PhD in Astrophysics, Keele University
|Community Manager & Data Scientist|
Year entered into non-academic position: 2016
Job highlight: Being able help graduates of Masters and PhDs see the incredible opportunities within data science.
What’s your background?
I did my undergraduate degree in mathematics and astronomy at the University of Sheffield. From there I went on to get my PhD in astrophysics from Keele University.
Why did you move away from academia?
At the end of my PhD I was at a crossroads of whether to continue in academia or pursue other avenues. I did apply for both and decided the security, progression, and opportunity to use my skills within data science was the right choice for me. Even better, I don’t have to move around every few years, I don’t have to worry about applying for grants and I have a good work-life balance.
How did you prepare for the work involved in your job?
When I finished my PhD, I participated in the data science boot camp run by Pivigo, called Science to Data Science (S2DS). It gave me the real-world project experience I needed to get on the data science career path.
Can you describe a typical week in your job?
My role is very diverse and I get to work with many different sides of the company. As such my typical week may consist of the following: –
- Mentoring students on the Science to Data Science program to foster their communication skills, ensure that they are communicating well within their team, and to the company they are working with.
- Meeting with the company representatives of the Science to Data Science projects to ensure that they are happy with the progress of the projects.
- Giving university talks, webinars and conference talks about careers outside of academia to postgraduates.
- Producing content such as YouTube videos and blogs to help the global community of aspiring data scientists get started on the road to becoming a data scientist.
- Working as part of the data science team where we are working on internal data science projects to help the business grow and scale up.
What’s the workplace culture like?
Fantastic! When we are all together in the office there is a great atmosphere. Teamwork is at the heart of what we do, and this really helps move projects forward and makes sure they are completed to a high standard. We also socialise as a group and have had some great company meals that strengthen the bond we have.
Which transferable skills are most important to your job?
Communication is the number one transferable skill that we learn from academia. Of course, the technical skills are also important but communicating the results of your work in a clear and easy to understand way is core to being a good data scientist.
What’s the best part of your job?
For me, the most rewarding part is mentoring the participants through S2DS and seeing them go on to get really great jobs.
Communication is key! As a data scientist, your stakeholders could be from a technical or non-technical background. Being able to explain the work you are doing in a clear and easy to understand way is really important. So, when you apply for roles outside academia make sure to highlight this skill.
What would you like to achieve in the future?
I want to be able to inform postgraduate students all over the world about the opportunities available to them if they are considering a career outside of academia and to show them that the careers in data science are numerous, varied and interesting.
Do you have any advice for current graduate students and postdocs considering a career outside of academia?
Your skills are in high demand in many career choices outside of academia. Your blend of programming, mathematics, statistics and curiosity are a great foundation for a career in data science, and your ability to communicate complex concepts to technical and non-technical audiences alike is a powerful skill. There are three topics I would suggest you have a working knowledge of, Python or R, Machine Learning and SQL, to help you get started on the road to being a data scientist. There are loads of great courses out there to help you pick up these skills and if you register with www.pivigo.com you will find an extensive repository of resources to help you learn and upskill. I would also highly recommend reading “Just Listen” by Mark Goulston and “Crucial Conversations” by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron Mcmillan and Al Switzler. These two books are useful to help improve your communications skills.
Pivigo is the data science hub and offers data science on demand, making it possible for organisations of all sizes and in all sectors to benefit from the power of data. It’s global marketplace – the first of its kind launched in Europe – connects organisations to an exceptional pool of passionate data scientists from all over the world, allowing them to outsource projects on a freelance basis. The diverse and growing community of data scientists that Pivigo has created is supplemented by its Science to Data Science (S2DS) training programme – Europe’s largest data science boot camp. The programme trains 140 academics a year to become fully-rounded data scientists in just five weeks.
Through its global hub and S2DS programme, Pivigo is building the world’s largest community of data scientists, giving them the opportunity to use their talent to help businesses, government organisations and not-for-profits unlock opportunities within data.
To find out more please visit www.pivigo.com, or to find out more about our Science to Data Science Bootcamp email our community manager, Deepak, firstname.lastname@example.org.