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Why I'm Learning Data Science

So I've started learning my journey into learning data science and machine learning... and the way I've chosen to start down this path is by attending a 15 week bootcamp at the Flatiron school. While I'm not much of a writer (brevity above all!), one component of the course is to express the learning process through a sequence of blogs. And here's my attempt.

Why data science?

My background is in math, and I spent a great deal of time (up to a doctorate) studying it. When people ask me what it means to have a Ph.D, I like to joke that it means that I went to school for too long. But really, once I started studying it, the math bug bite me... it couldn't stop. Studying math can be bittersweet, you struggle for long periods wrapping your head around things followed by a brief "aha!" moment... until you sink back into confusion. But I loved the challenge it presented and I dug into it as deeply as I could... until the day came that I needed to graduate and go out into the world. Then I quickly realized that finding a job in math was going to very difficult. This might sound the exact opposite to everything anyone has ever said about math and getting a technical job, but you'd have to understand, I studied pure math... As pure as I could find. The closest I got to any kind of application was how one theory could be used in another.

So my job search began until I finally found a job... doing something I knew nothing about. When I started, I pursued it, worked at it, and tried to master as much of it as I could. While it was still technical in nature, the further I got into my new career, the more distant my math felt and the less passionate I felt for what I now found myself doing. I sank into a daily cycle of working... and found myself missing my passion. Honestly, this was tough for me to process, but I soldiered through it trying to be as pragmatic as possible. And I discovered a silver lining, as a part of my job, I got to deal with massive amounts of data which I would have to examine, process, clean, and manipulate in order to produce desired results.

The more I worked with the data, the more I enjoyed it. It revived an old interest I had in coding and allowed me to use my math background. So I started pursuing this growing interest with the same excitement that I had for my studies in school. I started learning python, c++, and even gained experience in parallel coding and computing (which seemed like black magic to me) all as means to more efficiently work with the data that I had. And for several years, this was enough... but all the while, I wondered if I couldn't be doing this more. Finally hit a cap of sorts within my job, and I decided to make the plunge completely into a field that I could fully pursue my new passion... working with data. One of Flatiron's mantras sums it up best for me, "Always do what you love."

Ok... but why a bootcamp?

During all of my self-study into data science, one thought continually nagged me... How can I find a way to do this full time? Demonstrating to potential employers, that I have the necessary skills isn't always easy... especially without any credentials or documented background. Additionally, how can I most efficiently fill in knowledge gaps and build my experience into a fully-fledged set of skills? I had heard of various data science bootcamps and decided to look into them. This is how I found the Flatiron school; a 15 week program that mixes lectures with real-world problems to build and cement all the skills I need to make this leap into a new career. As necessary as it was, leaving a field that you've established yourself in and starting fresh isn't easy. Having the support and guidance of a program like this helps ease the anxiety and let's me focus on studying, learning, and preparing for the future.

So here I am, I've begun the program and am wrapping up the first week. The pace is blistering...

Speed of average lecture

But I'm excited to continue learning and absorbing as much as I can, and I hope that it pays off in a job in which I can do what I love.

Top comments (1)

davidmm1707 profile image
David MMπŸ‘¨πŸ»β€πŸ’»

Sounds interesting. One of my 2020 goals is to start learning ML/IA too.