This pandemic of COVID-19 is bringing the oncoming recession, which is adversely affecting the majority of the sectors. Companies are looking to cut costs and therefore relying on either laying off their employees or furloughing them during this crisis. Industries like travel, hospitality, retail and commerce have been the worst-hit where businesses are drastically reducing their workforce to reposition themselves in the industry. In fact, in a recent report, it has been revealed that India’s unemployment rate is now at a record high of 27.1%, which is four times than that of the US.
Although data science professionals are currently better positioned in the market and witnessing fewer layoffs, many of them are experiencing massive pay cuts and furloughs during this crisis. Alongside, having a core data science team can majorly hit the pockets of organisations, and therefore many are also shedding their analytics workforce to stable their finances. In fact, according to a news report, 1.5 lakh IT professionals, including data scientists, will be laid off and will remain unemployed during this crisis.
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M Rangaswami, a renowned venture capitalist and entrepreneur told the media that, although tech giants like Google and Facebook might retain their workforce amid the crisis, many startups and small businesses are either laying off or reducing employees’ salary. “They are all making sure that they have enough cash in the company for 18 to 24 months. This is a bad time to raise money. Because if they go try to raise money now, they’ll get a very poor valuation,” said Rangaswami.
Therefore, data scientists need to understand that layoffs are inevitable and cannot be escaped. Consequently, they need to be prepared and take proactive steps to handle possible layoffs. In this article, we are going to share a few days that can be helpful for data scientists to prepare themselves for an industry layoff.
Advance Your Skills & Knowledge With Online Courses
This crisis has brought in opportunities for data scientists to update their skills and certifications. The only way to survive this industry layoff is by upskilling yourself with newer technologies and skills that can assist in getting a relevant job amid this crisis. One of the main reasons for companies laying off their analytics workforce is because of their obsolete skill sets that aren’t beneficial for businesses any more. Also, not all organisations are looking to cut costs, many are also relying on data-driven decisions to create profits in this lockdown, and those companies will continuously be looking to hire data scientists with advanced skills. Therefore, it is imperative to keep up with the pace of this ever-changing technology landscape and learn new skills in machine learning and deep learning, etc.
For this data, scientists can join in a plethora of online courses that are available in the market, which can help them future-proof their career. Ed-tech companies like Coursera, Simplilearn, Udacity, to name a few, have already started to offer many online courses for free, which will help data science professionals to stay relevant in the industry. Many companies are also working towards enhancing their online resources to provide comprehensive learning for data scientists.
Krishna Kumar, CEO & Founder, Simplilearn said to the media, “With the rapid development and adoption of new technologies, it is today a necessity for professionals to upskill and stay ahead of the curve.” He further added, “Currently, data analytics, cybersecurity and artificial intelligence are the top 3 programs witnessing maximum enrolments.”
In another news, Alteryx, a self-service data analytics platform, has also announced three data science courses for unemployed data workers for free. As per the company, “The idea behind offering this course is to upskill new graduates and the victims of mounting layoffs by companies.”
Create Personal Projects
Another way data scientists can increase their skills in order to stand against the oncoming recession is by creating personal projects. Personal projects can be crucial to enhance your career amid this crisis. Not only it will improve the knowledge of the data scientists but will also enhance their skills and confidence in the competitive industry. Laid off data scientists can use the medium of personal projects to build a portfolio that can, in turn, help them in getting a better data science job. Data scientists can also use real-world data to create some projects which can later be showcased on GitHub, in order to be taken seriously in the data science community. A lot of companies also consider projects as a substitute of work experience, which, in turn, can help entry-level data scientists to get a higher-level job.
Alongside, in the post-pandemic world, the job market for data science would get competitive, and therefore data scientists need to create ways to stand out in the market. This is where personal projects can help in showcasing their skills. Not only these personal projects will demonstrate your expertise but will also highlight your passion for data science and your capability of solving business problems. Data scientists need to identify a real-world problem that requires a solution, collect data and then apply the data skillsets for creating a solution. Some of the trending ideas for data science projects are — character recognition, breast cancer detection, chatbot, facial recognition, fake news detection, among others. These projects can be a great way to enhance your skill sets and progress towards advanced data science.
Network With Your Peers
Amid this crisis, where the whole workforce has started remote working, data scientists must keep continuing their networking with their peers to stay updated with the industry and the surrounding environment. Also, if a layoff is in the making, then data scientists should totally focus on building their network and make themselves noticed in the industry for a future job prospect. It is also an excellent opportunity for data scientists to update their online profile with their updated skills and post their activities about their projects on social media platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter. These platforms can also be useful to network with potential employers who are currently looking to hire analytics professionals.
GitHub is another platform that can be beneficial for data scientists, where aspirants can showcase their skills by solving business problems. Many companies have hosted their projects on GitHub, and therefore data scientists can collaborate on firm’s projects for potential employers to have a look. Another excellent way of networking is writing a personal blog, which will create an online presence for the data scientists where they can share their work, details about their projects, and newer skills that have been attained. Showcasing your talent over a website can attract a lot of potential job prospects amid this crisis.
In fact, according to a survey, 85% of the respondents have stated that networking has clearly helped them in gaining employment. Also, in recent news, 20% of Kabbage’s ex-employees have managed to land on a job within four weeks of COVID layoff through their private networking group on WhatsApp.
“However, in order to create help, the 70 odd laid-off employees affected by the crisis, started an informal WhatsApp group, which worked out miraculously for these people to land a job,” stated in the news.
Relying On Mentorship
Mentorship has always been beneficial for data scientists even during the pandemic when many analytics professionals are getting furloughed. Proper guidance can always help in uncertain times, as these experts are knowledgeable about the industry and can provide a ground reality picture of the data science job market. Having a mentor during this uncertain time can not only be helpful in landing a job but can also support mentally for the ones that are recently laid off by companies. A good mentorship can guide data scientists in the right path for their career and can also motivate them during vulnerable times.
Oftentimes data scientists can struggle with capstone projects, and that’s where a good mentorship can help them. With the help of one-on-one mentorship, data scientists can solve complex problems that can later be showcased in their resume. Apart from that, connecting with mentors can help in building an extensive network of experts from the industry who can help in getting job prospects amid this crisis. These mentors can assist in reinforcing the skills and help in understanding the real job scenarios of the country. Some of the key benefits of having a mentor during this layoff uncertainty are — increased exposure to the data science community, developing real-world skillsets, feedback on growth and development, and speed up the career amid the recession.
In fact, many ed-tech companies have also started providing online courses that act as one-on-one mentorship for data scientists. According to Arjun Nair, Director of Great Learning said to the media, “…mentorship plays a key role in analytics programs for those candidates seeking a transformative learning experience and career advancement or transitions into careers in business analytics.”
Analytics India Magazine has recently launched a community-based mentoring program, which has been designed to support data scientists of the industry. By joining AIM Mentoring Circle, data scientists will have the opportunity to pick the brains of some of the learned personnel of the industry, which can help them in building their career amid this crisis.
Participate In Competitions & Hackathons
We have established now that attaining and demonstrating skills is must for data scientists to future proof their career from the impending layoff. Competing with other programmers in the world and participating in hackathons are great ways for data scientists to showcase their domain skills. These hackathon platforms provide a comprehensive platform for participants to solve a complex business problem. Many companies even pick some of their best programmers by collaborating and conducting hackathons. Data scientists can participate in these competitions alone or can even form a team to fight the battle. Not only these hackathons will help in showcasing the skills but will also help professionals to understand real-world business problems, get innovative ideas, and learn from experienced people of the industry.
Despite lockdown, many organisations have continued organising online hackathons for programmers and developers that not only kept them busy amid this crisis but also provided them with an opportunity to keep working and advancing their skills. One such online platform is MachineHack, launched by Analytics India Magazine that hosts weekly hackathons for data scientists to solve some of the toughest business problems using machine learning and data science techniques. Some of these platforms also provide practice sessions that can help enthusiasts practice ML algorithms like Support Vector Machine (SVM), Linear Regression, Naive Bayes, Extreme Gradient Boosting Classification and other such.