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Interview: Alessandro Gagliardi, Glassdoor on the Fun and Boring Part of Data Scientist Job


We discuss interesting trends, motivation, different aspects of data scientist job, advice, and more.



AR: Q10. What is the best advice you have got in your career?

just-do-itAG: To quote Nike, "just do it." I hate pithy quotes like that, but in my case, it has been really good advice. It has come up for me a number of times, starting with making the transition back to industry in the first place. I was afraid that having been out of industry for so many years that I wasn't qualified, but it turns out I had a lot to offer despite my unusual background.

It came up again when I needed to make a change to the code base in order to get the data I needed for my job. I was afraid to meddle in the code base when I was not a programmer. But I was encouraged to submit a proposed change. The change was rejected with instructions on how to make it acceptable. I made those changes and submitted again. In time, I became a better programmer as well as a better data scientist, and that was only because I was willing to step outside of the box of what I thought it meant to be a data scientist.

amazon-redshiftMore recently, there was discussion about whether or not to use Redshift at my work. The great thing about AWS is that you can try things like Redshift with very little commitment. So I spent a few weeks doing it, proving it could be done, proving how effective it could be, and in time, we came to adopt it widely. I think data scientists have more freedom to experiment than a lot of other roles in a tech company and they must take advantage of that freedom if they want to advance their career.

AR: Q11. What key qualities do you look for when interviewing for Data Science related positions on your team?

AG: Whenever I interview a data science candidate, I ask them about a project data-science-interviewthat they've done that they are proud of. I ask them a lot of questions about it. I expect them to be able to explain it to me lucidly. Only then do I trust that they understand it themselves. I also expect them to have thought through all the angles and implications of their work.

Of course, I also make sure that they know everything they claim to know and that they would be a good cultural fit, but that goes without saying.

AR: Q12. On a personal note, what book did you read recently and would like to recommend? blindsight

AG: It wasn't that recent, but whenever I'm asked for a book recommendation, I often bring up Blindsight by Peter Watts. It's a novel I used to recommend to my neuroscience students. It really wonderfully explores the implications of neuroscience and consciousness in an interesting and disturbing way. I frankly consider it to be the best science fiction written since Dune (which you should also read, if you haven't.)

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