We immediately got in touch with Ms. Thomas to let her know we were proud of her and asked her if she could tell us more about her interview experience and share any advice for other aspiring Data Scientists . Below are snippets of the interview. But first off here is a short introduction to Ms. J. Thomas.
J’s background is in IT. She has a BSc in mathematics with a subsidiary in Statistics and an MCA from Bharatiyar University, Coimbatore. J’s thirst for knowledge is commendable. She is a firm believer of continuously upskilling yourself as per the demands of the industry. Thanks Justy for taking the time to share your experiences with us. You are definitely an inspiration to other aspiring data scientists.
Tell us about what got you interested in Data
Life took me to Canada after my marriage and there I realized I had to start my career from scratch. I did some Microsoft certifications and got a job as a data/system administrator in a NGO. I knew that if I wanted to get ahead with my life goals I would have to pick up some more skills.
After some research, I knew that a career in data would best suit me. Here was an opportunity for me to combine my previous experience, as well as a chance to learn something new. I began to take SAS classes at the Metro College. I did the basic course, then the advanced course and then a course in modelling. I was certainly learning a lot but found it was too high for me; it did not explain statistical concepts or reasoning. So, I was learning a lot of things, but unable to apply it anywhere.
It was when I started researching the net once again for options that I found jigsaw. I went through the videos on the site, and found them to be very useful. I joined Jigsaw’s Foundation Course. I did all the assignments and really put in a lot of effort. I bought all of the books Jigsaw had referred. The resources were excellent. The clarity and learning from Jigsaw’s practical classes and videos, was so good that I was even able to go back to the previous projects I had been working on (from the other courses I had taken) and modify the work I had done. I had done so many courses, but until Jigsaw it was all just theoretical.
The Three Biggest Advantages of Jigsaw
• Mentors have great subject matter expertise in analytics and statistics
• Fantastic syllabus. Very logical way of understanding what each code means and detail oriented approach to understanding data. Excellent course content and explanation.
• Videos – well explained.
I loved the flexibility of the video course. The videos were more than enough for me to learn by myself. I was able to go step by step and complete my assignments. When I had technical issues, support was always helpful.
The Job Search
I started getting calls in Feb 2014 for telephonic interviews. Each interview for me was a learning experience. I didn’t know what kind of questions to expect. However the books that Jigsaw referred were brilliant at preparing for the interview.
Most interviews had three rounds. The first was the the HR interview. They didn’t want to go into details. There were the standard questions — Why should we hire you, Why did you apply for the job, What are your strengths and weaknesses… As far as the technical side, they ask for more than just SAS skills. Since I was working as a database admin in the CRM Admin, I was able to talk about how I generate, develop and analyze reports like campaign analysis for non profits. I was just transferring that knowledge from one place to another.
If you qualify, you are called for 2-3 more rounds of interviews. This job that I have qualified for, there were 4 interview levels. They questioned me in detail. There was a written test. I had to write out my explanation of a project I had worked on. Once I qualified in the written test, they called me for the next round. Then another HR, and then a face to face to face panel interview, where they ask detailed HR and technical questions. I had to go into detail about the challenges I had with data in my project.
The Challenges of the Interview
My personal challenge was that the projects I had worked on were all case studies and not from my personal work experience. When you work for a company, the problems faced are real. However the data sets that were used in Jigsaw consisted of real live data from various companies, and that was helpful in citing experience while working with complex data. But then again, I had to use my common sense, because to a great extent, my experience was only virtual. Also, companies interview for Data Specialists in Canada expect 5 years experience, which meant that I had to take that much expertise into the interview. Expectations were high, and so I had to actually work hard and think smartly in order to meet them.
Advice for Aspiring Data Scientists?
The market is really good for those with data analytics skills. Just taking a course will not land you with a job. You have to be persistent in your effort, and continuously strive toward getting where you want. You need to always keep yourself updated on what is available in the market, what skills recruiters are looking for. They want to know whether you can solve a problem. Jigsaw’s videos were fantastic and can be used as guidelines for actually landing with a job.
What are your future plans?
I want to study further and get to the Data Scientist level. I will work this job, pick up more skills, and work on what needs improvement. There will be challenges in this job because it’s my first job. I’m hoping that I can settle in, learn the ropes, and continue to learn more online at the same time. I have also begun a course in Enterprise Data Analytics in the University here, side by side. That’s my mantra- In life if you really want something, you have to take some pain. If you feel your career is not on the right track, then do some research and find out what you need to do, what skills you need to add to your skill set ,to be successful …to get that edge.
All the best J.T….Am sure with your skills you will really soar as a Data Scientist.