On the hunt for a remote data science job? We spoke with Springboard’s Head of Career Services Patty Kwok for her expert knowledge on the best ways to find a remote data science job today. From networking to portfolio-building, Patty shares her best practices that will make you stand out as a remote data science job applicant and also be a valuable contributor to the data science professional community. Plus, learn how Springboard gives their data science students an edge when applying to remote data science job opportunities!
What do you do as the Head of Career Services at Springboard?
I oversee our team of career coaches who work one-on-one with students. I don't work personally with students, but instead gather feedback from our Coaches to make sure the Springboard career services aligns with what our students will need to prepare them for the job search after graduation.
What kinds of career services do Springboard’s data science students get?
At Springboard, we take career services very seriously. We’ve even integrated career services into the Springboard curriculum. From the beginning, students have career services to help them refine their job search strategy, build upon it, and come up with a plan to implement. Topics covered in our career services curriculum include networking, finding the right companies, finding the right jobs, resume and portfolio prep, and interview prep. We scaffold it so that students can build a network as they are learning the technical content. As a student finishes each job search topic and reaches the end of the unit, they are prompted to schedule calls with the Springboard's career coach to revisit their job strategy and make adjustments. At the very end of the course, students will be prepared to hit the ground running with their job search.
We realize that career services can’t just end at graduation, so we have career coaches working with our graduates throughout the job search journey until they land a job. We hold our graduates to a new set of expectations, such as requiring them to continue applying to jobs and growing their network.
What types of data science jobs can Springboard graduates get after graduating?
Data Scientist, Associate Data Scientist, Junior Data Scientist, and Data Analyst are the most common job titles we see Springboard data science graduates getting. Machine Learning Engineer is also possible if they have a Software Engineering background coming into the course.
What’s more important – applying to jobs or networking?
The job search is not about just applying to a lot of jobs. Building a network will help you understand your new space as a career-transitioner. Students who are looking for remote data science roles especially need to network online in order to create a presence for themselves. As you begin to build your network, jobs might not be immediately available to you, but in the future, you may be able to leverage the connections within your network for new job opportunities. Also, when you’re immersing yourself in a new field, it's necessary to seek information, not just from your bootcamp curriculum, but also from within the professional community.
Students should begin building their network as soon as they sign up for a Springboard bootcamp to pursue their career goals. To start building your network, your LinkedIn profile needs to be up-to-date because it is a good presentation of who you are. You may not have projects to demonstrate yet, but you can update your profile so it reflects a good professional presence and includes your story. You should have a summary statement highlighting skills and strengths. Remember that you have command in telling that narrative of your career journey. Explain who you are, what you did, and where you are going next. Then get out there and start connecting with data scientists! Learn what they are doing, how they made their transition, and any advice they may have. And don’t forget to make an effort to follow up with anyone you have contacted!
What are your favorite Data Science networking sites?
I recommend joining and engaging in professional groups on LinkedIn, Kaggle, and GitHub online communities. Kaggle is a focused data science community. On Kaggle, there are a lot of data science projects you can do there to practice and demonstrate your skills.
What can a job seeker expect from the remote data science interview process?
While both in-person and remote interviews test for the same skills, you should be comfortable with the tech tools needed for a remote interview. Because the Springboard Data Science bootcamp is online, our mock interviews are done virtually, which familiarizes our students to this environment. Especially now with the COVID-19 lockdown in place, companies will be conducting interviews remotely. Springboard students are well-equipped and logistically prepared for this.
On the remote data science interview, students can expect timed coding challenges and take home challenges are common. Students can expect to see a problem-solving interview where you are given a problem and asked how you would solve it. This type of interview tests your understanding of data science concepts. You should also be prepared to walk an interviewer through a project you have worked on. For an idea of questions to expect during a data science interview, check out Springboard’s list of 109 Data Science Interview Questions and Answers. Our team reached out to Data Scientists for common questions and their suggested responses.
How can bootcamp grads assess if a company is the right fit for them?
Look to see what the company is doing and ask yourself, “Does this product excite me?” If it does, you will have the motivation to do something to help the company grow. Look at your previous work experience and consider if there are transferable skills that can be leveraged to make yourself a competitive candidate. Keep in mind that when someone is career-switching, it's hard to make a switch in role and industry. To make your career change easier, I recommend remaining in the same industry because you already have domain expertise and familiarity with it.
How much time should someone dedicate to a job search?
Our recommendation is to apply to a minimum of four jobs a week, but honestly apply for ten jobs if you are in a more competitive market. Consistency is super important. You need to keep up the momentum and not take a break. Be sure the jobs you applied to are the right fit for you. Not doing so can contribute to unnecessary rejections and lead to burnout. Be strategic about how you spend your time and where you target those job applications.
Overall, for someone who is career-switching, a job search can take four to six months in a stable market. Considering that things are on pause for many companies right now, I would expect a longer duration. Of course, there are a lot of variables that go into figuring out how long a job search should take. A student who has been networking throughout the Springboard online course may accelerate their timeline to land a job. But for someone who is just starting to build their network while looking for a job, the job search can take longer.
What should a data science portfolio include to attract employers and recruiters?
A data science portfolio should include all of your completed data science projects with in-depth details, so it demonstrates the project’s impact. Whenever you mention achievements within your resume or on LinkedIn, always include the results. And don’t let your GitHub become stale! Displaying recent projects demonstrates passion. Take those projects back to the communities in your network and ask for feedback. This gives you a great opportunity to initiate conversations with other people in your industry.
Is this the right time to do a data science bootcamp and make a career change to tech?
Yes, it is. What comes down must come up, and jobs will eventually resurface. The COVID-19 crisis is creating a new set of needs and demands, but no matter what, there will certainly be more jobs in tech. Especially within the healthcare field, tech has plenty of potential to help improve the world to be better prepared for a future pandemic or to prevent the situation we are currently in. I know there is concern that the market is too unstable right now, making people unsure about how to invest in their future. The Springboard bootcamps are six to nine months, and with our career services, this gives students plenty of time to make a career change with no regrets.