Professional Spotlight: Interview with Data Scientist Dr. Andrew Graczyk

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Why did you choose to become a data scientist?

Prior to data science, I was a professor. But I (and many of my fellow young Ph.D.s) gradually realized that the academic job market has serious problems that prevent it from absorbing and properly utilizing all of the talented candidates who are getting their doctorates. Data science offers a way for people with strong mathematical and statistical backgrounds to apply their industry knowledge and research acumen to problems in the private sector in a much livelier job market (also for substantially better pay than is offered in academia). I also felt that data science, as a fast-growing, dynamic field, would allow me to expand my skills and insights faster than in academia.

Can you describe your path to a career in data science?

My first problem once I decided to switch careers was how, exactly, to transition. While I was highly educated, I had no specific certifications or qualifications that many jobs were looking for. That is why I chose to enroll in The Data Incubator. The Data Incubator specializes in taking candidates with strong academic backgrounds and helping them to learn how to conduct and communicate data science effectively in the private sector. They also help to match their students with prospective employers, which enabled me to get my first job in data science at Cova Strategies (which later transitioned to a role at NNData as senior data scientist).

What are some high and low points for this career? What challenges might a data scientist face?

While I am likely not in a good position to comment on career highs and lows (I have not been in data science for that long), I can say that the biggest challenge I faced in data science was believing myself to actually be qualified. Even after getting my first data science role, I felt much of the same imposter syndrome that plagues many people, especially those coming from academia.

What type of person does well in this role?

People who have a strong grasp of mathematics and statistics and can learn and apply new techniques rapidly. Data science is a rapidly evolving field; methods change, new techniques develop, and there is always something relevant to discover, understand, and integrate into new or even existing projects. No one can stay informed on every topic, so there will inevitably be times when you have to learn on the fly to use the latest or best techniques to solve a problem.

What advice do you have for students considering a career in data science?

First, as I mentioned earlier, data science is much more an exercise in mathematical and statistical reasoning than anything else, so don’t neglect your mathematics! Second, be prepared to be a pioneer. While many people have attempted to solve almost any problem (Stack Overflow is proof of that), few have likely tried to solve the problems you will be facing with the exact intention that you have. Be prepared to combine solutions together, modify code, or apply technologies in ways they may not have been initially intended. That’s what makes data science into a “data art,” and that’s what makes it fun! Third, especially if the student is coming from a graduate program, know your value. If you have (or are about to have) a Ph.D., you probably know something! You are more qualified than you likely give yourself credit for, and should not let yourself forget that. Finally, getting your foot in the door in any industry can be hard. Try and find some certification program, course, or something that signals to companies that you are serious and able to apply your skills to meet their needs. Beyond that, just remember that, like any career, a career in data science is a journey. Be prepared for the unexpected and to find your ideal niche in a company (and the wider industry) where you may not initially expect.

Want to Join Dr. Gracyk as a Data Scientist? What Are You Waiting For?

There has never been a better time to become a data scientist or data engineer. Data skills are an invaluable asset that equips data professionals with the tools to provide accurate, insightful, and actionable data. The Data Incubator offers an immersive data science boot camp where industry-leading experts teach students the skills they need to excel in the world of data.

We also partner with leading organizations to place our highly trained graduates. Our hiring partners recognize the quality of our expert training and make us their go-to resource for providing quality, capable candidates throughout the industry.

Take a look at the programs we offer to help you achieve your dreams.

We’re always here to guide you through your data journey! Contact our admissions team if you have any questions about the application process.

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