A Step-by-Step Guide to Transitioning your Career to Data Science – Part 1

I always believe in playing to your strengths.

Let me explain this approach in detail.

Step one: Discover your dream jobData science is used in several domain areas (such as marketing, finance, HR, etc) to solve interesting business problems.

Your first step is to choose a data science job title within your domain.

Let me illustrate this with an example.

I will assume that I am a digital marketer looking to transition to data science.

If I Google “marketing data science jobs”, I get a list of job postings with the following titles:I then go through each description to understand which of these job titles closely match my current skills (in terms of domain knowledge).

By doing this exercise, I find out that “Marketing Data Analyst” role is a good fit for me.

I also discard senior roles because they need prior experience in data science – so they wont be good targets.

Heres a Marketing Data Analyst job description: A strong candidate for this job role will have decent Google Analytics skills, understands online metrics (such as visits, conversion rates, etc), and should know how to perform campaign analysis.

If I am a digital marketer who has these skills then I am a strong candidate for this role.

Here are the technical skills listed in the job description:In this stage, I am not going to worry about the technical and analytical skills listed in the job description because my focus is only on domain knowledge.

You can apply the same principle to choose a job title to target within your domain area.

Once you have decided your target job role, it’s time to shortlist your target companies.

Step 2: Discover your dream companyYou have to shortlist 5 companies to target using one of these two criteria:I have found companies that mostly hire data science professionals usually fall within one of these categories:It is pretty difficult to get an entry-level data science job in major tech companies (such as Facebook, Google or Amazon) so dont target them.

For my “Marketing Data Analyst” role, I have shortlisted top 5 banks in Canada:Step 3: Network with right peopleYouve picked a target job role and a few companies.

Youve done your homework.

But theres only so much you can do from your room.

You still have lots of questions, like:Can I actually get this job?What should I do next?How do you answer these questions?By testing.

Except this time, youll talk to real people: the ones who have already been there before.

Here are the steps that you can follow:The first step is to use LinkedIn to find at-least 2 people who already have your target job title at each of your target company.

In my case, I will type “Marketing Data Analysts TD Bank” in the LinkedIn search bar to get my target list of people in TD Bank.

If they have 500+ connections on LinkedIn,  I will then contact them via LinkedIn or else I will contact them via email.

You can use a tool called “Voila Norbert” to get their official email id.

  You just need to enter their name and the domain name of their organization in this tool to get their email id.

You can use some of these templates to get in touch with your contacts:Initial LinkedIn request message:I was doing some research on Marketing Data Analyst positions on LinkedIn, and I noticed youre a Marketing Data Analyst at [company name].

Your career path is very inspirational to me.

Im on a quest for my dream job and would love to ask you 3-5 questions about your career path.

Once they accept your LinkedIn request:Thank you for accepting my request.

My name is [name], and [a few words about you].

As I said before, Im on a quest for my dream job ([Your Target Job Title]) and would love to ask you 3-5 questions about your experience at [company name].

Your insights would be helpful for me.

I will be in town from Friday (14th Sep) to Monday (17th Sep).

Would you be available for a quick chat over coffee anytime from 14th September to 17th September?You can use the above LinkedIn message as your first contact email, with the following subject line:Aspiring data scientist — looking for advice from the bestIf you don’t hear back from them after 3 days, then send a follow-up email like this: I wanted to follow up on my previous message.

 At this point, I have:I do have few questions regarding my approach – that’s why I am reaching out to experts like you (who already possess my dream job).

I strongly believe that your guidance and feedback on my approach to data science job market would help me a lot.

Again, if you don’t hear back from them after 2 working days, send one more follow up email:Hi [name], I wanted to reach out one last time on my previous message.

If I don’t hear back from you, I’ll  assume the timing isn’t right.

Your guidance would help me a lot in the pursuit of my dream job journey.

Before you contact any of your targets, see if you know someone who can introduce you to them.

It can be your college alumni or your ex-colleague.

You can also use a simple excel sheet to keep track of this entire process.

Here’s an example:Assuming one of your target prospects say yes, lets talk about what to do at that actual meeting.

Remember that these Informal meetings are for you to test your ideas and gain new insights.

They are NOT to get hooked up with a job.

Never ask for one here.

You are in the research phase.

Right now youre just gathering information.

Theyre also not to talk about yourself, so kindly listen.

Your job is to learn here, not to talk about yourself.

If you have a half-hour meeting, you should spend approximately 25 minutes asking them questions.

In the last five minutes, you can spend a few minutes talking about yourself.

Try to ask smart questions.

You try to answer each question yourself before you actually ask it.

Scenario-plan each answer out.

Here are some questions you can ask:After the meeting, send them a thank you email the same day.

Just wanted to thank you again for meeting with me yesterday – it was incredibly helpful.

I think my next steps are [Include a few things from your conversation].

Please let me know if theres anything I can do to repay the favor!You should meet at-least 2 people at your target company.

Till now, youve had ten coffee meetings and have answers to all your questions.

What you do with all these answers?.How do you convince the people you have met that you are a strong candidate?That’s exactly what I’m going to talk about in my next blog post.

Stay tuned.

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