Dear Data Scientist

Ever had anyone come into your office and say “You’re a Data Scientist right?”. Depending on the next sentence following that question, a Data Scientist’s heart will either flutter or drop to their toes.

Separating the Wheat from the Chaff

One thing you have to ask yourself is what really makes a “Data Scientist”. I was recently hiring a handful of Data Scientists and had to answer the question “what do I look for?”. Does a nerd with a Stats background trump a nerd with a Engineering degree (not that I’m biased)? Interesting question. Everyone is trying to cash-in on the 21st Century’s Most Sexiest Job. If you’re interested in a history lesson, look to Forbes. Colleges are adding B.S. Data Science to their curriculum and companies are internally training their staff to add to their analytics portfolios – hey you!…you can make a bar graph right? You’re now a Data Scientist. Wrong!

Wars in the Data Science World

If you really want to light the Data Science world on fire, ask a Data Scientist which programming language is better, R or Python. It’s better that you know both because your next job may be an “R-shop” and they will think you’re crazy for using Python. The best infographic I have ever seen on this subject explains:

 ANSWER: The closer you are to statistics the more you might prefer R….the closer you are to engineering the more you might prefer Python

Another Big Data war is how to answer the “at scale” issue. What does that mean? Distributed computing on hardware or in the cloud. There are a lot of experts out there….and even more tools… good luck. Hadoop versus Spark pure? That’s like throwing a CUDA computer into a room with two Data Scientists just to see who comes out alive.

Take It Easy

Most non-data people will have no idea what they’re asking from you, the Data Scientist, so your best weapon is simple explanations and whiteboards. Colleges are jumping aboard the Data Science money train now, so it will be difficult to find the truly curious ones vice the money chasers. So ask questions in the interview that tests their brain and not their book knowledge.




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