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Getting Your First Job in Data Science

Getting your first data science job might be challenging, but it’s possible to achieve this goal with the right resources.

Before jumping into a data science career, there are a few questions you should be able to answer:

  • How do you break into the profession?
  • What skills do you need to become a data scientist?
  • Where are the best data science jobs?

First, it’s important to understand what data science is. To do data science, you have to be able to process large datasets and utilize programming, math, and technical communication skills. You also need to have a sense of intellectual curiosity to understand the world through data. To help complete the picture around data science, let’s dive into the different roles within data science.

The Different Data Science Roles

Data science teams come together to solve some of the hardest data problems an organization might face. Each individual of the team will have a different part of the skill set required to complete a project from end to end.

Data Scientists

Data scientists are the bridge between programming and algorithmic thinking. A data scientist can run a project from end-to-end. They can clean large amounts of data, explore data sets to find trends, build predictive models, and create a story around their findings.

Data Analysts

Data analysts sift through data and provide helpful reports and visualizations. You can think of this role as the first step on the way to a job as a data scientist or as a career path in of itself.

Data Engineers

Data engineers typically handle large amounts of data and lay the groundwork for data scientists to do their jobs effectively. They are responsible for managing database systems, scaling data architecture to multiple servers, and writing complex queries to sift through the data.

The Data Science Process

Now that you have a general understanding of the different roles within data science, you might be asking yourself “what do data scientists actually do?

Data scientists can appear to be wizards who pull out their crystal balls (MacBook Pros), chant a bunch of mumbo-jumbo (machine learning, random forests, deep networks, Bayesian posteriors) and produce amazingly detailed predictions of what the future will hold.

Data science isn’t magic mumbo-jumbo though, and the more precise we get about to clarify this, the better. The power of data science comes from a deep understanding of statistics,algorithms, programming, and communication skills. More importantly, data science is about applying these  skill sets in a disciplined and systematic manner. We apply these skill sets via the data science process. Let’s look at the data science process broken down into 6 steps.

Step 1: Frame the problem

Before you can start solving a problem, you need to ask the right questions so you can frame the problem.

Step 2: Collect the raw data needed for your problem

Now, you should think through what raw data you need to solve your problem and find ways to get that data.

Step 3: Process the data for analysis

After you collect the data, you’ll need to begin processing it and checking for common errors that could corrupt your analysis.

Step 4: Explore the data

Once you have finished cleaning your data, you can start looking into it to find useful patterns.

Step 5: Perform in-depth analysis

Now, you will be applying your statistical, mathematical and technological knowledge to find every insight you can in the data.

Step 6: Communicate the results of the analysis

The last step in the data science process is presenting your insights in an elegant manner. Make sure your audience knows exactly what you found.

If you worked as a data scientist, you would apply this process to your work every day.

What’s next?

Before you jump into data science and working through the data science process, there are some things you need to learn to become a data scientist.

Most data scientists use a combination of skills every day. Among the skills necessary to become a data scientist include an analytical mindset, mathematics, data visualization, and business knowledge, just to name a few.

In addition to having the skills, you’ll need to then learn how to use the modern data science tools. Hadoop, SQL, Python, R, Excel are some of the tools you’ll need to be familiar using. Each tool plays a different role in the data science process.

If you’re ready to learn more about data science, take a deeper look at the skills necessary to become a data scientist, and how to get a job in data science, download Springboard’s comprehensive 60-page guide on How to get your first job in data science.


How to get a Data Science Job

About Springboard: At Springboard, we’re building an educational experience that empowers our students to thrive in technology careers. Through our online workshops, we have prepared thousands of people for careers in data science.

Top Companies to work for if you are a data scientist

LinkedIn’s 2017 report had put Data Scientist as the second fastest growing profession and it’s number one on 2019’s list of most promising jobs. There are three main reasons why data science has been rated as a top job according to research. Firstly, the number of available job openings is rapidly increasing and the highest in comparison to other jobs, data science has an extremely high job satisfaction rating, and the median annual salary base is undeniably desirable.

While data science is unquestionably a fantastic career path regarding the impressive ratings and the fact that it is such an in-demand job, statistics show that there will be no slowing down for the surprisingly rapid increase for the demand of data scientists around the globe.

Checkout the top 5 companies to work for if you are a data scientist based on employee reviews, job satisfaction ratings, and CEO approval.

#1 Dataiku

Dataiku is a top-rated computer software company that was founded in 2013 and its headquarters can be found in New York. This company develops collaborative data science software and according to Glassdoor reviews, 99% of the employees that work for Dataiku would recommend working at this company and 100% approve of the CEO. This shows that the vast majority of the employees are satisfied with the company and they are also a top choice for data science and machine learning positions based on annual pay packages.

Checkout: Dataiku Careers

#2 StreamSets

StreamSets was founded in 2014, its headquarter is located in San Francisco, California. The company develops a DataOps platform that can allow business to manage streaming data flows. An impressive 98% of individuals employed at this company would recommend it to their friends and 100% of the employees here also approve of the CEO. StreamSets is a top option for data management and integration.

Checkout: StreamSets Careers

#3 1010 Data

1010 Data has its headquarter in the New York and the company has over 15 years of experience in handling data analytics with over 850 clients across various industries. It is ranked as the third best company to opt for as a data scientist, 1010 Data is also a great option with 96% of employees recommending the company and 99% of employees approving of the CEO.

Checkout: 1010 Data Careers

#4 Reltio

Reltio is based in Redwood Shores, California and the company was founded in 2011. This top-rated company is recommended by 96% of its employees and a top choice for data management and integration. Even though it is fourth on the list according to statistics, it is still a fantastic company to expand your experience as a data scientist.

Checkout: Reltio Careers

#5 Looker

Looker was founded in 2012 and its headquarters are located in Santa Cruz, California. Looker is suggested as a great company to opt for by 95% of their happy employees and 93% of the employees that work at Looker approve of the CEO. This company is great for business analytics.

Checkout: Looker Careers

How can you get a job as a data scientist?

Having a degree in Data Science, Computer Science, Mathematics, Statistics, Social Science, Engineering with additional knowledge of Python, R Programming, Hadoop increases the possibility of getting a starting position job. Plenty of universities offer specialized data science program both online and offline. In recent times, we have observed a rise in online masters in data science, because of the convenience it offers to professionals, especially those looking to switch careers.

Build a portfolio using real data to complete projects that can showcase your abilities as a data scientist. You could also opt for an internship to further develop your skills and knowledge as a data scientist.

Practice Makes Perfect – Free Data Science Interviews

The year 2019 has begun and many people have plans to become a data scientist. That is because data scientist has been ranked as one of the top jobs for the last several years. After learning the necessary skills, preparing and completing the interview can be an intimidating task. That is why interview practice is so important, and Pramp provides a free online environment for practicing a data science interview.

What is Pramp?

Pramp is a free peer-to-peer matching platform that enables you to practice a technical interview. After signing up, here is how the process works:

  1. You schedule an interview by choosing a date and time for when you would like the interview to occur.
  2. You then prepare for the interview with the materials Pramp provides. Pramp will supply interview questions and guidelines for being best prepared.
  3. Finally, you conduct the interview where you and the other person take turns interviewing each other.
  4. If desired, the process can be repeated multiple times.


Pramp takes two people preparing for a data science interview and matches them together.

Being on both sides of the interview is surprisingly very helpful. It allows you to practice your responses, and it allows you to understand what is important to the person asking questions. It is often more about understanding the problem and thinking through a solution, rather than identifying a right or wrong answer.

Pramp Live Video Interview
Pramp Live Video Interview

As a bit of a bonus, if you enjoyed interviewing with your peer and you’d like to practice with him/her again, Pramp has a feature for that. Who knows, that peer may become a friend or a coworker in the future.

Why Practice the Interview?

Even the best data scientists and engineers struggle to pass technical interviews. Let’s face it, technical interviews are challenging and intimidating. For many, the biggest challenge isn’t the coding question, but rather staying focused while solving a problem out loud and under time pressure in front of an interviewer.

Data from over 180,000 interviews scheduled on Pramp has shown that those who completed face-to-face mock interviews performed significantly better than those who just practiced alone. Plus, Pramp users have already found jobs at companies like: Google, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, Spotify, and many others.

Pramp Technical Coding Session
Pramp Technical Coding Session

More About Pramp

Pramp, a Y Combinator-funded company, has tackled the challenge of technical interviews by offering a free peer-to-peer mock interview platform helping data scientists and engineers practice technical interviews. In addition to data science, Pramp also offers interviews for:

  • Data Structures and Algorithms
  • System Design
  • Frontend Development
  • Behavioral Interviews

If you are looking to get into a data scientist or other technical role in 2019, Pramp is a site which can help you be better prepared for the interview.

Top 5 Places to Get a Data Scientist job

  1. LinkedIn They turn data into products better than anyone else.
  2. Facebook If you are the type of person that loves to analyze people’s lives, there is no better place.
  3. Twitter Duh, It’s Twitter. lots of data and lots of possibilities
  4. Cloudera Cloudera is a successful Hadoop-based startup. Build tools and explore huge datasets for a variety of industries.
  5. Kaggle If optimizing algorithms and really diving into the data to get every last ounce of information is your thing, then Kaggle is it. Plus, there is nowhere else you will get to work on so many important problems in such a wide range of domains. Unfortunately, Kaggle is not currently hiring any data scientists, but they most likely will be seeking more in the future.

There are many other companies hiring data scientists. Where would you like to be a data scientist?

Network World Article: Could data scientist be your next job?

Sandra Gittlen wrote a very nice article for Network World titled Could data scientist be your next job? She did an excellent job explaining the problem with defining exactly what a data scientist is. She also interviewed a couple people leading the push to get universities to provide data scientist training. According to her article and many others on the internet, it is a great time to be learning data science skills. Companies cannot find enough data scientists. Plus, Sandra was kind enough to interview me for the article.