Today’s Sexiest New Career: Data Scientist

data scientistDo you find yourself staring at a string of numbers and suddenly shouting “Eureka!”? Are you intrigued by data and the way that it can be interpreted for the good of humanity? Are you curious, innovative and constantly postulating “what if” scenarios? You might have the makings to jump into today’s latest sexy career and become a data scientist.

Described as “part analyst, part artist,” being a data scientist is not just about processing big data, but at looking at the information as a whole and figuring out how the information is relevant. Here, analysis is key, but business acumen plays a crucial part in figuring out how that analysis matters and going beyond merely being a data analyst. Part of the job includes communicating findings to business and IT leaders so that the conclusions can influence the organization itself. The goal is not just to understand information, but to put it into effect and use it.

Says Anjul Bhambhri at IBM, “A data scientist is somebody who is inquisitive, who can stare at data and spot trends. It’s almost like a Renaissance individual who really wants to learn and bring change to an organization.” The key to this is to look at multiple sources of information that may not seem to be connected at all. The data scientist’s job is to see the connections and discover the practical applications that were hidden within it. They look at information not straight on, but through a microscope, a magnifier, a periscope, a kaleidoscope, an MRI machine – these different angles and their unique interpretations are what allow them to explore new territory and change the way an entire company operates. The information is all there, but it needs someone to make sense of it, an explorer, an interpreter, an analyst – a data scientist.

And how do you become a data scientist? Formal training includes a foundation in computer science and applications, modeling, statistics, analytics and math. Which means the College of Computing and Information. Here is one more fascinating career option you can add to your list of possibilities, and if it seems like something you’d like to explore further, you can also register for Dr. Hao Wang’s special topics course, Applied Informatics for Public Policy and Management offered at an undergraduate level (INF 496) or graduate level (INF 596). Good luck exploring this exciting new career, or whatever else catches your fancy!

Image by Klaster It  {link to}


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