Diving into Data Science

Diving into Data Science

I recently met with a coaching client who was looking to pivot her career into analytics. She already had a quantitative background and sought my assistance to develop a plan to expand her skill set and add data science on her resume.  I was impressed that she made the decision to invest in herself by working with a coach and was focused on expanding her qualifications to become more marketable for future opportunities.  She asked questions such as “Are there still opportunities in data science?”  and “How do I get managers to look at my resume and talk with me?”

Opportunities Still Exist in Analytics
The great news is that opportunities do still exist in analytics.  The field of analytics continues to grow and shows a promising future for those with the applicable experience and skills. In my consulting work, I meet with analytics leaders who often ask if I know of qualified data science applicants for their open positions.  From my vantage point, the opportunities in analytics seem endless with indicators forecasting continued growth across several industries. I expect the demand for analytics talent and skills will continue for years to come.  A recent study by Burtch Works, an Executive Recruiting firm, backs up this claim.

How to Dive In

There are thousands of people in relevant disciplines, such as economists, engineers, or accountants, who don’t have a specific math or computer programming degrees but want to capitalize on the opportunity to utilize their quantitative backgrounds and expand their talents into the high-demand field of analytics. Their strong baseline knowledge of quantitative analysis provides a smooth, linear transition into analytics, but often times they don’t know how to take the leap.

So, how do you dive into the world of analytics?  Below are 4 areas to help you structure your plan.

1. Start Where You Are  If you are currently working, take the initiative to identify problems in your organization, your department, or your job that have the potential to be solved using data science.  Take further initiative to share your ideas with your boss and offer to work on one of those projects on top of your current work load.  Ultimately, it may mean putting yourself out there by stating what you are interested in and putting in some extra hours.  However, this extra effort can pay big dividends as it will provide you the opportunity to introduce analytics as an important problem-solving tool in your department and highlight your skill set to managers looking for analytics talent.

2. Let Your Career Path Guide You  Determining what technical skills you should gain can be daunting.  There are so many options and it seems never ending.   Start by looking at the existing analytics positions of interest to you as a next move in your career, either within or outside of your company.  Let the qualifications of those positions guide your path for the tools and skills you should gain experience in today.  This will help you differentiate the need for an R vs. Python course, or between learning how to do Time Series Forecasting vs NLP as an example.  While all the skills are valuable, some industries or companies do have preferences on specific tools and techniques.

3. Learn, Expand, Grow  Doing your research of online courses will help you close the skills gap so you are qualified for an analytics position. This article can also help provide some guidance on what courses to take.  Navigating Online Learning in Analytics

Once you have your plan in place, pull the trigger. Actually sign up for the class and complete it.

4. Network  My colleagues in Des Moines, Iowa who see me frequently know that I am a huge proponent of networking, even in this new virtual world.   Take the time to connect with data science professionals in your network who can educate and guide you.  Ask for referrals of who else you can meet with.  You can even identify a data science mentor who is willing take you under his or her wing and provide specific guidance. If you don’t find opportunities within your company, seek out a data science mentor through a meet-up group or other networking opportunities in your community.  People are willing to help!  The best time to start networking is before you need another job.

Now that you have a plan to pivot your career into analytics another resource to consider is an analytics career coach.  A qualified coach has the expertise to help you sort through possibilities, design a linear learning path to expand your data science skill set and lead you on a successful transition into analytics. A coach will keep you on track and hold you accountable to take the steps you want to take, which will ultimately accelerate your future by opening new, high-demand career doors for your expanding talents.  Your future is waiting, you just have to dive right in!

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