How To Create A Strategic Transition to Data Science

career advice data job hunting Apr 12, 2023
Robot with Data Science Questions

In the upcoming weeks I am going to give you a glimpse into my new book How to Become a Data Scientist: A guide for established professionals. I wrote this book for the established professionals that are looking to pivot their careers later in life. 

There are three types of career transitions: 

  1. Standard career transitions represent a progressive growth with an employer (e.g., from assistant to associate). Sometimes, standard career transitions include a modest change in responsibility and salary.
  2. Incidental transitions represent a change in employment due to factors that are not related to career advancement, meaning the career transition is incidental to other life or industry changes.
  3. Strategic transitions often involve a change in field, usually one the employee planned or aspired toward. 

Ultimately, a strategic transition is the goal. In the Introduction of my book, How To Become A Data Scientist, I discuss how to transform your transition into data science, a strategic one. To do this you need to clarify your motivations for choosing data science. Most people answer with a higher salary, flexible work environment, or even more clout. 

But the motivation that I want you to focus on is a deeper one. I want you to decipher why you chose data science specifically. All of those attributes listed above can be found in a variety of careers. Why did you choose data and what about working as a data scientist will motivate you to keep going even when the transition becomes difficult. 

For inspiration, pretend you are at a job interview for a really promising position. You are sitting across a table from the panel of applicants and they ask you to tell them about yourself. What are you going to say to convince them that you are the right data scientist for the job? While clout, money and flexibility are all great things, they are not going to land you the job. Tell us a little bit about yourself, as a data scientist (I added the last part).

If you need even more inspiration here is an example of my answer to that question, this is taken right from my book How To Become A Data Scientist, page 11

“I am extremely motivated by the opportunity to create new knowledge. I define new knowledge as information about how the world works that we have not previously possessed. Currently, my passion for new knowledge has pushed me toward my career in data science.”

These sentences tied my motivation to something bigger than money, clout or flexibility. I would repeat this to myself when I became discouraged because I knew that not everyone has a passion for new knowledge like I do. Understanding and verbalizing my motivation for becoming a data scientist helped me set myself apart from the others, even if it was only in my mind.

Stay tuned throughout the rest of the month for more from How to Become a Data Scientist: A guide fr established professionals.

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