Step 1) Work out why you want to become a data scientist
What gets you excited? Can you remember how you got pumped about Data Science? Was it something you saw at work, or was it a Youtube video by Siraj?
Understanding your deepest motivation is important because the journey won’t be easy or fun at all times. If you are pumped about what you are doing then this will act as that “North Star” you will need to guide your data science efforts. For example there are linguists who are awesome at Natural Language Processing just from having a passion about linguistics and using data science as a tool to better understand the written word.
Step 2) Work out if you are the kind of person who would do well in data science
From what I have seen there is a certain type of person who does well in data science, I mean we are all different, but these elements are important:
A love of learning, someone who incorporates learning into their life
Someone with a passion for analytics and data science, the kind of person who couldn’t imagine doing anything but data science
Someone who has a commercial focus, business acumen and is a great communicator
Well developed hacking skills, comfortable with wrangling data from multiple sources and coming up with something sensible.
A “try and see” mentality. Some people won’t start something if they can’t see clearly all the steps involved, much of what we do as data scientists is experimental.
Step 3) Plan your career change into data science
There are two scenarios here:
1) If you are a student you need to get as much practical experience working in an office as you can before you graduate. Apply for any internship going in data science, data analytics, anything with data. This real world experience will set you apart from others.
2) If you are already working you can try to step sideways towards data science by asking to take on more analytics work in your current role. Or you may have to become a data analyst, learn the ropes for a few years and then progress to a data science role. As long as you are working with data then you are in the right place!
There will be lots of people applying for Data Science positions, but if you are patient you can transition there over time, you may also get lucky and be able to move straight into a data science role.
Step 4) Think about the ideal job you’d like to do
Find a few jobs say 4 or 5 that get you excited. What are the common elements of the jobs? This will give you an idea of what skills you should learn, but to be sure arrange some coffee dates with data scientists (ideally in the hiring companies) and talk through what you need to know. Plan a progression for how you are going to get there.
Step 5) Set up a plan of attack to learn the skills you need
For example if I was to learn about a neural network….
Step 6) Set aside your time for learning, build a plan and stick to it
Ignore the shiny things other people are learning! You have your plan, commit a couple hours per day to it, know it is focused on getting you a job and stick to it!