At The Data Incubator we run a free eight-week Data Science Fellowship Program 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. Phillip was a Fellow in our spring cohort who landed a job with one of our hiring partners, Optoro.
Tell us about your background. How did it set you up to be a great Data Scientist?
When I started grad school at Penn State, I thought I wanted to be a more straight-ahead experimental physicist. I worked for a while in an atomic physics lab, but found that I missed writing code. I looked around the physics department and found a group that was doing computational neuroscience. My advisor, Dezhe Jin, had an idea for a project using ideas from neuroscience to design better speech recognition systems. I enjoyed building up a new way of attacking an old problem, more or less disregarding the standard methods used in the field. I also got to try my hand at a lot of machine learning and statistical methods in the process.
As I was finishing my PhD, I was looking around for new and interesting problems to work on. An email about The Data Incubator circulated around the physics department and I thought I’d give it a try. I knew I’d made the right decision because I had a lot of fun doing the take-home problems in the application. I had to apply twice before I was accepted, but my persistence paid off.
What do you think you got out of The Data Incubator?
Another great thing about the program was the opportunity to hear directly from company representatives during the panel discussions. This helped me get a feel for the lay of the land and discover what types of jobs were out there. There were a lot of companies where I never would have considered applying, but once I heard what they were doing with data and about the scope of their technical ambitions, I became really interested.
What advice would you give to someone who is applying for The Data Incubator, particularly someone with your background?
Could you tell us about your Data Incubator Capstone project?
How did the job-placement process go for you? Do you have any advice for Fellows entering the program?
On a related note, be sure to get your resume in good shape early on, and ask for feedback on it from The Data Incubator’s staff. At a lot of companies, your info gets passed to someone who’s not familiar with The Data Incubator, and so all they know about you is what’s on that one piece of paper. I ended up removing a lot of fluff about awards and honors from my resume, and added more specifics about the skills I picked up through The Data Incubator and my PhD.
The best general job-hunting advice I heard came from Jon at The Data Incubator. He compared the application process to a funnel: you have to put lots of stuff in at the top of the funnel in order to get just a few offers to trickle out the bottom. The worst thing you can do is to attach your hopes to a single job and to stop feeding the funnel. Being in The Data Incubator doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get a job, but it does give you a leg up over the competition. Keep an open mind about the available opportunities, and be confident in the skills you’ve obtained. Good luck!
Visit our website to learn more about our offerings:
- Data Science Fellowship – a free, full-time, eight-week bootcamp program for PhD and master’s graduates looking to get hired as professional Data Scientists in New York City, Washington DC, San Francisco, and Boston.
- Hiring Data Scientists
- Corporate data science training
- Online data science courses: introductory part-time bootcamps – taught by our expert Data Scientists in residence, and based on our Fellowship curriculum – for busy professionals to boost their data science skills in their spare time.