McKinsey & Co and Nasscom have forecasted that data and AI can add USD 500 billion to India’s GDP by 2025. With so much data being generated, the role of data scientists who can interpret and analyse data to make well-informed decisions is all the more important in the world we live in today.
This makes being a data scientist one of the most sought-after jobs globally. And India is no exception. Once dubbed by the Harvard Business School as the “sexiest job of the 21st century”, the demand for data scientists has sky-rocketed in recent times.
Working on cutting-edge tech, solving complex problems and great perks in this field has made it a very attractive option to build a career in. This has made professionals from other fields make a beeline to enter this domain. But transitioning into a data science role from another domain may be a tricky road.
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The core skill set of a data scientist must include a deep understanding of mathematical and statistical concepts, critical and logical thinking capabilities, programming skills and a great sense of storytelling through numbers. But how does an aspiring data scientist make such a transition?
The reality behind the hype
This is where training institutes come and can work as a medium for aspirants to move from any other sector to the data science field. Lately, there has been a huge influx of such training institutes claiming to make you data scientists through their various flagship courses. But the question remains – Are these training institutes actually creating any impact to help people get into a data science role, or are they too good to be true? What should a student look for while taking such an important call during the transition phase?
A few big names in this training space include Greatlearning, Simplilearn, Upgrad, Scaler Academy, Codeninjas, Jigsaw Academy, IMSproschool, and Ivy Professional School. Similar but smaller training institutes have popped up in every nook and corner of tech hubs like Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Gurgaon to satisfy the growing need of more and more data scientists.
Most of these training institutes offer courses ranging from 12 to 24 months that start with the basics of data science and move into advanced concepts, statistical packages, and programming skills to prepare the aspirants for data scientist jobs. Some even claim to make you job-ready in 3 to 6 months. This is where students need to be very careful.
Arjun Nair, co-founder, Great Learning, says, “In the past also, we have seen training institutes that have claimed things, but they are not able to deliver. Students who want to take up such courses need to deep-dive.”
Deep dive before the plunge
He points out what students should look at and deep dive while selecting a training institute.
- How long have these institutes existed
- The faculty teaching the course
- The people who run the institute
- Feedback of alumni
- How many alumni made the promised transition
- The salaries they are drawing after the transition
A user on Quora who took a data science training course from a big name in this space writes anonymously, “I don’t recommend any certification courses that range from 3–6 months and that too online. After all, how can someone be a data scientist in 3 to 6 months? Almost all of these institutes give only 2 hours weekend classes, and I strongly feel it’s not enough at all even to learn some basic concepts of analytics.”
Even on the recruitment side, senior data scientists and managers think that the bogus claims made by the training institutes are serving no purpose at all. Karthik Murali, who works as a senior data scientist at a Chennai based analytics firm, in a post on Twitter, broke down the reality behind the data scientists hiring process.
Do not fall into peer pressure
Murali feels that doing just one course for the entire field of analytics/data science or data engineering will not help one reach even the second round of interviews. He feels that these centres give one a degree or certificate but not a practical knowledge of solving a problem. “They don’t help one solve business problems nor teach the foundations of a tool,” Karthik said.
He advises students not to fall into peer pressure and to choose wisely. He suggests entering the data science space by individually specialising in each skill like SQL, Python, R from basics to advanced instead of taking the quick success route through these courses.
For the training institutes, Nair has some tough advice. He feels that the only way for the coaching institutes to survive in such a cut-throat space is by speaking the truth and nothing else. They have to ensure that they do everything to enable candidates to reach the outcome that they are looking for.
How To Gain Confidence of Students:
A good data science training institute should carry some must-have features that enable students to transform their careers. These include:
- High-Quality Faculty
- Relevant and updated content
- Good hands-on projects
- Personalized support and feedback
- Conducting assessment in a credible manner
- Extra focus on career counselling, career support
- Tie-ups with corporates
While the data science field looks attractive and is seeing tremendous growth in opportunities, any aspirant who wants to move into this domain needs to dive deeply and not blindly fall into the marketing gimmicks that training institutes deploy to attract more and more people to take up their courses. Thorough research will not only save you money and time but also help you tap the right resources to enter the data science field.