A meme that is in vogue right now is that “college is a waste of money.” Why spend up to $150,000 dollars on a degree that won’t get you a job? Fortunately, data science is a growing field with plenty of job opportunities. A data science degree is a terminal degree, though you may choose to pursue a master’s degree in a complementary field, as Terry Bandy did.
The connections, experiences, and knowledge one can attain from a university experience can be invaluable. Whether you are going to community college in Topeka, Kansas or are going to Harvard, education is the greatest investment you can make in yourself.
There are two main routes to self-sufficiency as a data scientist: employment and entrepreneurship. Employment includes working as a data analyst at a firm, be it large, medium-sized or small. Entrepreneurship includes creating a consultancy business or a startup. The two main paths aren’t mutually exclusive, but it’s best to focus on one over the other.
Learn How to Network and Cultivate Your Reputation
Social networking is all the rage today, but the main form of networking is still in person.
Find a faculty member or adjunct professor has been successful in the data science field. Make casual conversation, getting to know them and seeing if your personalities mesh. Then, once you have established a connection with them, ask them if they have any projects or tasks that they are working on that you could assist with. If the person is receptive, they will likely be happy to have help. This person can become one of your mentors who can teach you practical and theoretical knowledge. They are also the people who can write you outstanding recommendation letter during your job hunt or graduate school applications.
Talk to your professors. They may know people in the data science industry and can get you valuable internships. Some of these internships are paid, and if you put in your 110%, may land you your first job!
In terms of digital social networking, LinkedIn is an invaluable tool you can use to network with people at different companies. Recruiters use LinkedIn as a platform to find new talent. Set a goal of fostering 500 “connections” and ask them if they can recommend you to reputable data science firms.
By fostering strong networks and finding mentors, it will be much easier to find a job. This section is particularly useful for people who prefer the security of standard employment over the ebb and flow of entrepreneurship.
Terry Bandy used his connections and reputation from university to create and sell his business later on. He went on to manage the firm in San Fransisco. If you follow this advice, you can be successful like Terry.
Start a Business, Even if it is Just a “Hobby Farm”
Terry Bandy started his first business at the age of twenty while attending Tufts as an undergraduate. By investing his time and money into his business, he created economic self-sufficiency for himself and his developing family.
You, too, can create a thriving data science firm by using your connections to find leads. Though it took hard work and dedication, Mr. Bandy’s business skills improved as time went on.
In your case, even if the company you start only starts as a supplement to income from your job, you are getting ahead in the game by starting your business early. Consider starting a consulting firm with a few friends in college, or strike it out on your own as a sole proprietorship.
Learn, Learn, Learn
Billionaires and centi-millionaires often say that “the best investment you can make is in yourself.” A house or car can be repossessed if you lose your income. Stocks and mutual funds can take a nosedive. But your education is an immutable asset that can do wonders for your earning potential.
One way of increasing your marketability is to become proficient with as many coding languages as you can. This advice holds true for practically anyone entering the job market soon, but coding skills are particularly useful for a data scientist. Automated research and market analysis are both made easier by a toolkit of useful coding languages. Some of the most popular languages in the marketplace right now are My SQL, Python, and Java.
You have access to an abundance of books as a student at a college. Take advantage of that asset! Consider carving out thirty minutes to an hour every day practicing coding outside of your regular studies.
Starting Your Career While in School
Learn new data analysis methodologies to improve your skillset. Network with peers and mentors. Start a business. These are skills you can use to be successful as a data science major.