Understand Why You Want a Career in Data Science

I’m a strong believer in conviction over intelligence, I also believe conviction breads intelligence. How do you get convicted? This is where a little soul searching comes in, think about the context and your life holistically. There’s a reason why you’ve chosen to read this after all. What’s the why? Are you just interested in what it takes to be a data scientist? Are you here because someone told you it’s the sexiest job of the 21st century? Because you want to earn the big bucks? For the job title’s prestige? Maybe you’re bored of a job and want a challenge? It’s probably a mixture of things, I know it was for me. As long as that reason isn’t too concentrated around what I call, ‘non-intrinsic’ motives then you’re in good standing. Non- intrinsic motives are any external reasons outside of the satisfaction of actually doing the work. What’s the cutoff for the mix of intrinsic vs non-intrinsic motives? I don’t know but if it’s 50% money, 50% prestige then I don’t think it’s going to work… There needs to be some level of job satisfaction, some level of enjoyment, that’s what’s going to be the fuel for progress, the propeller for going on to implementing the practical tips on this site.

That said, I believe everyone has some capacity to get satisfaction from doing the type of work a data scientist does. However not everyone starts on an even playing field, it’s important to be pragmatic about that. Some people have a much bigger mountain to climb. 

The types of people I see going into this field generally have some element of mathematical experience, however, not all. Social scientists, economists, doctors, biologists, chemists, physicists, software engineers are common. However, I’ve seen great data scientists from a range of disciplines including journalists, historians and philosophers. Each with their unique edge they can inject into their data science skill set. Philosophers for example, tend to have the characteristic of inquisition, which becomes mighty useful when it comes to data expiration or just simply not assuming that the data received will be correct.

So what’s the practical tip here? Write down 3 reasons why you want to become a data scientist on some post-it notes, be honest with yourself, if one of them is related to money, that’s good. For the right type of person becoming a data scientist is a fantastic way to pull yourself out of poverty and debt. Remember a mixture of non-intrinsic and intrinsic motives is normal. Once you have your reasons, stick the post-it notes somewhere you’ll see them everyday. Maybe on your wardrobe or bathroom mirror. That way you’ll remind yourself each day why you want to become a data scientist. 


Are You Ready For a Career In Data Science?

I have great memories of being young and obsessed with building model cars. These miniature models of classic cars were built from plastic kits, going from picking the plastic components out individually, then following the visual instructions one by one until the car was fully assembled with glue. I would then paint some flames along the sides, soon after running to my family to show off what I created. Later, moving on to building with Meccano, assembling all manner of contraptions. I attempted to build a marble gun with Meccano pieces and a hand held fan. Didn’t turn out to be as powerful as I hoped. 

When building these childhood relics, I remember time melting away as if it didn’t exist, I was fully immersed, hunched over my desk under a lamp, it felt good. I guess you could call it flow. A few years after I realised I could reach this state with problem solving, puzzles, games and math – if there was a solution to be discovered, I wanted to prove to myself that I could figure it out, and when I did it felt good. Little did I know that it would be the inherent motivation behind my day job today.

For those of you who are like me, who find peace or pleasure in problem solving and creating- then this blog may be for you. If you hope to find a path in life that enables you to problem solve and create each day – then this blog is definitely for you.

This blog is my personal collection of nuggets of wisdom for becoming a data scientist. Almost all of these practical tips helped me become a data scientist. For the tips I did not follow, I retrospectively wish I had. It’s my belief that if you follow them, your chances of becoming a data scientist can increase by an order of magnitude. That doesn’t not mean to say it’s a complete checklist, nor will every tip be relevant for you. But it’s a collection substantial enough, that if followed, will send you on your way. I have purposely attempted to avoid vagueness and ambiguity where possible, the best advice is that of which can be easily interpreted and implemented.