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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Volunteer Work to Boost Data Science Skills

I came across an insightful Reddit comment in regard to doing volunteer work with data science. It's encouraging to see folks putting their skills to good use and should be illuminating for those trying to "break into" the field.

Here's vmsmith's answer on how he volunteer to boost his data science skills:

Well, I volunteered to be the data manager for my state delegate. That wasn't too demanding or in-depth, but she did have a lot of data on constituents and donors that needed to be munged and put into consistent formats, and it was a chance to start writing small Python programs to work with .csv files.
Second, I volunteered at the research library at a near by university, and ended up writing a pretty comprehensive report on data management. This led to two things: one, a paid consulting offer at another university to help them get a data management plan in place, and (2) another volunteer gig actually developing a data management application in Python that's modeled on the Open Archival Information System (OAIS).
Third, I offered to do data munging for a physicist I know who's doing a hyperspectral imagery project for a government research activity, and needed someone to munge all of the geospatial data to create integrated .kmz files for each experimental session.
Finally, I volunteered to be on NIST's Big Data Reference Architecture Working Group.
All of those things (1) increased my skill and knowledge levels, (2) provided decent resume bullets, and (3) developed references and networking contacts. 

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