How To Build Your Data Science Career Change Action Plan

Alan Hylands on April 08, 2019

Your Job's A Joke. You're Broke. Your Love Life's DOA. You've spent the last ten years grinding it out at a job that you don't exactly swoon over ... [Read Full]
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Thanks for sharing. Data Science had really piqued my interest lately. But what should I do if it hasn't been my day, my week, my month, or even my year?


Don't worry John. (Clears throat nervously) I'll be there for you.


Great to hear you're looking to pivot your career ...


:-D If I had a penny for every time my wife managed to use this quote in real-life, I'd be richer than the cast of Friends.


Interesting, also the fact that there's no mention of the common clichéd high tech things like AI or Machine Learning (or even of math & statistics) ... so my takeaway of this is, just learn the basics and know what your "soft skills" are, get confident, and apply ... SQL and Excel, it can't get more down-to-earth than that, love it!


I'm a great proponent of the "data science is a VERY broad church" school of thought. ML and AI are just a small sliver of the areas you might get involved in but they certainly aren't the whole thing.

I know there is a lot of gatekeeping even around the phrase "data science" and it annoys me a lot. We should be encouraging as many people to get into all areas of analytics/data science as possible.

A lower barrier to entry path is building SQL and Excel skills to help encourage analytical thinking as a stepping stone to further technology development as they progress.

I've probably undercooked the really important part which is data literacy. Get that sorted early and the coding/tech parts can be bolted on. Without data literacy and business knowledge, you can know all the programming languages in the world and still be virtually useless as an analyst.


Interesting concept, Data Literacy ... I think that's something which even kids in primary school could be successfully exposed to.

I'm 100% with you on the gatekeeping thing, that's just an elitist trick to keep "unwanted outsiders" out of one's privileged niche, keeping salaries high and promoting an air of mystery and "high tech" around the subject ... not good for companies, and also not for motivated and potentially talented candidates.

Virtual high fives on both points.

We have to take the long term view on embedding data literacy so primary school is the perfect starting point. Make it second nature for all kids to understand the basic concepts and reap the benefits in all spheres in the future. Same with personal financial literacy but that's a hill to die on another day.

Right! same with computer literacy (but that's commonly being taught already), and "social media" literacy, and I can go on like that. World is changing, kids need to be prepared.


Hi Alan,
I have a project question for you. You may consider it out of context but let me give a shot.

I found a paper of the Top 10 Algorithms for DM. I loved the idea so I am striving to put a brief booklet together on what these 10 Algos can do given a set of Biological data. I would like to show R code, output then describe the benefits and downfalls for my particular dataset and tease them all apart. Do you think that would be well received?


That sounds spot on Matt. It gives you room to showcase your technical chops with R and your subject matter knowledge from your Biochemistry background. A lot of people get caught up on just the tech side of it and forget about making the analysis relevant to a real-world use case. If you can take the raw data, wrangle it, present it and give proper analysis on what you've found, it would be very well received - especially when it comes to making your CV/resume stand out from the rest of the pile.


Great, thanks for the encouragement,

Are you familiar with the R package 'caret'? Powerful package, it actually allows one to run and compare multiple methods with the same syntax, basically the same command(s)...

BTW, I had an high school exchange student friend from Carrickfergus. Do you know it? ;))

Not familiar with the package but I'll put it on my list to check out.

And I do indeed know Carrickfergus. They've got a great old Norman castle up there and a colleague from my $DAYJOB is from the town. If you are into crime fiction, the Northern Irish writer Adrian McKinty sets his Troubles-based Sean Duffy detective series in Carrick (where he himself grew up). Small world!

The comedian Steven Wright says, "small world but i wouldnt want to paint it."

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