Harry Potter is a courageous hero…. But where would he be without Dumbledore?!! Mentors are extremely important as they show us the way and guide us through life, no matter if that is a magical world or the mysterious world of Data Science. And it’s even more important to find a Data Science Mentor in 2021. The demand for Data Scientists has been constantly increasing over the years so it’s obvious that the competition is also increasing. Companies expect their candidates to be proficient in various skills like Python, Tensorflow, SQL, Machine Learning, etc. In this challenging situation, it can be very difficult to crack the market and become a Data Scientist without a mentor.
Many aspiring Data Scientists try to get information from online articles or talking to their peers about the industry. While this approach may have some success, it is very difficult to understand the inner working of this career unless you talk to a senior Data Scientist. And that’s where the Data Science Mentor comes in! However, it’s very important to remember that a prospective mentor is also a human and you should only ask them to tell what they are willing to tell you. Don’t try to force the relationship or you’ll never get any answers. Also, you should first establish a relationship with a Data Science professional and then ask them to help you or become your mentor. Cassie Kozyrkov, the Chief Decision Scientist at Google even says that if you’re thinking about asking a stranger to mentor you, it’s a bit like asking a stranger to marry you! Don’t do that!
If you can manage all this and establish a rapport with a Senior Data Scientist, then that can be a big support in your career as a Data Scientist. Your Data Science Mentor can help you in many ways and open many doors in your career. Let’s see how.
How Can a Data Science Mentor Help You?
Having a data science mentor can help and support you in many ways throughout your career. And the best thing is that they can help in things you wouldn’t ever have imagined with your career taking a whole new graph. Some things a data science mentor can help you with are:
1. Support You in Solving Data Science Problems
When you are a comparative noob in Data Science, you can face many problems while making a project or even working as a fresher in a company. Here, a Data Science mentor can provide many tips and offer technical solutions to some problems that you might be facing. They are more experienced so they can tell you if a problem is because of using the wrong tools, or an error in data wrangling, or maybe you should use a different data visualization chart and so on.
2. Provide Constructive Feedback
Data Science is a relatively new field and there is no single path to the top. This can create a lot of confusion in newcomers whether they are even going on the right track in their career. Tools and technologies are always evolving in Data Science so it may be a problem to remember that the techniques are more important than the tools. That’s where your Data Science Mentor is very useful as they can provide constructive feedback as they know the industry better because of their experience.
3. Help You in Charting Your Career Path
Data Science is not just a current fad but it is a full-fledged career where you have to work hard to remain relevant. It’s very difficult to understand in the beginning what you should learn and what you should invest your time into so that you have a long and fruitful career. Your Data Science Mentor can be a big help here as they can help you in charting your career path and show you the pitfalls you should avoid in the long run.
4. Provide Networking Opportunities
It’s likely that your Data Science mentor is already an established person in the field of Data Science with a long experience and career. So they will know a lot of people in the industry and have contacts. Through your mentor, you can meet a lot of people that will also provide you valuable insight into the Data Science industry and you may even end up with a job offer somewhere down the line from these networking opportunities.
What Can You Expect from Your Data Science Mentor?
Your Data Science Mentor is a valuable person in your life, but you should also remember that they also have a life. It’s important to understand that they are also a professional with a job and other responsibilities so you should only take enough of their time as they are comfortable giving. Also, you should remember that a mentor is not a fairy godmother with a magic wand who will just change your life! You should be willing to work hard and take full advantage of all the opportunities that are provided by your mentor because you may not get this option again.
How to Find a Data Science Mentor that Can Help You?
And now let’s come to the most important part which is where can you find a Data Science Mentor to help you. Well, there are many avenues for that and some of them are given below:
Find a Mentor at your Current Job
The best place to find a mentor is at your workplace! It doesn’t matter if you are already a data science professional or if you are in some other job and want to get into data science, it’s great to ask for help from a senior data science professional in your company. Most of the time they’ll be obliging and answer your questions. You can ask about their journey as a Data Scientist and why they started. You can also inquire about what you should learn in order to get a job in this field and what are the common mistakes that people do? You should establish a rapport with them and also learn the type of Data Science projects that are underway in your company. However, don’t be too pushy and be grateful for whatever they tell you. Try to form a genuine bond with them and who knows, you might even become friends in the long run.
Go to Any Data Science Meetups Happening in Your City
You should definitely attend any Data Science meetups happening in your cities. They provide an opportunity to meet like-minded people who have much more experience in this profession and can guide you in the correct direction. Even if you cannot get a mentor for the long run, still you will listen to a lot of people and learn many new things. Obviously, this plan is more difficult due to Coronavirus but there are still online meetups and things will eventually go back to normal when you can meet in person. A great website to find which meetups are happening in your city is meetup.com (apt name!) which has a lot of options for Data Science and Machine Learning meetups. You can also
Connect With People on Online Communities
When in doubt, always go to the internet! There are a lot of online communities that provide support and encouragement to Data Science and Machine Learning professionals. You can learn a lot from the conversations in these communities about the state of the data science industry and all the recent developments. You can also ask questions and get in touch with other people that may form a long-lasting relationship with them. Some popular Data Science communities include the Kaggle community, Reddit subreddits such as r/datascience, r/dataisbeautiful, Open Data Science, Data Science Central, etc. Sometimes some communities also have mentorship programs or community support that can also benefit you a lot.
Getting help from a professional Data Scientist will definitely enhance your career and provide you much-needed direction. So try to find a Data Science Mentor using these methods and get as much information about your chosen profession as possible. Also, remember that what goes around comes around. So after you become a successful Data Scientist, make sure that you also mentor a young Data Science hopeful with stars in their eyes! This will ensure that people always have help and that Data Science as a profession keeps improving. So all the best for your career as a Data Scientist and hope you find your mentor soon!