21 Secret Confessions Everyone Should Hear Before Becoming a Data Scientist

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Lillian Pierson, P.E.

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(Preface: Today’s post is a guest post that was written by Aaron Gendle, a Senior Consultant and Data Architect at Eccella. In this post he has crowd-sourced comments from data scientists that everyone should here before deciding to become a data scientist.)

the data scientist confession

According to the Harvard Business Review, “Data Scientist” is the sexiest job of the 21st century.

Reading this article, I thought, “is that really true?”.

Ok, admit it, you’ve asked yourself this same question.  What’s so exciting about being a data scientist?

Yeah, we know, they get to do some fancy stuff with data, but… do data scientists love their careers or do the outsiders just believe they have it good?

Perhaps, your own career has stalled and you are interested in moving toward this trending career path. 21 secret confessions from a data scientist

The only way to answer this question, I thought, was to ask data scientists, “what do you love most about your job”.

So, I did just that.

After reaching out to dozens of data scientists on LinkedIn, I received some insightful responses.

These wonderful replies came from an assortment of …

  • Keynote Speakers
  • Authors
  • PhDs
  • Lead and Chief Data Scientists.
  • Ivy League Graduates
  • Employees of prestigious companies

Straight from the fingertips of the data scientist …

Answering the question As a data scientist, what do you love most about your job?“:

“I love that I can work in pretty much any sector at this point. There are really hard data problems to solve in every sector nowadays; as someone that has lots of different interests, data science is a really exciting adventure.”

Aakash Indurkhya | Echo360, Inc. | California Institute of Technology

Data Scientist and Machine Learning Engineer

“I love the fact in data science there is always something new to learn and each problem has something which makes it unique, different and challenging!”

Joel Sebold, Ph.D. | Thomson Reuters | New York University
Data Scientist and Analyst/Researcher

“Limitless learning opportunities. I can always do better with everything. The innovation and pace of change in this field is absolutely intoxicating. The unbelievable network and community of data scientists I collaborate with is 2nd to none when it comes to creativity and knowledge sharing.”

Bernard Ong | Lincoln Financial Group | Columbia University
Data Scientist, Machine Learning Specialist, Application Architect

“It is good to see knowledge discovered from the data (which is sometimes counter-intuitive) can be used to drive the business and beat the expert experience.”

Wen Zhang | American Express | Vanderbilt University
Data Scientist, Risk Manager

“The ability and capacity to use the latest technology to crunch data to derive meaningful ( and sometimes surprising ) insights that drive decisions. Sounds cliche, but you always find something new to test and derive an actionable insight.”

Sany Mathew | Pitney Bowes | Carnegie Mellon University
Data Scientist

  • “Explaining ML techniques and how to use these for the benefits of day-to-day jobs to the enthusiastic business stakeholders.”

  • “Training junior colleagues.”

  • “Exploring ways to implement DS tools and techniques to business functions such as HR or Law & Compliance and generating interests among my peers in those units.”

  • “Seeing the successful implementation of DS use-cases in production and subsequently helping the revenue stream of the company.”

Nurur Rahman, Ph.D. | Guardian Life Insurance Company | The George Washington University
Lead Data Scientist

“I have science background. I love science. Now every science field became data driven. So science means data science.”

Dmitry Tolstonogov | ADP | Russian Academy of Science
Senior Data Scientist

“Bringing structure to the unstructured in such a way that actionable objectives may be achieved.

Attempting to understand a complex idea well enough that I am able to communicate it to a non-technical resource or stakeholder.”

James Patounas | Source One Management Services | University of Washington
Senior Data Scientist

“What I love about Data Science is that it never gets boring. No matter how good you are there is always something new to be learned. A lot of challenging problems and opportunities to apply science to the real world.”

Rudy Agovic, Ph.D. | Reliancy | University of Minnesota
CEO & Chief Data Scientist

“Most interesting part is to turn a question from real business into a math question and to solve it with data.”

Chen Gao | Macy’s | Columbia University
Data Scientist

“That you can be prove or disprove anecdotal evidence with hard data and help organizations form strategies around facts instead of feelings.”

Omkar Dash | Chubb
Data Scientist

“I personally love devising better ways to address old problems. Also it’s exciting and can be applied to many different domains.”

Naman Jain | Argus Information and Advisory Services | Stevens Institute of Technology
Data Scientist

“I have been doing this for longer than… well, just about anyone. I learned to program on an IBM 1620 with Hollerith punch cards – and my first ‘real’ job was as a computer. Not working on computers, mind you; I’m old enough to remember when computer was a job – and I was one. What I love – and have always loved most about being working with data… I can’t believe they actually pay me to spend my days solving interesting puzzles and figuring things out! How cool is that?!? I get to learn new things, have conversations with fascinating people, play with ideas, and figure out what makes the real-world tick — and people pay me big bags of money to do it! You want to know what Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Bob Dylan, and Brad Pitt and I have in common? We can’t believe people pay us to do what we would pay to do! What I love most about being a Data Scientist? Being a Data Scientist! :-)”

JT Kostman, Ph.D. | Applied AI | City University of New York-Baruch College
Chief Data Scientist

“I really enjoy pursuing exploratory data analysis. You get exposed to a lot of interesting human behavior. I feel that is a major reason why I went the data science direction. Having been an electrical engineer I was limited to only the technical side. Data science is a perfect blend of analytical analysis and relationships with people.”

Swati Sharma, Ph.D. | Metis | Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Data Scientist

“The best thing about being a data scientist is the constant experience of discovery from things that people thought they knew inside and out.”

David Bruce Borenstein | Charity Navigator | Princeton University
Lead Data Scientist

“I love the diversity of Customer use cases. Listening to a Healthcare company discussing curable diseases one day, then an aerospace company discuss their deep space launch on another day is super compelling to me. In my years of experience I feel like I have heard it all but then I am in a meeting where someone opens my eyes to some other scenario I never imagined.”

William Cairns | Eccella | New Jersey Institute of Technology
Data Scientist

“What I love about being a data scientist: I get to talk to a range of stakeholders and imagine how to improve a process / generate new solutions using cool tech and math, and then get the chance to actually do it. Sweet!”

Fernando Schwartz | Prognos | Cornell University
Chief Data Scientist

“In terms of excitement: Being a data scientist allows you often “think” in terms of a physicist, mathematician, neuroscientist, or computer programmer – while simultaneously working on subject matter that you find fascinating in and of itself. Whether the problem is focused on finance, customer information, or language itself, data scientists get to take powerful, interesting algorithms that function across all disciplines and tailor them to the specific project(s) at hand.”

Max Henderson | QxBranch | Drexel University
Senior Data Scientist

“Structural thinking which excites me more when I know I am trying to bring some insights out of data.”

Sai Nampally | Innovyt | University of Central Missouri
Data Scientist

“What I love most about being a data scientist is the ability to find the solution in the data. I love the journey from the problem to the data exploration to the modeling to the solution.”

Ryan Sowers | Decision Resources Group | Harvard University
Director, Senior Data Scientist

“Problem solving, critical thinking, and getting the kicks when your models predict things better and faster than humans.”

Sreekanth Mallikarjun, Ph.D. | Reorg Research, Inc. | Stony Brook University
Senior Data Scientist

Hot or Not?

While we may not think of data itself being “sexy”, per se, it’s hard to deny, data scientists get to do some amazing work with data.

Moreover, these data scientists exuded great pride and gratitude for their positions.

The conclusion is obvious, data scientists love what they do.   

But what does this mean for you or I?  

We all understand, data is growing at a rapid pace.  Companies must leverage data, and pull actionable insights, to gain a competitive advantage.

This is a huge opportunity for anyone interested in the world of data science.  

If you aren’t already a data scientists and are interested in switching careers.  I would encourage you to go for it!  If you’d like personal guidance and mentorship through the process, Lillian Pierson has a great coaching program designed to help with that.

Guest Post By…

Guest Post Author, Aaron Gendle

I have included LinkedIn profile links to each of the data scientists in this post.  Connect with me on LinkedIn if you need an introduction.  Also be sure to check out my data blog! Lastly, reach out directly to these data scientists I interviewed here, or others, if you have more questions. 

Through the process of writing this article I discovered that people are willing to open up if you just ask.  We get afraid to step out and connect sometimes, but don’t be.  

There are some amazing people in this world, doing some mind-blowing work.  They would love to share those experiences with you and help you on your life’s journey.

It’s been a huge honor to connect with and share the thoughts of these brilliant data scientists.

If you are already a data scientist, my hats off to you. Well done.

I’m a fractional CMO that specializes in go-to-market and product-led growth for B2B tech companies.
If you’re looking for marketing strategy and leadership support with a proven track record of driving breakthrough growth for B2B tech startups and consultancies, you’re in the right place. Over the last decade, I’ve supported the growth of 30% of Fortune 10 companies, and more tech startups than you can shake a stick at. I stay very busy, but I’m currently able to accommodate a handful of select new clients. Visit this page to learn more about how I can help you and to book a time for us to speak directly.

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