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Build a Career in Data Science
Emily Robinson and Jacqueline Nolis
  • MEAP began May 2019
  • Publication in April 2020 (estimated)
  • ISBN 9781617296246
  • 250 pages (estimated)
  • printed in black & white

It's by far one of the best books if you want to prepare yourself for a career in Data Science. It covers all of the basis that a Junior Data Scientist might require when they are starting out in the industry.

Gustavo Gomes
You are going to need more than technical knowledge to succeed as a data scientist. Build a Career in Data Science teaches you what school leaves out, from how to land your first job, to the lifecycle of a data science project, and even how to become a manager.
Table of Contents detailed table of contents

Part 1: Getting Started with Data Science

1 What is data science?

1.1 What is data science?

1.1.1 Mathematics/statistics

1.1.2 Databases/programming

1.1.3 Business understanding

1.2 Different types of data science jobs

1.2.1 1.2.1 Analytics

1.2.2 Machine Learning

1.2.3 Decision Science

1.3 Choosing your path

1.4 Interview with Robert Chang on what data science is and his journey

1.4.1 What was your first data science journey?

1.4.2 What should people look for in a data science job?

1.4.3 What skills do you need to be a data scientist?

1.5 Summary

2 Data science companies

2.1 MTC — the Massive Tech Company

2.1.1 Your team: one of many in MTC

2.1.2 The tech: advanced, but siloed across the company

2.1.3 The pros and cons of MTC

2.2 HandbagLOVE — the established retailer

2.2.1 Your team: a small group struggling to grow

2.2.2 Your tech: a legacy stack that’s starting to change

2.2.3 The pros and cons of HandbagLOVE

2.3 Seg-Metra — the early-stage startup

2.3.1 Your team—​what team?

2.3.2 The tech: cutting edge technology that is taped-together

2.3.3 Pros and cons of Seg-Metra

2.4 Videory — the late-stage, successful tech start-up

2.4.1 The team: specialized but still room to move around

2.4.2 The tech: trying to not get bogged down by legacy code

2.4.3 The pros and cons of Videory

2.5 Global Aerospace Dynamics (GAD) — the massive government contractor

2.5.1 The team—​a data scientist in a sea of engineers

2.5.2 The tech: old, hardened, and on security lockdown

2.5.3 The pros and cons of GAD

2.6 Putting it all together

2.7 Interview with Randy Au on different types of companies

2.7.1 Are there big differences between large and small companies?

2.7.2 Are there differences based on the industry of the company?

2.7.3 Should new data scientists be wary of startups since they’ll do tons of cleaning, pipeline creation, and unglamorous work?

2.7.4 What’s your final piece of advice for aspiring and junior data scientists?

2.8 Summary

3 Getting the Skills

3.1 Earning a data science degree

3.1.1 Choosing the school

3.1.2 Getting into an academic program

3.1.3 Academic degree summary

3.2 Going through a bootcamp

3.2.1 What you learn

3.2.2 Cost

3.2.3 Choosing a program

3.2.4 Data science bootcamp summary

3.3 Getting data science work within your company

3.3.1 Learning on the job summary

3.4 Teaching yourself

3.4.1 Self-teaching summary

3.5 Making the choice

3.6 Interview with Julia Silge, Data Scientist at Stack Overflow

3.6.1 Before becoming a data scientist you worked in academia; did the skills from your time there help you as a data scientist?

3.6.2 When deciding to become a data scientist, what did you use to pick up new skills?

3.6.3 Did you know going into data science what kind of work you wanted to be doing?

3.6.4 What would you recommend to people looking to get the skills to be a data scientist?

3.7 Summary

4 Building a Portfolio

4.1 Creating a project

4.1.1 Finding the data and asking a question

4.1.2 Choosing a direction

4.1.3 Filling out a GitHub README

4.2 Starting a Blog

4.2.1 Potential topics

4.2.2 Logistics

4.3 Example Projects

4.3.1 Data science freelancers – a project by Emily Robinson

4.3.2 Training a neural network on offensive license plates – a project by Jacqueline Nolis

4.4 Interview with David Robinson, Data Insights Engineering Manager at Flatiron Health

4.4.1 How did you start blogging?

4.4.2 Are there any specific opportunities you have gotten from public work?

4.4.3 Are there people you think would especially benefit from doing public work?

4.4.4 How has your view on the value of public work changed over time?

4.4.5 How do you come up with ideas for your data analysis posts?

4.4.6 What’s your final piece of advice for aspiring and junior data scientists?

4.5 Summary

Part 2: Finding your Data Science Job

5 The Search: Identifying the Right Job for You

5.1 Finding jobs

5.1.1 Decoding descriptions

5.1.2 Watching for Red Flags

5.1.3 Setting your expectations

5.1.4 Attending Meetups

5.1.5 Using social media

5.2 Deciding which jobs to apply for

5.2.1 Researching the company online

5.3 Interview with Jesse Mostipak, Managing Director of Data Science at Teaching Trust

5.3.2 How can you build your network?

5.3.3 What do you do if you don’t feel confident applying to data science jobs?

5.3.4 What would you say to someone who is reading job postings and thinks, “I don’t meet the full list of any job’s required qualifications?”

5.3.5 What’s your final piece of advice to aspiring data scientists?

5.4 Summary

6 The Application: Resumes and Cover Letters

6.1 Resume: the basics

6.1.1 Structure

6.1.2 Deeper into the experience section: generating content

6.2 Cover letters: the basics

6.2.1 Structure

6.3 Tailoring

6.4 Referrals

6.5 Interview with Kristen Kehrer, a data science instructor and course creator

6.5.1 How many times would you estimate you’ve edited your resume?

6.5.2 What are common mistakes you see people make?

6.5.3 Do you tailor your resume to the position you’re applying to?

6.5.5 What’s your final piece of advice for aspiring data scientists?

6.6 Summary

7 The interview: what to expect and how to handle it

7.1 What do companies want?

7.2 The interview process

7.3 Step one: the initial phone screen interview

7.4 Step two: the on-site interview

7.4.1 The technical interview

7.4.2 The cultural interview

7.5 Step three: the case study

7.6 Step four: the final interview

7.7 The offer

7.8 Interview with Ryan Williams, Senior Decision Scientist at Starbucks

7.8.1 What are the things you need to do knock an interview out of the park?

7.8.2 How do you handle the times where you don’t know the answer?

7.8.3 What should you do if you get a negative response to your answer?

7.8.4 What has running interviews taught you about being an interviewee

7.9 Summary

8 The Offer: Knowing What to Accept

8.1 The process

8.2 Receiving the offer

8.3 Negotiation

8.3.1 What is negotiable

8.3.2 How much you can negotiate

8.4 Negotiation Tactics

8.5 How to pick between two “good” job offers

8.6 Interview with Brooke Watson Madubuonwu, a Senior Data Scientist at the ACLU

8.6.1 What should you consider besides salary when you’re considering an offer?

8.6.2 What are some ways you prepare to negotiate?

8.6.3 What do you do if you have one offer but are still waiting on another one?

8.6.4 What’s your final piece of advice for aspiring and junior data scientists?

8.7 Summary

Part 3: Settling into Data Science

9 The First Months on the Job

9.1 The First Month

9.1.1 Onboarding at a large organization: a well-oiled machine

9.1.2 Onboarding at a small company: what onboarding?

9.1.3 Understanding and setting expectations

9.1.4 Knowing your data

9.2 Becoming productive

9.2.1 Asking questions

9.2.2 Building relationships

9.3 If you’re the first data scientist

9.4 When it’s not what was promised

9.4.1 The work is terrible

9.4.2 The work environment is toxic

9.4.3 Deciding to leave

9.5 Interview with Jarvis Miller, Data Scientist at Spotify

9.5.1 Can you tell us about your current role?

9.5.2 How did you feel right before you started your first data science job?

9.5.3 What were some things that surprised you?

9.5.4 What are some issues you faced in your first few months?

9.5.5 Can you tell us about one of your first projects?

9.5.6 What would be your biggest piece of advice for the first few months?

9.6 Summary

10 Making an effective analysis

10.1 The request

10.2 The analysis plan

10.3 Doing the analysis

10.3.1 Importing and cleaning data

10.3.2 Data exploration and modeling

10.3.3 Important points for exploring and modeling

10.4 Wrapping it up

10.4.1 Final presentation

10.4.2 Mothballing your work

10.5 10.5 Interview with Hilary Parker, a Data Scientist at Stitch Fix

10.5.1 How does thinking about others help your analysis?

10.5.2 How do you structure your analyses?

10.5.3 What kind of polish do you do in the final version?

10.5.4 How do you handle people asking for adjustments to an analysis?

10.6 Summary

11 Deploying a model into production

11.1 What is deploying to production anyway?

11.2 Making the production system

11.2.1 Data collection

11.2.2 Building the model

11.2.3 Serving models with APIs

11.2.4 Building an API

11.2.5 Documentation

11.2.6 Testing

11.2.7 Deploying an API

11.2.8 Load testing

11.3 Keeping the system running

11.3.1 Monitoring the system

11.3.2 Retraining the model

11.3.3 Making changes

11.4 Wrapping up

11.5 Interview with Heather Nolis, a Machine Learning Engineer at T-Mobile

11.5.1 What does “machine learning engineer” mean on your team?

11.5.2 What was it like to deploy your first piece of code?

11.5.3 If you have things go wrong in production, what happens?

11.5.4 What’s your final piece of advice for data scientists working with engineers?

11.6 Summary

12 Working with stakeholders

12.1 Types of stakeholders

12.1.1 Business stakeholders

12.1.2 Engineering stakeholders

12.1.3 Corporate leadership

12.1.4 Your manager

12.2 Working with stakeholders

12.2.1 Understanding the stakeholder’s goals

12.2.2 Constantly communicate

12.2.3 Be consistent

12.3 Prioritizing work

12.3.1 Both innovative and impactful work

12.3.2 Not innovative but still impactful work

12.3.3 Innovative but not impactful work

12.3.4 Neither innovative nor impactful work

12.4 Concluding remarks

12.5 Interview with Sade Snowden-Akintunde, a Data Scientist at Etsy

12.5.1 Why is managing stakeholders important?

12.5.2 How did you learn to manage stakeholders?

12.5.3 Was there a time where you had difficulty with a stakeholder?

12.5.4 What do junior data scientists frequently get wrong?

12.5.5 Do you always try to explain the technical part of the data science?

12.5.6 What’s your final piece of advice for junior or aspiring data scientists?

12.5.7 Summary

Part 4: Growing in your Data Science Role

13 When your data science project fails

13.1 Why data science projects fail

13.1.1 The data isn’t what you wanted

13.1.2 The data doesn’t have a signal

13.1.3 The customer didn’t end up wanting it

13.2 Managing risk

13.3 What you can do when your projects failed

13.3.1 What to do with the project

13.3.2 Handling negative emotions

13.4 Interview with Michelle Keim, Head of Data Science & Machine Learning at Pluralsight

13.4.1 What was a time you experienced a failure in your career?

13.4.2 Are there red flags you can see before a project starts?

13.4.3 How does the way a failure is handled differ between companies?

13.4.4 How can you tell if a project you’re on is failing?

13.4.5 How can you get over a fear of failing?

13.5 Summary

14 Joining the Data Science Community

14.1 Growing your portfolio

14.1.1 More blog posts

14.1.2 More projects

14.2 Attending Conferences

14.2.1 Dealing with social anxiety

14.3 Giving talks

14.3.1 Getting an opportunity

14.3.2 Preparing

14.4 Contributing to open source

14.4.1 Contributing to other people’s work

14.4.2 Making your own package or library

14.5 Recognizing and avoiding burnout

14.6 Interview with Renee Teate, Director of Data Science at HelioCampus

14.6.1 What are the main benefits of being on social media?

14.6.2 What would you say to people who say they don’t have the time to engage with the community?

14.6.3 Is there value in producing only a small amount of content, like writing just one blog post?

14.6.4 Were you worried the first time you published a blog post or gave a talk?

14.7 Summary

15 Leaving a job gracefully

15.1 Deciding to leave

15.1.1 Take stock of your learning progress

15.1.2 Check your alignment with your manager

15.2 How the job search differs after your first job

15.2.1 Deciding what you want

15.2.2 Interviewing

15.3 Finding a new job while employed

15.3.1 Handling your current work

15.4 Giving notice

15.4.1 Considering a counter-offer

15.4.2 Telling your team

15.4.3 Making the transition easier

15.5 Interview with Amanda Casari, Engineering Manager at Google

15.5.1 How do you know it’s time to start looking for a new job?

15.5.2 Have you ever started a job search and decided to stay instead?

15.5.3 Do you see people staying in the same job for too long?

15.5.4 Can you change jobs too quickly?

15.5.5 What’s your final piece of advice for aspiring and new data scientists?

15.6 Summary

16 Moving up the corporate ladder

16.1 The management track

16.1.1 Benefits of being a manager

16.1.2 Drawbacks of being a manager

16.1.3 How to become a manager

16.2 Principal data scientist track

16.2.1 Benefits of being a principal data scientist

16.2.2 Drawbacks of being a principal data scientist

16.2.3 How to become a principal data scientist

16.3 Switching to independent consulting

16.3.1 Benefits of independent consulting

16.3.2 Drawbacks of independent consulting

16.3.3 How to become an independent consultant

16.4 Choosing your path

16.5 Interview with Angela Bassa, Head of Data Science, Data Engineering, and Machine Learning at iRobot

16.5.1 What’s the day-to-day life as a manager like?

16.5.2 What are the signs you should move on from being an independent contributor?

16.5.3 Do you have to eventually transition out of being an independent contributor?

16.5.4 What advice do you have for someone who wants to be a technical lead but isn’t quite ready for it?

16.5.5 What’s your final piece of advice to aspiring and junior data scientist?

16.6 Summary

17: Epilogue

Appendix A: Example interview questions

A.1 Coding and software development

A.2 SQL and databases

A.3 Statistics and machine learning

A.4 Behavioral

A.5 Brain teasers

About the Technology

Harvard Business Review called data science “the sexiest job of the 21st century.” From analyzing drug trials to helping sports teams pick new draftees, data scientists utilize data to tackle the big questions of a business. But despite demand, high competition and big expectations make data science a challenging field for the unprepared to break into and navigate. Alongside their technical skills, the successful data scientist needs to be a master of understanding data projects, adapting to company needs, and managing stakeholders.

About the book

Build a Career in Data Science is your guide to getting your first data science job, then quickly becoming a senior employee. Industry experts Jacqueline Nolis and Emily Robinson lay out the soft skills you’ll need alongside your technical know-how in order to succeed in the field. Following their clear and simple instructions you’ll craft a resume that hiring managers will love, learn how to ace your interview, and ensure you hit the ground running in your first months at your new job. Once you’ve gotten your foot in the door, learn to thrive as a data scientist by handling high expectations, dealing with stakeholders, and managing failures. Finally, you’ll look towards the future and learn about how to join the broader data science community, leaving a job gracefully, and plotting your career path. With this book by your side you’ll have everything you need to ensure a rewarding and productive role in data science.

What's inside

  • Creating a portfolio to show off your data science projects
  • Picking the role that’s right for you
  • Assessing and negotiating an offer
  • Leaving gracefully and moving up the ladder
  • Interviews with professional data scientists about their experiences

About the reader

This book is for readers who possess the foundational technical skills of data science, and want to leverage them into a new or better job in the field.

About the authors

Jacqueline Nolis is a data science consultant and co-founder of Nolis, LLC, with a PhD in Industrial Engineering. Jacqueline has spent years mentoring junior data scientists on how to work within organizations and grow their careers. Emily Robinson is a senior data scientist at Warby Parker, and holds a Master's in Management. Emily's academic background includes the study of leadership, negotiation, and experiences of underrepresented groups in STEM.

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