Discussion on: What Are Your Career Goals?

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Walker Harrison

When I grow up, I'd like to be a data scientist. I find it helpful to frame my ambitions within the ole saying about data scientists: "someone who is better at statistics than any software engineer and better at software engineering than any statistician."

I'm going back to grad school for the statistics half of that statement, so I'm mostly set on that front, but I'll have to be more self-reliant in my off-time to achieve the engineering aspect. That likely means MOOCs, personal projects, and a whole lot of Stack Overflow.

It's helped so far to stay focused on one thing at a time and not get too distracted by the big picture. Learning to code is intimidating enough by itself, but there's the added pressure to do everything extremely fast that comes from all those instant success stories that you hear so much about, at least from an outsider's perspective. Taking a minute to breath and focus on one book, one class, one idea at a time has been key to actually getting anything done.

As an example, I recently tried to do three things at once: read Eloquent Javascript, take an Intro to Databases online course, and start putting together an experimental website (going so far as to buy the domain name). But then I'd get home and worry so much about what to do that I'd do nothing at all, or do a little bit of all three and make no real progress. So I've put two of the things on hold for now. 😛

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John Van Wagenen Author

Great thoughts. Great lesson on limiting WIP. Keep it up! Good luck with your goals!