Even though data science can be found in most of what we see and do on a daily basis, many of us are unaware of the actual scope of this field. You might be surprised to learn how often we experience the output of data science in our daily lives: starting with personalized ads on the web or discounts at the stores you shop at, traffic congestion forecasts on your phone, or those playful filters on mobile apps that instantly make you look like a superhero.
Robotics, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, quantum computers and other digital innovations are largely based on data science and are designed and developed to improve the quality of everyday life. And while the origins of this field have been around for the last millennium, the Harvard Business Review has recently named Data Scientist as The Sexiest Job of the 21st Century. This time, I want to introduce what makes the data scientist career so appealing.
What does the data scientist profession look like?
The need to analyze data and create data-driven products has been a source of rapid growth in the volume and variety of data we see on a day to day basis. Big data and growing computing capabilities have opened up opportunities for more qualitative research. Here, we can see the synthesis of business and science. Data science is an interdisciplinary specialty. This is best illustrated by the Venn diagram.
Over the time, it has been understood that programming, statistics and knowledge of a particular field are not enough, and that it is becoming increasingly common for data scientists to talk about the importance of communication and visualization. Earlier this year, the Harvard Business Review published an article on the world's leading data scientists. Most of them have indicated that communication is a fundamental skill in data science. This is indeed an unexpected insight! To anyone interested in data science, I would suggest reading an article that reveals the daily routine of data scientists in an unusual format.
How did I become a data scientist?
While studying physics, I chose a specialization in astrophysics. I expected a lot of theory and night stargazing, but what I actually encountered was lots of modeling, big data, and… programming.
When I was looking for a job in the financial sector, I had to justify and assure recruiters that data is the same everywhere – in space and on earth – and that I would not be bored working with less exotic financial data. Now that I have been working in the bank for five years, I can assure you that the data we analyze is no less interesting and complex.
Why do I enjoy Monday mornings?
People are surprised to learn that Monday morning is my favorite time of the week. On Monday morning, I write out all my plans for the week on a white sheet. That empty white paper, to me, stands for unlimited possibilities. And that is exactly what this job has to offer.
Data science is a great choice for curious people. To be a good data scientist, you will have to read scientific articles and follow the news. What seems to be the best solution today is not necessarily the best a few months down the line. This work, by no means, is just sitting behind a computer – it is a constant search for solutions to problems and working together with colleagues to do so.