At The Data Incubator we run a free eight-week data science fellowship to help our Fellows land industry jobs. We love Fellows with diverse academic backgrounds that go beyond what companies traditionally think of when hiring data scientists. Ellen was a Fellow in our Spring 2016 cohort who landed a job with one of our hiring partners, Protenus.
Tell us about your background. How did it set you up to be a great data scientist?
The title data scientist implies both technical skills, as well as the ability to ask and answer questions scientifically. My academic decisions were driven by the desire to develop the second of these skills. I studied math in college because I was attracted to the logical way of thinking and proving concepts that I encountered in math class. I went on to do a PhD in neuroscience in part because I wanted to pursue a question to an extreme level of detail, leveraging the logic that I learned doing math. (I also wanted to understand how learning works at the level of neural ensembles, but that’s another story.)
As result of my academic trajectory I also learned to write analysis code. I enjoyed coding, and at first I considered it a perk of my particular field of neuroscience that a lot of coding (mostly in Matlab) was necessary for analyzing the large datasets I was collecting. However, I eventually came to appreciate coding in it’s own right and started taking steps to learn new languages and to improve my analyses by incorporating better tools. By this time I had realized that I would be happy doing coding full time, so The Data Incubator was a great segue way to new concepts and tools in the world of data science.