NYC Data Science Academy Founder Boots Up New Data Scientists’ Careers

NYC Data Science Academy Founder Boots Up New Data Scientists’ Careers March 28, 2017
(Last Updated: March 30, 2017 at 01:10pm PT)

By Mark Terry, Breaking News Staff

Data science is hot. Data science is … what exactly?

About a decade ago, data science was more likely called “data mining.” And if that doesn’t exactly ring a bell (or sound like the next big thing), it essentially is the field of analyzing large amounts of data, or even so-called “big data.”

Increasingly, “big data” is everywhere—in financial markets, marketing data, clinical data, and genomic data. A recent article in eFinancialCareers titled, “You Should’ve Studied Data Science” by Dan Butcher, notes that, “Financial service firms, including hedge funds, proprietary trading shops and even mutual funds, are falling all over themselves to hire talented artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning experts, data scientists, programmers/developers/coders and quantitative traders. There is plenty of competition for such talent. Top candidates are in control.”

Consider this: Eric Schmidt, former chief executive officer of Google, said that every two days, human beings create as much data as all of humanity did prior to 2003.

How does anyone make sense of that deluge of data? That’s the job of data scientists.

Getting Started

So how to get started in this hot field? Typically, people who become data scientists have degrees in statistics, mathematics, computer science, epidemiology, or something similar. In fact, not all universities—yet—have specific programs in data science at all.

One popular approach for people with educational background in the above fields who are interested in focusing more on data science, is to attend a “data science bootcamp,” where they go through an intensive multi-week data science program.

Vivian Zhang is the founder and chief technical officer NYC Data Science Academy, and she took time to talk to BioSpace about the academy, data science and data science bootcamps.

Zhang has a Bachelor’s of Science in Computer Science, and then earned a double Master’s degree in Computer Science and Statistics.

The NYC Data Science Academy is a 12-week bootcamp that Zhang says involves 9-hours a day of training, for five days a week. The coursework includes Linux, Git, Bash, SQL, Data Analytics, Machine Learning, Python, Big Data, and a number of projects.

Also, part of the bootcamp includes four projects that are completed at weeks four, six, eight and 12. Project #1 is called “R Shiny Interactive Applications.” Project #2 is “Python Web Scraping.” Project #3 is “Machine Learning” and Project #4 is “Capstone Project.”

The students, Zhang says, “most often have Masters and PhDs, and are attending as a way of expanding their career viability into Data Science. But we also have people with Bachelor’s degrees.”

She notes that the academy came about after she began attending “meetups” before establishing her own “meetup” networking group. She enjoyed the talks and presentations, but didn’t find them to be constructed in a way that you could apply the technology immediately. There wasn’t training in source code or technical details.

So when she started her own group, the goal was “whatever cool stuff we showed you, we will teach you how to do it.” So hands-on was the focus, including topics like R, Python, Hadoop, location data query and other very practical, usable techniques.

And the demand is there. Global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company has predicted there will be a need for 140,000 to 190,000 data scientists soon, and another 1.5 million with the skills to manage them. ABI Research predicted in 2013 that by 2018—next year!—spending on data science will hit $114 billion.

And the Harvard Business Review, claim that data science is the sexiest job of the 21st century.

The Harvard Business Review article, back in 2012, said, “What abilities make a data scientist successful? Think of him or her as a hybrid of data hacker, analyst, communicator, and trusted adviser. The combination is extremely powerful—and rare.”

Zhang has noted that a bootcamp won’t turn you into a professor or overnight CEO. But the nature of the program, intensive, immersive and collaborative, tied into creating a portfolio of real-world projects “is enough to differentiate students from the rest of the hiring pool looking to jumpstart a new career, possibly bypassing entry-level positions in favor of mid- or upper-level positions.”

Zhang told BioSpace, “People who graduated from our bootcamps have found they increased their employable status by up to $85,000 per year.”

It should be pointed out that NYC Data Science Academy isn’t the only Data Science Bootcamp around. Many others are offered, such as by Thinkful, Microsoft. The Data Incubator and more.

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