Build a Career in Data Science
Emily Robinson and Jacqueline Nolis
  • March 2020
  • ISBN 9781617296246
  • 354 pages
  • printed in black & white

Full of useful advice, real-case scenarios, and contributions from professionals in the industry.

Sebastián Palma Mardones, ArchDaily
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.

Listen to this book in liveAudio! liveAudio integrates a professional voice recording with the book’s text, graphics, code, and exercises in Manning’s exclusive liveBook online reader. Use the text to search and navigate the audio, or download the audio-only recording for portable offline listening. You can purchase or upgrade to liveAudio here or in liveBook.

About the Technology

What are the keys to a data scientist’s long-term success? Blending your technical know-how with the right “soft skills” turns out to be a central ingredient of a rewarding career.

About the book

Build a Career in Data Science is your guide to landing your first data science job and developing into a valued senior employee. By following clear and simple instructions, you’ll learn to craft an amazing resume and ace your interviews. In this demanding, rapidly changing field, it can be challenging to keep projects on track, adapt to company needs, and manage tricky stakeholders. You’ll love the insights on how to handle expectations, deal with failures, and plan your career path in the stories from seasoned data scientists included in the book.
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 Business Intelligence

1.2.2 Machine Learning

1.2.3 Decision Science

1.3 Choosing your path

1.4 Interview with Robert Chang, data scientist at Airbnb

What was your first data science journey?

What should people look for in a data science job?

What skills do you need to be a data scientist?


2 Data science companies

2.1 MTC: 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’s taped together

2.3.3 Pros and cons of Seg-Metra

2.4 Videory: The late-stage, successful tech startup

2.4.1 The team: Specialized but with room to move around

2.4.2 The tech: Trying to avoid getting bogged down by legacy code

2.4.3 The pros and cons of Videory

2.5 Global Aerospace Dynamics: The giant 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, quantitative user experience researcher at Google

Are there big differences between large and small companies?

Are there differences based on the industry of the company?

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


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 Summarizing learning on the job

3.4 Teaching yourself

3.4.1 Summarizing self-teaching

3.5 Making the choice

3.6 Interview with Julia Silge, data scientist and software engineer at RStudio

Before becoming a data scientist, you worked in academia; how have the skills learned there helped you as a data scientist?

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

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

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


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 Working on example projects

4.3.1 Data science freelancers

4.3.2 Training a neural network on offensive license plates

4.4 Interview with David Robinson, data scientist

How did you start blogging?

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

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

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

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

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


Chapters 1—​4 resources

BooksBlog posts


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, developer advocate at Kaggle

How can you build your network?

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

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

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


6 The application: Résumés and cover letters

6.1 Résumé: 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, data science instructor and course creator

How many times would you estimate you’ve edited your résumé?

What are common mistakes you see people make?

Do you tailor your résumé to the position you’re applying to?

What strategies do you recommend for describing jobs on a résumé?

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


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

7.1 What do companies want?

7.1.1 The interview process

7.2 Step 1: The initial phone screen interview

7.3 Step 2: The on-site interview

7.3.1 The technical interview

7.3.2 The behavioral interview

7.4 Step 3: The case study

7.5 Step 4: The final interview

7.6 The offer

7.7 Interview with Ryan Williams, senior decision scientist at Starbucks

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

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

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

What has running interviews taught you about being an interviewee?


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 choose between two “good” job offers

8.6 Interview with Brooke Watson Madubuonwu, senior data scientist at the ACLU

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

What are some ways you prepare to negotiate?

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

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


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 the job isn’t 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

What were some things that surprised you in your first data science job?

What are some issues you faced?

Can you tell us about one of your first projects?

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


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 Interview with Hilary Parker, data scientist at Stitch Fix

How does thinking about other people help your analysis?

How do you structure your analyses?

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

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


11 Deploying a model into production

11.1 What is deploying to production, anyway?

11.2 Making the production system

11.2.1 Collecting data

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, machine learning engineer at T-Mobile

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

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

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

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


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 Communicating constantly

12.2.3 Being 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, data scientist at Etsy

Why is managing stakeholders important?

How did you learn to manage stakeholders?

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

What do junior data scientists frequently get wrong?

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

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


Chapters 9—​12 resources



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 fail

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 and machine learning at Pluralsight

When was a time you experienced a failure in your career?

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

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

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

How can you get over a fear of failing?


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

What are the main benefits of being on social media?

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

Is there value in producing only a small amount of content?

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


15 Leaving your 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

15.4 Giving notice

15.4.1 Considering a counteroffer

15.4.2 Telling your team

15.4.3 Making the transition easier

15.5 Interview with Amanda Casari, engineering manager at Google

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

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

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

Can you change jobs too quickly?

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


16 Moving up the 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

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

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

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

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

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




Appendix A: Interview questions

A.1 Coding and software development

A.1.1 FizzBuzz

A.1.2 Tell whether a number is prime

A.1.3 Working with Git

A.1.4 Technology decisions

A.1.5 Frequently used package/library

A.1.6 R Markdown or Jupyter Notebooks

A.1.7 When should you write functions or packages/libraries?

A.1.8 Example manipulating data in R/Python

A.2 SQL and databases

A.2.1 Types of joins

A.2.2 Loading data into SQL

A.2.3 Example SQL query

A.2.4 Example SQL query continued

A.2.5 Data types

A.3 Statistics and machine learning

A.3.1 Statistics terms

A.3.2 Explain p-value

A.3.3 Explain a confusion matrix

A.3.4 Interpreting regression models

A.3.5 What is boosting?

A.3.6 Favorite algorithm

A.3.7 Training vs. test data

A.3.8 Feature selection

A.3.9 Deploying a new model

A.3.10 Model behavior

A.3.11 Experimental design

A.3.12 Flaws in experimental design

A.3.13 Bias in sampled data

A.4 Behavioral

A.4.1 Project that had the most impact

A.4.2 Data surprises

A.4.3 Previous job reflections

A.4.4 Senior person making a mistake based on data

A.4.5 Disagreements with teammates

A.4.6 Difficult problems

A.5 Brain teasers

A.5.1 Estimation

A.5.2 Combinatorics

What's inside

  • Creating a portfolio of data science projects
  • Assessing and negotiating an offer
  • Leaving gracefully and moving up the ladder
  • Interviews with professional data scientists

About the reader

For readers who want to begin or advance a data science career.

About the authors

Emily Robinson is a data scientist at Warby Parker. Jacqueline Nolis is a data science consultant and mentor.

placing your order...

Don't refresh or navigate away from the page.
print book $24.99 $39.99 pBook + eBook + liveBook
Additional shipping charges may apply
Build a Career in Data Science (print book) added to cart
continue shopping
go to cart

eBook $31.99 3 formats + liveBook
Build a Career in Data Science (eBook) added to cart
continue shopping
go to cart

Add liveAudio for only $19.99
Prices displayed in rupees will be charged in USD when you check out.
customers also reading

This book

FREE domestic shipping on three or more pBooks