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.