If you’re in the middle of making a career transition, you’re probably feeling an array of emotions: excited about this major life change and all of the opportunity that will come along with it, but perhaps nervous and unsure about how to start your new career path on the right foot. This is especially true of people trying to break into the field of data science because it’s such a broad and rapidly changing sector. That said, there are a number of steps you can take to ease your transition into data science and kick start your new career on the right foot.
Do your research
What is data science? What role does data science play in various sectors such as business, finance, and marketing? What key challenges do companies face in implementing effective data science practices? Knowing the answers to such questions is the first step in facilitating your career transition and giving yourself a competitive advantage when applying for jobs.
With that in mind, familiarize yourself with the lingo, the commonly used software programs, and the breadth of the industry. Data science is a blend of various algorithms, tools, and machine learning principles that ultimately aims to uncover hidden patterns within raw data. Much like machine learning developers, data scientists use algorithms to analyze real-time data and complex data sets; data scientists, however, typically do not have the same technical engineering background. It is a significant component of business development, marketing, and customer success, so research these areas to enhance your understanding. For instance, examine specific marketing forms and practices, such as B2B marketing strategies, and determine how data science fits into such practices and contributes to their success.
Broaden your education
As someone who is switching career paths, you know better than anyone that it is never too late to learn more and broaden your skills. One of the best ways to do that is to pursue higher education in your chosen field.
You may not necessarily have the time or financial resources to dedicate to a bachelor’s or master’s degree in data science, but there are many alternate study pathways you can explore. Consider a graduate certificate or graduate diploma; these programs are typically roughly six months to one year to complete and provide students with a deeper, specialized knowledge of their field of study. RMIT Online’s Graduate Certificate of Data Science offers students with non-technical backgrounds a holistic insight into the programming, analytics, and data wrangling competencies that employers are seeking. The 28-week program can be completed entirely online, providing students with added flexibility.
Examine data scientist job postings
When you’re just getting started on a new career path, you want to make yourself the most desirable candidate possible. How can you do that? Go to the source to see exactly what employers are looking for and tailor your skills to these requirements.
Consult online job postings on employment search engines like Indeed.com or on networking sites like LinkedIn to get a sense of the qualifications and experience recruiters are looking for.
If you want to go one step further, you can even apply to some of these jobs. Although you may not meet all of the requirements at this stage, it’s still a worthwhile exercise to get your name out to employers. Additionally, if you do make it through to the interview stage, this will allow you to refine your interviewing skills and to familiarize yourself with common interview questions in this field.
Although it can be difficult to change course onto an entirely new career path, it can also be an exciting and fulfilling exercise, particularly when transitioning into a field rife with opportunities like data science. In following the tips above, you’ll greatly facilitate the first step in your new career journey.