Career Data Science

How to Close Your Data Science Skill Gap: Insights from an Industry Expert

Navigating the ever-evolving landscape of data science can be a daunting task. Aspiring data scientists often wonder how to break into the industry, while experienced professionals seek strategies to stay competitive. Fortunately, Jared Rand, an experienced data science hiring manager, shares insights to address these concerns. Here’s how you can close your data science skill gap.

For Students and Career Changers

  1. Consider Further Education: While a bachelor’s degree may get your foot in the door, you’re likely to spend several years in analyst roles, struggling to gain tangible data science experience. Therefore, a master’s degree in the field is highly recommended. It can give you a competitive edge and faster access to data science roles.
  2. Explore Boot Camps: For PhD students or career changers with a master’s in a different field, boot camps could be a game changer. Data science requires a broad skill set, combining statistics, computer science, and domain expertise. Your current education might provide depth in some areas, but a data science boot camp will give you the breadth you need to excel in real-world roles.
  3. Embark on Personal Projects: Nothing sets you apart like executing a project born out of your own ingenuity. Developing real projects beyond class assignments and publishing the results on platforms like GitHub, a personal blog, or as a fully-functional live app distinguishes you from other candidates (e.g. here is a WordPress plugin I published that provides automatic tags to blogs). Remember, the sophistication and maturity of your projects can be a key differentiator. Quality always trumps quantity.

For Mid-Career Data Scientists Seeking Advancement

  1. Take Initiative: Don’t wait for your boss to assign you skill-building projects. While a good manager will align your work with your career development goals, it’s crucial to take responsibility for your growth. Seek opportunities for self-improvement, whether within or outside your current role.
  2. Propose Enhancements: Proactively present ideas for product enhancements to your team, your manager, and product managers. Use rapid prototypes to demonstrate components of your ideas, fostering buy-in for further development. Don’t be shy about taking initiatives that aren’t explicitly assigned to you or approved by your manager, but also don’t forgo your core responsibilities.
  3. Find Side Projects: Cultivating a side project outside of work is highly beneficial.
    • Ownership is a very powerful motivator. Good company cultures instill this in all employees, but still nothing can beat the motivation of being a founder for your own side hustle.
    • The scope of your job responsibilities are limited. Even at an early-stage startup where you have to wear many hats, there are still limits to the skills and tools you can learn while working on projects that provide value to the business. When you embark on your own side project, you will be forced to learn new skills and tools that you may have never encountered at your day job. Those learnings will reinforce skills needed for your day job.
    • Here’s an example of a side project I built recently: Toybot.

Closing your skill gap in data science is about understanding where you are, envisioning where you want to be, and implementing a strategy to bridge the gap. It requires dedication, constant learning, and sometimes, stepping outside of your comfort zone. Leverage these insights from an industry expert to navigate your journey confidently.

Skill Gap Assessment

As you take these steps to close your skill gap in data science, consider getting a free Skill Gap Assessment. This personalized evaluation will help you gain a clear understanding of your current strengths and areas for improvement. Jared Rand, founder of Skillenai and experienced data science hiring manager, will personally review your resume and provide actionable feedback. This way, you won’t be navigating your journey in the dark. With his experience reviewing hundreds of resumes, conducting numerous interviews, and hiring several data scientists, Jared is well-equipped to offer insights that can set you apart in this competitive field.

By understanding your unique skill gap, you can target your learning and growth efforts more effectively, setting you on the path to success in the data science world. Don’t miss this opportunity to receive expert guidance. Sign up and upload your resume today to take your career to the next level.

Jared Rand

By Jared Rand

Jared Rand is a data scientist specializing in natural language processing. He also has an MBA and is a serial entrepreneur. He is a Principal NLP Data Scientist at Everstream Analytics and founder of Skillenai. Connect with Jared on LinkedIn.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: