Data science is a relatively new field; however, its growth is unlike any sector we’ve seen before. We’ve been entering the age of “Big Data” in the last few decades. Recent advances in technology and the increasing significance of the internet in every aspect of our lives has contributed to the data science sector’s rapid growth.
With such growth, many curious minds are attracted to a career in data science but feel reservations due to feelings of uncertainty about the sector and potential career options. LSE Careers welcomed panellists from the LSESU Data Science Society, Zhen Yen Chan, Pearl Yuan, Chris Chia, and Ramshankar Yadhunath, to provide insights and debunk myths around the data science sector
1. What is data science?
Data science is an interdisciplinary field that employs scientific methods, processes, programming, statistical, and computational techniques to extract knowledge from structured/unstructured data and use that knowledge to create actionable insights to apply to a broad range of domains. The current age of “Big Data” greatly increased its relevance, encroaching into numerous fields beyond economics, finance, and the social sciences.
2. Why should LSE students consider a career in data science?
Within its scholarship, there’s a perceived value to the concept and application of data science; you have data that is hard to understand but by simply inputting it within a series of code and programmes, you can derive meaning and see what is going on i.e., the trend, what it entails, etc.
Since data science is a rapidly growing field, there are tremendous opportunities available to young professionals. The demand is high, salaries are competitive, and equipped with many perks and room for career advancement – Forbes’ 2020 list of best employers are occupied by IT, internet, and software companies.
Regardless of whether you want to pursue a career in data science, it’s a very valuable skill to have. It’s widely applicable to any company connected to the internet – big data is everywhere! Every post you make on social media or transaction on your credit card creates a data point. These vast amounts of data have insights into consumer behaviour and drive their product strategy. Data science is about finding meaning in the unstructured data to inform companies to make data-driven decisions.
3. What are some career options and career areas in data science?
Firstly, do some research on the sector! Most large companies will have a technology and data departments, with some bigger than others. Zhen Yen Chan mentioned that within the first few weeks coming to LSE, she started to attend the LSE Careers technology coffee mornings.
Start to think about which and what kind of companies have products that you use multiple times a day. For example, banking, consultancy, marketing, and advertising agencies are sectors that use big data because of high volumes of human interaction.
Data science is quite a broad field, there’s data engineering, data analysis, data visualisation, data privacy and ethics. Note: A huge misconception about data science is that you need to be good at coding. Computer programming is a tool that we use to analyse the data. What is more important are your analytical skills and statistics – knowing how to read the data.
4. Are there resources for students?
Since data science is widely applicable by nature, there are numerous resources, platforms, and outlets available. LSE offers digital skills labs and offers many courses you can do at your own pace. There is also Kaggle which offers competitions and thousands of notebooks and public data sets that you can practice with.
Furthermore, there is a strong blogging community regarding data science such as Medium, Springboard, Datacamp, and Monkeylearn. These blogs are much easier to absorb and digest especially if you are a beginner!
Try not to be intimidated by the name! We often turn away from a career because we think that we don’t have the right skills or competencies to go down that path. If you’re a beginner, there’s always time to learn; if you think you’re not good at ‘coding’, you can practice using all these tools if you truly want to work in this sector.
With thanks to the LSE SU Data Science Society for sharing their insights. The Data Science Society hosts many events and workshops about the wondrous world of data science.
LSE Careers can help you every step of the way and help you formulate your next steps into a career in data science! Register for our themed weeks in data and tech to get notified for any of our events. Book an appointment to speak to one of our career consultants if needed.