My Journey to Data Science – Part 3 of 3

My Career Journey Over the Last 20+ Years

October 28, 2016

 

Jamey Johnston (@STATCowboy)

 

This is Part 3 (the final post!) of a 3-part Blog series on my Career Journey the Last 20+ years into my current role as a Data Scientist. Part 1 can be found here and Part 2 can be found here!

BI

 

BI is fun! I loved it and soon was not missing the late-night pages of down databases or late nights doing database upgrades. (Although, one night I upgraded 11 Oracle production databases to Oracle 11g at the same time which I must admit was fun!) I loved the insights I gained from building BI solutions using MS products like SSAS, SSRS, MSSQL and SharePoint. I also loved the new-found freedom of exploring data and making it all work together in tools like Spotfire and Power BI! I was building large analytic datasets with billions of rows and special analytic calculations. I was having fun but I was missing something to truly fill the gap as a data scientist, statistics!

 

TAMU MS of Analytics

 

I was driving late one night into the office on I-45 in Houston which was not my normal route and I see this billboard for Texas A&M Masters of Science in Analytics! I had been looking for a program to learn statistics but I wanted it local (my ADHD doesn’t do well with online classes!). This was March of 2014. I was accepted into the program in June 2014 and started classes the end of August 2014! To say the least, the next two years my life was crazy! I had started to learn R the last year or so and in the program, I learned about SAS and SAS JMP and a ton of statistics from regression, time series, spatial statistics, multivariate analysis to machine learning! I was having a blast learning statistics and all my friends and family thought I was plum mad to start grad school in my 40s and in all things, Statistics!

I can’t emphasize the importance of a good education in statistics and how valuable the MS in Analytics from TAMU was in that education. I graduated in May 2016 with my Masters and could not be happier with my experience at TAMU. I am proud to be a member of the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Class of 2016! Yes, I wore Mickey Ears with my Twitter handle (@STATCowboy) on the back at graduation!

 


 

Data Scientist

 

Armed with my learning of R, SAS and more importantly, Statistics, I am fully ready for whatever data is thrown at me. I get to build some really cool statistical and machine learning models these days and I can’t believe at 42 years of age I have a new career I basically started at 40! I guess if you are going to have a midlife crisis a career change to The Sexiest Job of the 21st Century according to the Harvard Business Review is a good crisis! Who knows what career I will have at 50?!

I’ll finish with my definition of a Data Scientist – someone who loves finding insight from data, big or small! In some ways, we are all data scientist and I would encourage anyone who would like to take their data knowledge to the next level to learn Statistics. Statistics is the first leg of a three-legged stool that makes up data science. The second leg is a data guru! Someone who can store, move and manage data and present it in an easy to use fashion that can be consumed quickly. The final and third leg of the stool is a Subject Matter Expert (SME) who knows the business and the data around the business. One person is never an expert in all of these but a Data Scientist is typically an expert in one and very proficient in the others. However, I find the best Data Scientist is really a team of folks that love data and bring expertise in one of the three areas – statistics, data or subject matter expert – to the table to build models to make business better!

To get you started in your career as a Data Scientist check out my presentation from SQL Summit 2016 here. Be sure to check out the resources section of the PPT to see some good locations to learn things like R! Also, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter if you have questions along your journey. I am happy to help!

I hope you enjoyed reading about my journey. I know have enjoyed living it!

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