Preparing for a job in data science

Considering a career in data science? Get prepared!

Hone your technical skills

  • Get good at one language (Java or R or Python or something else) and then try out additional ones
  • Get your code out and posted whether on GitHub or your own site or elsewhere
  • Take on challenges and data science puzzles through in-person hackathons or online sites like Kaggle (be sure to check out the terms and fine print)
  • Practice debugging and troubleshooting (this happens a lot in jobs and internships)
  • Ground yourself in statistics and math (know the “why” behind the “what”)
  • Look for classes and opportunities that fit your learning goals and resources (free online classes, one-day workshops, fee-based certificates, full-time graduate programs, and more)
  • Don’t forget the basics! Brush up on your Excel and SQL as many data scientists interact with business teams or units that use database software

Sharpen your communication skills

  • Talk to data scientists in a variety of companies and organizations—consider what kind of office will be a good fit for your strengths, skills, interests, and goals
  • Practice whiteboard coding problems and working with complex data sets (tons of data sets are publicly available online) to prepare for interviews. Try talking out loud about what you are doing and why you are doing it
  • Check out classes, clubs, and workshops that promote cross-disciplinary conversations and presentations. Data scientists may end up working with professionals in product development, finance, engineering, human resources, and more. Being able to communicate highly technical information in ways that are clearly understood by a range of backgrounds is essential to long-term success
By Catherine Basl
Catherine Basl Career Counselor Catherine Basl