Data Scientist Ranked Top Job in the Nation
Patrick Lewis recently completed his master's degree in data science at Columbia University and already has a top job lined up. He’ll be working as a data scientist on the analytics team at Facebook. It’s a great job – Lewis couldn’t be happier – and he credits the rigor of the master’s program at the Data Science Institute (DSI) coupled with the strong demand for the skill set as placing him in good stead on the job market.
“The DSI program and the rapid growth of data science helped me get a couple of great job offers, as well as interest and interviews from a range of companies," Lewis said. "The skills I learned in the master’s program were essential in getting through the interview process for each company. Without those skills, I would not have had the competitive edge to secure a data scientist job at a top tech company.”
As Lewis’s experience shows, data scientists, especially those from top programs like DSI, are in high demand. Glassdoor, the jobs website, has ranked data scientist the best job in America for four years in a row – a ranking based on median base salary, job satisfaction, and number of job openings in the field. The LinkedIn Emerging Jobs Report which identifies the fastest-growing jobs in 17 countries, ranked data scientist as the top job in 16 of the 17 countries covered in the report. And in a recent article in IEEE Spectrum, a dean of engineering at a major university said, “All we’re hearing is data, data, data. It’s kind of incredible. Every company in every sector is essentially telling us, ‘We’re not an energy company, we’re a data company now.’ ‘We’re no longer logistics, we’re not an automaker—we’re a data firm.’”
John Hyde, DSI's assistant director of career development and alumni services, says the market remains strong for data scientists “across the country and around the globe,” and the rigor of the master’s program makes its graduates especially desirable to employers.
“The skill set that major employers are looking for can be found in abundance at DSI,” adds Hyde. “Recent graduates from the fall 2019 master’s class have landed jobs in New York City, Toronto, San Francisco, Seattle, Austin as well as in China, and Singapore.”
The career development office at DSI runs two career fairs a year – one in fall and another in spring ‒ the latter of which is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 7, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., in Columbia’s Faculty House. Many recruiters at the fairs are DSI alumni, who return to campus to hire Columbia students for both internships and full-time jobs.
“We have been fortunate to have deep-rooted connections with alumni who keep recruiting on behalf of their companies with us,” Hyde adds. “They know the rigor of the program firsthand and therefore are eager to recruit at DSI.”
Case in point is Lewis, who was referred to Facebook by a fellow DSI alum. Through that referral, Lewis got an initial interview at Facebook. He made it through three more interviews, after which the company flew him to its Menlo Park campus for in-person interviews. He was later offered his job as a data scientist on the analytics team.
“Ultimately, getting to know the people in DSI who are both in your year as well as a year ahead of you is a great resource and was essential to my getting the Facebook job,” he says.
He also credits a data-intensive capstone project he worked on while a student in helping him get the job. Working with a team of his classmates, he developed a series of models to predict health outcomes of patients who had major surgical procedures.
“The project was a great opportunity to think about data science problems in an outside-of-the-box way,” Lewis says. “This opportunity to explore the creative aspect of data science was integral to my securing my job after graduation.”
Pranjal Bajaj is another example of a recent graduate who benefited from the strong market for data scientists and the clout of a Columbia DSI degree. Soon after graduating with a master’s in May 2019, Bajaj was hired to work as a data scientist at Boston Consulting Group (BCG) GAMMA, the company’s data science and AI consulting team. It’s his “dream job” in that he gets to work on projects “with a multitude of clients by leveraging machine learning and advanced analytics to create positive impact.”
And he, too, drew interest from a host of companies while he was interviewing for jobs.
“I do think the strong market helped me in securing my job,” Bajaj says. “BCG offered me a job while I was still in the process of speaking to many other companies. It was the first job offer I got and I took it given that it was exactly what I was looking for. I drew interest from Facebook, Uber, Amazon, AQR, and Conde Nast.”
Bajaj’s marketability was also enhanced by the rapid growth of data science, he says, as every major industry now employs teams of data scientists. But perhaps most importantly, in his mind, having a degree in data science from Columbia “provided a strong signaling effect to employers.”
“The fact that many Columbia-bred data scientists are doing well at some of the top employers in the world,” he says, “causes them to come back to campus and hire more DSI graduates.”
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