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The Musings of a Young Data Scientist


This is a special guest blog from Elder Research Analyst Sarah Will. Learn more insight from Sarah on next week’s live expert panel, Modeling Analytics Dream Teams: Featuring Elder Research.


I quit my job as a Mathematical Statistician after one year and two days. I left behind great benefits, job security, and guaranteed raises entirely because I felt unfulfilled. I was bored, lacked a sense of a team, and had a narrow set of responsibilities that I knew weren’t using all the skills I had to offer. I had never heard of data mining before applying for a job with Elder Research, Inc. The job posting said they wanted 3-5 years of experience, but I put a heartfelt note in my cover letter that I was quantitative and creative and ready to learn. Luckily for me, the CEO was checking emails that day, and I guess he read something that intrigued him (Should I have been concerned that he was replying to emails on a Sunday? Possibly). Two months later, I was starting as an Analyst.

When hiring a data scientist, there are a number of things to keep in mind. First of all, carefully craft the job posting. While I was self-confident enough to apply for a job that I wasn’t qualified for on paper, not everyone will be. The more conscientious employees will self-disqualify, since they’re actually paying attention to the ad requirements. Listing tons of computer languages, software packages, and applications might scare applicants away, even if they’re perfectly capable of learning new tools quickly. The interview is also a crucial opportunity to win us over. Money and benefits aren’t everything. We want a chance to speak to the people we would be working with. We want to know the kinds of conversations we would be having, the kind of environment we would be working in. If someone from senior management doesn’t have a chance to talk with us as a prospective employee, would they have time for us when we were an employee? But sometimes, just like in dating, there’s a spark, a moment where you just knew. I knew I had to work for ERI.

What this job has come to be for me is so much more than I ever could have imagined. I’m in an environment that encourages learning every day. My work has the variety that I’ve always craved, because ERI respects, appreciates, and uses my diverse skillset. I feel valued, knowing that my work has a purpose and that my opinion is being heard. I’m no longer bored. Millennials get a bad rap for having a short attention span, but ultimately, that just makes us more efficient workers. Boredom is what breaks down our spirits. Keep us busy, and we’ll keep producing. Most of all, though, I have the best team. I can turn to anyone, even the Chief Scientist, with a question. If I’m ever struggling with a tasks, I can count on a coworker to help me out. At ERI, our team, the whole, is greater than the sum of its parts. This environment is what makes my job as a Data Scientist so great.

Sarah Will is an Analyst at Elder Research, Inc.




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One Response to “The Musings of a Young Data Scientist”

  1. Q&A with Analytics 2013 speaker & Talent Analytics CEO Greta Roberts Says:

    September 27th, 2013 at 10:25 am

    […] young Data Scientist.  This blog may also provide some guidance to those considering the field – The Musings of a Young Data Scientist.  This provides an inside view directly from a successful Data Scientist in the […]

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