How I got a job as a Data Scientist during the pandemic
I took the risk of leaving my well-paid software engineering job in R&D
In 2020, I transitioned into Data Science in the Bioinformatics field. I also left a more secure job in the same industry as a Full Stack Engineer during the pandemic. People thought that it was a crazy thing to do, but I had a solid plan and I plowed through it.
Here is how I designed the transition:
It was not something I did in a matter of months, but it was more of a plan that took years to perfect.
After my master’s thesis based on big-data (genetics and bioinformatics)in 2017, I trained myself on cloud technologies starting with AWS since the two go hand in hand with all of the new technological integrations.
I took up a job as a full-stack engineer with a computing department in a major public university developing pipeline code for analyzing big-data (genomic) for client institutes and laboratories. Now the thing about this post is I had not applied to it nor did I know about it. I was actually interviewing for a different position at the time with the same department shared with me by a recruiter. During the interview, based on the scope of my work, they offered me the post. Not only did they have a great deal of trouble finding someone to fill that role; they were prepared to offer a lot for the task.
I learned that exhibiting your range and depth in a particular subject matter (like finance or mathematics or genetics) in a coding interview during an interview with a bank or financial institution or a research institute pays off big time. I also only focussed on domain-specific industries and not just tech companies, because you might always come across someone who is better than you at coding or is faster and has more experience writing test cases, but you will not usually come across someone with a huge deal of subject matter knowledge as well in a core scientific filed. that's one way of standing out in an overcrowded job-market, with multiple people claiming they have all the “tech-skills” the job has asked for, sometimes for even more years than that specific tech-stack has been around…
so, it's best to leverage your non-comp science background, with say literature or linguistics, social science, chemistry, finance, economics or population genetics, or neuroscience. Wherever data and al]nalytics can be applied, you can have a skill-set that can completely stand apart.
these jobs might not be extensive or well-advertised. Helps if you do some research and stick more to fields that are growing or something that is well-funded, is of national cultural importance yet somewhat obscure.
So, after I created the pipeline, My contract was extended for a few years and I was offered a full-time role. I ended up not taking up the full-time role because I did not yet want to constrict myself to that field or the area. I learned and absorbed as much as I could on the job, including cybersecurity, GCP, Kubernetes, etc, knowing that I might not be using everything subsequently but it still increases my scope of finding a new job should the opportunity arise.
Your brand (can just be your LinkedIn profile and an up-to-date resume to hand out to anyone or available somewhere online). During the latter half of the year, I was approached by a recruiter on LinkedIn asking if I was interested in a Data Science role for a prominent client.
Every past experience in college, blogging, mentoring, etc has led to this position at this time of my life. For someone with about 5 years of total technological experience, I have had to heavily rely on every experience I could count on
Also, apply for a job when you have an upper hand. For me, it was not actually requiring that specific job but if I had it anyway, it would be awesome.
These were the broad steps I employed to land a role as a Data Scientist at a premier agtech+ pharma company.
If you are interested in the genomics and bioinformatics field, follow along for the upcoming posts on processing and analyzing high throughput sequencer data.
Would you like to learn more about the steps I took? Please let me know and I will add subsequent posts.