So you’ve been putting in your time learning data science, working through your extended cases, and jamming with DJ Professor Pillai. You and your team are working on an amazing Final Project to showcase your new skills and solve a real-world problem.
How do you translate this into improved career prospects and economic opportunity? We will give you a list of tips below.
But first, remember that getting into DS4A / Empowerment is itself an opportunity and an accomplishment. Fewer than 6% of applicants were admitted into the program. You are now part of the DS4A community, a support network whose vision is to be the most diverse and talented mix of data literate professionals ever assembled. No matter how your career journey evolves in the short-term, know that you have long-term support and a community.
There are no guarantees in your job search. We have assembled a wonderful and growing mix of Employer Partners, all of whom believe in the power of diverse data talent to unlock business value. And we will facilitate multiple career fairs to maximize connectivity between you and the Employer Partners. But it will be up to you to present yourself in the best light, to demonstrate your ability to add business value with your skills, and to find the best fit.
Below are some tips, whether you are looking for an internship, a full-time position, a promotion with your existing company, or just planning for the future.
1. The Right Roles to Consider: All Data-Literate Roles That Interest You
We often see students making the mistake of considering only data scientist, data analyst, and data engineering roles. This is a mistake and a significant lost opportunity.
Data is not a vertical--it is not one job family. Instead, data is a horizontal--it is a skillset that cuts across an increasing number of jobs in every department. A marketer is a better marketer with data skills. A product manager is a better product manager with data skills. And so on for operations, engineering, sales, management consulting, etc.
In fact, the most valuable data professionals are those who can combine data skills with domain expertise--those who have expertise in (for example) marketing, but who also know enough data science to understand and conduct a rigorous A/B test.
Frame yourself as a data literate professional, either a generalist who can apply data skills to any business vertical, or as someone who brings data literacy to existing domain expertise in a vertical. For a list of an example set of data literate roles, see here.
2. Build Your Professional Portfolio
We have created the C1 Connect platform to help you showcase your skills. Take the time to fill out your profile thoughtfully, and especially to showcase your Datafolios.
Think about how you are framing yourself. Are you a product manager with data skills? Are you a PhD level researcher in AI? Are you passionate about optimizing supply chains with data science?
However you choose to frame yourself, make sure that your Datafolios reinforce your framing. Choose projects that demonstrate both your interests and your skills to showcase. Remember, your Datafolios should be easy for non-technical business people to understand. If you can communicate your results crisply and for non-technical audiences, you are signaling that you have skills at the intersection of business and data, and that you can tell compelling stories with data, which is exactly what employers are looking for.
The DS4A Final Project serves as an excellent Datafolio creation opportunity. But don’t stop there. Continue to explore your interests and apply your skills, dive into additional projects after class ends, and continue to build your professional portfolio. It isn’t something you do to get a job, but something you continue to do in order to improve and grow over time.
3. Master Soft Skills for Interviewing
No matter how strong your technical skills, you will need strong soft skills to succeed in interviews. Things like good listening skills, communication skills, empathy, lateral problem solving skills, resourcefulness, and grit are all assessed (oftentimes in imperfect and biased ways) during interviews.
The best way to prepare is to read a couple of books on interview etiquette, what will be expected of you, and how to succeed. Two resources that we recommend are Get That Job and What I Wish Every Candidate Knew.
After you read these or other resources, you should set up practice interviews. Leverage the DS4A community to find others who are looking for interview practice, and you can take turns mock-interviewing one another. After your mock interview, get feedback from your interview partner on answers you provided that they thought were particularly good and ones that were not compelling. This will help you iterate and improve your pitch.
4. Master Non-Transactional Professional Relationships
Through DS4A, you are connected to extremely talented peers and to industry-leading mentors. You want to master the art of non-transactional relationship building. So, for example, it would not be a good idea to ask your mentor point-blank for a job opportunity (you don’t know if they are looking; you don’t know what they are looking for if they are in looking; they don’t know enough at the outset about your skills or personality), but it would be good to talk with them about your goals and challenges, and mention the things that you feel would help you.
Treat your interactions with your peers and mentors as a long-term relationship, one where you can offer value and also receive value in turn.
5. Give back to the DS4A Community
If you are not looking for a job, or if you successfully find a job, your interaction with the DS4A community need not be over. Remember that this community is as vibrant as its members, and that it thrives if everyone contributes to it.
If you are already happily employed, perhaps your employer would want to hire additional DS4A fellows. In that case, get in touch with Correlation One to invite your employer to our Career Fairs.