It was only twelve years ago that the title ‘data scientist’ was coined. The practice of data science has not existed for much longer either. As a young field, though growing rapidly around the globe, the role of a data scientist is often misunderstood. What exactly do data scientists do, how do they contribute to the business, what skills do they need are all commonly asked questions among aspirants — be it fresh graduates, entry-level professionals or mid-level managers seeking a career transition.
Our mentors and counsellors believe that this question comes more from a place of misunderstanding. Given that this field is still maturing, there are only a few mentors/ seniors in the field, and most traditional colleges still don’t offer data science as a structured course, it leaves aspirants with many unanswered questions. Let us answer them one by one.
A generalist data scientist is a jack of many trades. Their job includes:
People ask this question because data science is not a singular skill. As far as technical skills go, data scientist jobs combine mathematics, statistics, programming and domain expertise. Being able to meaningfully bring together the relevant skills across these fields can be a hard task for young professionals. However, you must understand that these are all related skills, building on top of one another, making them a coherent whole.
For instance, let’s say you’re a data scientist at a bank. You need not know everything there is to know about banking. But you need to understand financial concepts, within the context of your project. If you’re using DS for fraud detection in credit card purchases, you need to have in-depth knowledge of the credit landscape and fraud patterns.
Data science skills are a lot more than that. Some other skills you need are:
While experience is non-negotiable, it doesn’t have to be ‘job experience’. Hands-on practice with concepts of DS is good enough. You can gain this kind of experience in myriad ways:
With the right skills and data science portfolio, you will be able to land your dream job. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind while applying for data science jobs: