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Reflecting on Data Science & Data Analysis Careers for Researchers

Isobel EPowell12 December 2019

Data Science & Data Analysis Month… let’s reflect:

After a busy month of events focused around all things data, we are reflecting on what it takes to excel. This industry is fast expanding with companies heavily investing in their data. The issue here then lies with know what role is suitable for you and where to start when currently (12 Dec 2019) there are over 2000 data scientist roles live on Indeed (indeed.co.uk). It is clear then our reflection this month should focus on what types of organisation could suit you.

Read on for our insights and what we have learnt from our employers this month…

Data Science in Start ups

If you want to get stuck in with some real hands on experience of data looking at start ups could be for you. The roles will require:

  • more commitment to the company and the role
  • longer hours especially around peak funding cycles
  • less role structure so tasks could be adhoc and change daily

but the increased learning and development opportunities could be appealing for you:

  • Working in smaller teams you get more responsibility
  • You could gain a better all around knowledge of data
  • and experience various different parts of data

You will however be required to have more skills going in and be expected to have a better all around knowledge from sourcing, cleaning and presenting data. Job security and longevity is a something to be aware of as work loads tend to cluster around these key funding cycles.

Data Science in Large Organisations

The big four, the banking sector and consultancies are not immune to the data boom. Roles in these organisations are:

  • highly sort after in the graduate market
  • come with a more competitive and rigorous recruitment process
  • open doors and offer global opportunities

Working life may be secure and hours more regular however this sector is notorious for:

  • increase pressure from client projects with higher workloads
  • more corporate structure
  • Projects set by management or clients so less autonomy

Often working within a team of engineers, analysts and other data scientists who are specialised in various areas means your role will be more specific maybe focusing on data preparation, visualisation, machine learning, analytics or pattern recognition. These roles are high paid but also high workloads so investigate first and gain some practical advice first.

Data Science in the Public Sector

Whilst still a large, national organisation, the healthcare, government and education sectors have working styles, they are often:

  • restrictions by laws and high scrutinised
  • have lower budgets and must show real value for doing anything

Despite this, a role in the public sector could afford you:

  • Increased intellectual freedom and better understanding of your research background
  • being treated more like a researcher, investigating trends and potential to publish
  • More flexibility with better working structures and regulations

If you’re looking to make change to the way our public services are run and improve communities through research, a public sector role in data could be for you, creating and presenting information from data which shows critical issues and opportunities for development.

So, what does this all mean for you?

The top tips we gained from our panellists and employers focused on ensuring in applications that as a researcher you prove, what your data expertise area, what is your area of interest and how can you benefit an organisation.

Key advice to get you started:

Use the software – Practice it! If you’ve got an industry in mind, research what tools are most used and up skill yourself on these. Whether that be Java, Python, C++ or Matlab.

Show what you can do – Share it! There are tones of great website where you can upload data examples to prove your skills. Why not start a blog showing your research process or create a profile on an online community – examples included Kaggle, CodeWars, WordPress or Stack Overflow.

Get some real experience – Prove it! Reach out to companies and see what opportunities there are for you to support them, maybe as an internship, a project or a part-time job. If you’ve got the skills and time to support your career development then gaining corporate experience could improve your chances.

Grow your network – Pitch it! Found a perfect organisation? Or an alumni whose transition out of academia is inspiring? why not see if they have time to share some tips. This could be a great opportunity hear about unpublished opportunities and gain insights.


Finding an industry where your skills as research are valued and utilised may seem tricky but you can find roles across all sectors and industry. This is where our themed months come in to play, if you’ve decided health organisations are not for you, join us on another themed month and hear more about careers in Data Science & Data Analytics, Communications and Research, Government, Policy and Higher Education…. the list continues!

Come along to our events and find out how your skills are so transferable across the sectors and explore how you could branch out to support an organisation to develop!

Check out our full programme of researcher events on our website today!

Can Social Media Get You a Job?

SophiaDonaldson9 May 2016

selfie picImage taken from Justien Van Zele

Have you seen that new Scapchat filter that makes the bottom of your face really thin so you have a huge forehead and a teeny tiny pin mouth? Yeah, well that particular bit of social media probably isn’t going to help you get a job. But believe it or not the ol’ internet can be quite useful.

Jobvite’s most recent Recruiter Nation survey shows that 92% of US employers use social media to support recruitment. This number is much lower, at only about 40%, in the UK. But that’s still a significant chunk of employers, and with a third of those surveyed planning to up their spend on social media recruitment, we reckon it’s worth a blog post.

So here are a few things to keep in mind for maximising the career-potential of social media:

Social media is an information goldmine

You know how you can ‘like’ Justin Bieber on Facebook and ‘follow’ Kanye West’s latest rants on Twitter? Well you can do the same for lots of employers too. And it doesn’t really matter which industry you’re into either. Organisations have twitter accounts, Facebook pages and LinkedIn profiles to connect with clients and future employees, and larger organisations will often have accounts dedicated to just their graduate schemes.

You’ll find vacancy, event and deadline details through these channels, and they’ll also help you increase your ‘commercial awareness’, that elusive competency so many employers call for – which basically means that you understand how their company and the wider sector work. Joining relevant groups on LinkedIn or Facebook is another brilliant way to keep up to date with industry news.

And it doesn’t stop there. You could actually contact people and ask some questions. Weird, right? But on LinkedIn it’s totally normal. Not just normal, it’s kind of the whole point, networking and such. There’s no better way to find out what it’s like to work in a certain role or organisation than by asking the people doing just that. It’ll help you determine which roles are right for you, and show motivation and initiative. There are even researcher-specific social networks you can join, such as ResearchGate, Academia.edu and Piirus, which make it easier to initiate collaborations and keep abreast of the latest research in your field.

Importantly, although LinkedIn is great for making new contacts and may seem like the most ‘professional’ network (and it certainly appears to be in the US), 75% of UK recruiters report Facebook as their most popular channel for selecting candidates, with LinkedIn coming in third place after Twitter. So try not to view these platforms as simply ‘social’ social networks. For example, at UCL Careers we’re totally hip and down-with-the-kids and whatnot. We have a Facebook page and a general careers, researcher careers, graduate, and TalentBank twitter account. Follow us for details of our events programmes and to hear about job opportunities.

Careers Facebook

 

You can build yourself an ‘online brand’

Just as you may use social media to build your awareness of employers, employers may do the same right back at you. Use this to your advantage. On the most direct end of the scale, we know some recruiters use LinkedIn to proactively contact people with desired skillsets. Make sure they don’t miss you by having an up-to-date LinkedIn profile which clearly states any solid desirable skills you possess, such as specific programming and spoken languages.

But building an online brand can be a more nuanced process. 93% of US employers will check a candidate’s social media presence before bringing them in to interview. Although Jobvite’s UK employer survey didn’t address this exact question, wouldn’t you google someone you were about to interview? I sure would. The UK survey did tell us that 61% of recruiters would be more likely to re-think a hiring decision based on seeing positive content on a candidate’s social media.

Jobvite pic

 

Image taken from The Jobvite UK Social Recrutiment Survey 2015

So give yourself a google. What do you find? Is it easy to locate your social media profiles? And do they speak to your target employers? Hopefully you’ve joined relevant interest groups and followed key accounts (see section above), but why not comment on posts or post something interesting yourself? Producing relevant content for blogs or student newspapers, or even making your own website to showcase your work (especially if you’re a creative) can also be a great way of improving the employability of your Google results. Here are a few nice examples of researchers going the extra mile and creating websites: Dr Nadine Muller, Professor Andy Miah, STEMwomen. Dr Muller’s is doubly useful as she often writes about academic careers.

 

An online brand isn’t always a good thing!

Nothing in this kooky mixed-up world of ours is perfect. And the internet is no different. The wrong kind of online brand can be a difficult thing to live down. Social media has had disastrous employment consequences for some. To name but a few examples, Justine Sacco and Paris Brown lost their jobs, and Psychology academic Professor Geoffrey Miller put his at risk, because they posted misjudged tweets.

These stories of social media woe hit the headlines, but there are subtler ways your online brand could be received badly. Remember how that employer you’ve contacted is probably going to google you? And how great it will be if they find a really positive professional online presence? Well Jobvite’s survey tells us it works both ways. 65% of UK employers will judge you negatively if your online profiles contain references to marijuana use, 55% if you mess up your spelling and grammar, and 46% if they see snaps of you drinking alcohol. US employers are even more judgemental, with those figures at 75%, 72% and 54% respectively!

To make matters worse, a third of UK employers hate the humble selfie, that staple of social media! So what can you do? Short of completely taking all of the ‘social’ out of social media, you can get to know your privacy settings. Just because you have selfies and pictures at parties on your Facebook profile doesn’t mean they have to be publicly viewable. Another option would be to consider using a pseudonym for your more ‘fun’ profiles to prevent them coming up in your Google results.

I hope that hasn’t put you off the internet altogether! If you need more help look out for social media workshops in our events schedule, or have a careers consultant look over your LinkedIn profile in a one-to-one appointment.

 

6 networking tips that work for me

SophiaDonaldson6 November 2015

network 2 Image from Andy Lamb

Networking is important. It just is. But it can also be painful.

The below networking tips have helped me, so hopefully they’ll also help people who are a bit like me. But are you like me? Do you feel social awkwardness acutely and do everything in your power to avoid it? Do you enjoy spending time with humans, but also hate meeting new ones? Do you cringe at the thought of entering a room packed with strangers, with the aim of ‘selling yourself’? If you answer ‘yes’ to any of the above, these tips could ease your pain:

1) Have a purpose

Have a reason for being somewhere that isn’t simply ‘networking’. There’s nothing I find more excruciatingly awkward than milling about with a glass of wine surrounded by people I don’t know. I just end up leaving early. But if I’m actually doing something, then I find it much easier to talk to strangers, get to know people, and pick up useful contacts.

You could see this as a ‘planned happenstance’ approach to networking – put yourself out there, get involved with things, and the networking is likely to just happen without you really noticing. For me, this has meant signing up for a course where I’d meet people in a certain sector, or volunteering at relevant events. Sometimes these events have included one of those dreaded ‘networking sessions’, which always feel far less awkward if I’ve been part of the team organising them.

2) Latch on to a good networker

Like it or not, it’s not always possible to ‘have a purpose’. Sometimes attending actual networking events is part of life. And it can yield results. I find networking events more productive and less terrible if I attend with a natural-born networker. The intense schmoozing might make you feel uncomfortable at times, but the good networker will ensure they (and, because you are together, also you) talk to lots of key people, and their social skills should make the whole affair less awkward for everyone.

3) Don’t bring the whole gang

While attending a networking session or signing up for a course with one other person (hopefully a fantastic networker – see tip 2) can give you the confidence to talk to new people, bringing a big group along is likely to be counterproductive. Enjoying complimentary drinks with friends at conferences or networking sessions is fabulous in its own way, but you probably won’t get much networking done!

4) Be curious

Networking events can inflict a pressure to be interesting. But it’s better (and easier) to concentrate on being interested. Sure, you should try to swot up on relevant topics and issues to do with your particular sector/company of interest, and it’s sensible to have a short elevator pitch about yourself prepared. But in reality, most people quite like to talk about themselves, and they like people who let them do it. So if you ask lots of questions and seem genuinely engaged you’re likely to build rapport, and in turn networks.

5) Don’t expect too much

Network 3Image from Sean MacEntee

…or at least not too much too soon. Networking is great for your career. But if you go into each networking event expecting a promotion, you’ll be often disappointed. And if you harass everyone you meet for a job, you’ll be often avoided.

Asking questions people can easily answer (a la tip 4) is a good start. If you come away from an event having learned about someone’s career path or what it’s like to work in a particular company, then you’ve acquired valuable knowledge for your career thinking and applications. And remember networking can be a long game. Although it might not be immediately obvious how someone can help you (or how you might help them!), building your networks is likely to pay off in the end.

6) Follow up

When you meet someone at an event try to follow the link up within a week. I have a friend who likes to send a small gift to new contacts. Although it works wonderfully well for her (it’s how she and I became friends), most people can’t pull it off without seeming creepy, so a brief email or LinkedIn request should suffice. It can be nice to remind them of the conversation you had, and perhaps even send them a link to something they might find interesting. This keeps the contact warm, increasing the chances they’ll remember and think well of you, and decreasing the chances you’ll feel awkward when you contact them in the future.

Originally published on The Careers Group’s Get Hired blog.

Employer Led Career Skills Workshop Programme for Researchers – Open For Booking!

Vivienne CWatson12 September 2014

These workshops, arranged by UCL Careers in collaboration with the Doctoral Skills Development Programme, will introduce you to the employability skills that are required in today’s workplace and provide opportunities for you to develop and practice these skills. They will also demonstrate the transferable nature of the research skills you have acquired during your PhD, from an employer’s perspective. You can find out more information about the range of workshops available here.

Upcoming workshops

Networking Skills with Citi – Tuesday 30th September – 5:30pm to 7:30pm

Venue: UCL Careers Seminar Room, 4th Floor, ULU Building, Malet Street, WC1E 7HY

The ability to network productively is a key skill in academic and industry settings. This session will help you to understand what effective networking involves and will enable you to identify and make the most of networking situations. You will have the opportunity to practice some techniques within the workshop.

Learning Outcomes

• Recognise the importance of networking when looking for work and in the workplace
• Understand what networking involves and demonstrate your networking skills
• Develop some techniques for connecting with new people
• Develop some techniques for leveraging existing contacts

Research Students book a place here

Research Staff book a here

 

Commercial Awareness with PwC – Thursday 2nd October – 2:00pm to 4:00pm

Venue: UCL Conference Suite, Seminar Room 2, 188 Tottenham Court Road, W1T 7PH

Commercial awareness is about having a complete understanding of the career sector, company and job that you are applying for. It is the ability to view events and circumstances from a business perspective. This session is designed to help students understand the importance of commercial awareness when making the transition from their studies to the workplace. The session will focus on the methods through which students can build their commercial awareness in the run up to job applications, and the benefits to be gained from this.

Learning Outcomes

• Recognise why and how graduate employers look for commercial awareness in their recruitment processes
• Develop techniques for increasing commercial awareness in order to apply for jobs and attend interviews
• Communicate your commercial awareness more effectively to graduate recruiters
• Gain the tools to evaluate your level of commercial awareness when applying for your next role

Research Students book a place here

Research Staff book a here