and unlearn things through continuous training is required. The soft skill aspect to explain the story in simple language is definitely expected from a data scientist but it will come with experience and over a period of time. However the most basic skill set is programming and statistics on which proficiency has to be achieved.
User Rank: Megabyte Messenger 11/20/2013 | 3:15:51 PM
Re: Students ! Do more projects !
@Umar - I will absolutely agree with you. Trainings/Certifications is a very integral requirement when it comes to advancing you career or get a promotion for that matter, as I mentioned in my previous comment. When you already are a professional, certification is as much important as doing a project.
User Rank: Megabyte Messenger 11/20/2013 | 3:06:35 PM
Re: Students ! Do more projects !
@Saul - Absolutely ! Projects are a great way to give a boost to your career but i targeted students especially because when you are working as a professional it can sometimes be difficult for you to start an independent project of your own because you simply might not have the time, but as a student you have all the time in the world to work on your own projects in areas that you find interesting and are passionate about. When you are already a professional other things matter as well like experience, Certifications etc.
User Rank: Bit Player 11/13/2013 | 1:54:12 AM
Re: Students ! Do more projects ! @Saul: It's true, firms usually don't offer such trainings. There is always a panic of losing employee but again it also depends on individual's how they track growth. I remember when I was in university I used take part in free workshops arranged by different vendor's which was categorically helpful for me in searching job.
User Rank: Exabyte Executive 11/12/2013 | 10:17:53 AM
Re: Let's not forget the science. Nice! I think on the job skills are important. Colleges can only go so far helping people to prepare for the workplace, graduates need to actually get in there and get their hands dirty. I think that's the most important aspect!
User Rank: Blogger 11/12/2013 | 7:15:09 AM
Re: Students ! Do more projects ! @Umar good to know that level of training is available - as an employee does it increase your desire to stick around? There's a dichotomy for companies there... they don't want to train up what will eventually be other companies' staff - but at the same time, offering training can lead to greater levels of satisfaction and lower levels of attrition.
User Rank: Gigabyte Governor 11/12/2013 | 6:55:24 AM
Re: Students ! Do more projects ! @Debra, I agree with you it's the complete package. There is no single factor that is used to asserts whether a candidate is a good fit for the job. However it varies from job to job. For instance, If a person is expected to communicate on a regular basis with clients, and must act as the front man to lead the team than communication,leadership skills will play a far greater role in assessing the said person's suitability for the job.
User Rank: Bit Player 11/12/2013 | 5:40:34 AM
Re: Students ! Do more projects ! @Saul: This Exercise is usually done in good companies. In my company many standard trainings are conducted like ITIL, Service Management, Oracle 11G,Quality Assurance, PMP, Six sigma etc. Once you done with these trainings automatically you land in promotion and it very easy to shift companies and get add-ons. This is constructive for both company and employee.
Re: Students ! Do more projects ! Neil, i totally agree with you these days recruiters search for students having all three required skills of Science, execution and definitely communication . But i guess every student cant be fully equiped with all these skills we are humans some one has some quality and someone other no one can be equally good in same or every thing. According to me these days students just focus on theire projects , their IT skills but they lack communication skills they dont just give that much attention on this partcular aspect as required. However the first step of your success in interview totally depends upon communication. If you have good communication skills then you have the power to convince the employer to hire you.
User Rank: Petabyte Pathfinder 11/12/2013 | 12:14:05 AM
Re: Students ! Do more projects ! we most certainly can. Highlighting the skills and projects specific for your new job or the reuqirements for the promotion can give you an edge. Recuiters scan your cv and skim through your projects . if your projects and skills match, then it will be good for you. therefore, its good to have some diversity and different skills.