How I Got My First Job as a Data Scientist

Things I believe contributed to my success.

Photo by Pixabay


I walked away from a 20-year high school math teaching career at age 40 to become a data scientist. I am passionate about helping other professionals, especially those with non-technical backgrounds, switch careers to data science or other data analytics professions.


My Journey


After hundreds of applications and rejection emails, I finally landed an interview with my current boss, Eric. During the interview, he asked me if I knew anything about BERT, a robust natural language processing algorithm developed by Google. Unfortunately, I had to tell him “No.”

I was disappointed but excited. This interview was the turning point in my job search. The field of data science is broad, and I was applying to various roles with little focus. But after my interview with Eric, I decided to focus on sequence models and natural language processing. I needed to learn about BERT.

Over the next two weeks, I completed the Udemy course Learn BERT-most powerful NLP algorithm by Google, and two guided projects from CourseraFine Tune BERT for Text Classification with TensorFlow and Sentiment Analysis with Deep Learning using BERT. I was so excited about what I had learned that I sent Eric an email to tell him how much he had motivated me. I told him about the projects I completed, and he was impressed. As a result, he scheduled a second interview with another team member.

During the second interview, I talked about my projects and my newfound knowledge of BERT. I was offered the job!


Key Takeaways


There are a few key things that I believe contributed to my success:

  • First, refrain from allowing rejection emails to discourage you. You only need one “yes!” Keep applying, and don’t give up.
  • During your job search, keep learning. I didn’t let my initial lack of knowledge about BERT hold me back. Instead, I took the initiative to learn about it and demonstrate my enthusiasm for the field.
  • Complete some guided projects from Coursera and apply the knowledge you gain to your projects. Projects are a great way to showcase your skills and show potential employers what you can do.




In conclusion, my experience showed me that persistence and a willingness to learn could go a long way in the job search. So keep going, and keep improving your skills. You never know where it might lead.

If you’re on your journey to becoming a data scientist or pursuing a career in data analytics, I hope my story will inspire you.


Keep pushing forward and never give up on your dreams!

Tiffany Teasley aka Data Sistah, is a data scientist and career coach for aspiring data scientists. Tiffany provides coaching and mentoring for those pursuing a career in data science or any data analytics profession. In addition, she specializes in coaching individuals with non-technical backgrounds by sharing her knowledge, network, and expertise in the data science space.

Original. Reposted with permission.