3 Key Steps to Landing Entry-Level Data Science Jobs

Sakshi GuptaSakshi Gupta | 6 minute read | October 6, 2021
How to Impress a Data Science Hiring Manager

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If you want to become an entry level data scientist, you are really going to like this article. Do you know why? Because you’re soon going to find out that getting entry level data science jobs requires way less time and effort than most aspiring data scientists usually think.

Data Science Myths Busted for Entry Level Data Science Jobs

However, before we jump on to understand the quick steps to get entry level data science jobs, let’s talk about some big fat myths aspiring data science professionals have about data science careers :

If you want to become a successful data scientist, you might have probably heard of the endless set of requirements you need to fulfill to break into data science, haven’t you?

Here’s how it usually begins: first, they tell us that you need to be a Ph.D. holder. Then, they tell us you need to be from a coding background. And lastly that you need to have at least 7 to 10 years of experience working in the IT industry and 2 to 3 years of experience in the field you intend to work in to become a data scientist. We’re not making this up. The number one Google search result for the question “How to become a data scientist,” says exactly that… (If you don’t believe us, go check for yourself).

However, considering these myths and going by that logic, getting a Ph.D. and relevant experience to become a data scientist should take you at least a decade. Well, guess what?

We personally know a Springboard learner who is not from coding or a computer science background but decided to switch careers considering the increasing demand for data scientists. He wanted to become a data scientist because he was fascinated by the flexibility and benefits that we all know can come with a data science career. However, he had one challenging roadblock- he knew nothing about programming.

Yet, 6 months after getting into Springboard’s data science career track, he managed to become an entry level data scientist.  Isn’t that crazy? And the most amazing thing is that he neither had a Ph.D. nor years of experience to show off. 

Now you might be thinking – “Ok but let’s be real. These unicorns are very rare and probably one in a million so this doesn’t matter to me.”

It might seem a little fishy but the reality is that even with zero experience in the data science industry, you can land top entry level data science jobs with a perfect career plan. Definitely, it’s not going to be a cakewalk- let us tell you that. You will have to put in efforts to match up with the knowledge and skills in the data scientist job description to get an entry-level data science job. Having said that, it’s possible to go from an average entry level data scientist salary of 7 lakhs per annum to a senior data scientist role with data scientist salary somewhere around 25 to 30 lakhs per annum in around 2 to 3 years. Wouldn’t that be wonderful ?!

Key Steps to Getting Entry Levels Data Science Jobs

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If you really want to become a data scientist and then go all the way to a senior managerial data science position, here are some quick steps to follow first to get an entry-level data science job. Work on these areas in order to start building your brand as a data scientist –

1.Build a rock-solid Data Science Foundation

Much before you even think of applying for data science jobs, you need to be sure that you have all the data science skills hiring managers are looking for. Needless to say, a data scientist must be familiar with the important concepts of math, statistics, and probability, know either Python, R, or SQL, have knowledge of one or more data visualization tools, and possess other soft skills like business acumen, communication skills, and storytelling skills. There are tons of online resources that help you build these skills. Once you have a strong foundation of the essential data science skills, you can strengthen these skills with on-the-job learning by getting a data science internship which is a unique opportunity to gain hands-on experience working with real data.

2. Get Relevant Hands-On Experience

Landing an entry-level data science job is no small feat. When you’re just getting started in the data science industry, it might seem like it’s impossible to land that first entry-level data science job. Everybody wants to hire a data scientist with experience. How do you get that relevant experience if no organization wants to hire someone with absolutely no real-world experience in the data science industry?

Applying For An Entry Level Job
Image Credit: iFunny

Nothing is more important than gaining hands-on experience. It might be very difficult to gain real-world experience working for an organization doing data science. To provide yourself with relevant experience as a data scientist we suggest –

  • Work on personal data science projects – Choose simple and relevant projects that help you learn required data science skills in the process. GitHub is the best place to showcase these projects to hiring managers. Not to worry if you do not have an innovative discovery to show off, your projects should depict your understanding of the topic you choose and provide the recruiter an indication that you can work independently.
  • Participate in Open Source Projects – Contributing to various open-source projects helps you gain colossal experience and also a feeling of joy when millions use your lines of code on a daily basis. Choose projects you are interested in and send in pieces of code. Don’t be scared if you end up sending bad code, just keep calm and try to understand where you have gone wrong. This will help you gain experience and also have fun while you are learning data science.
  • Participate in Coding Challenges and Hackathons – These data science challenges force you to build practical data science applications and help you connect with experienced data scientists in the industry. Hackathons and coding competitions will not only help you gain experience in turning data science concepts into actions but will also help you get external recognition.

3. Build a data science portfolio to showcase your skills

As entry-level data science applicants ideally aren’t going to have any job-experience, having proof of successfully implementing data science skills is necessary to get a data science job. The portfolio is public evidence of the data science skills you have and a fantastic way to showcase your experience even if you have no real-world experience. This exhibits your passion for doing data science to the recruiters and your ticket to landing your first data science gig. If you need some worthy guidance in building an awesome data science portfolio, we recommend reading “How to build a data science portfolio?”.

How to send your first data science job application?

Having acquired all the data science skills and built a great data science portfolio, it’s time to start sending your data science job applications. So, how do you go about it? Should you directly hit popular job sites like Indeed, Glassdoor, and Naukri to land your first data science gig? Instead of hitting the job boards directly, the best way to get an entry-level data science job is to connect with recruiters in recruiting events or job fairs, or on LinkedIn, or through peers or other networking opportunities like conferences or meetups.

Building connections is an essential requirement to get shortlisted for your first data science interview. Be active on LinkedIn, share any new data science certifications or projects you complete, and engage yourself in various technical discussions in data science groups. This is the first step to influence potential employers before you can get an interview call from them.

Having connected with the recruiters the next step is to show them and explain how your data science skills can help their organizations solve the problem and there you go, your first interview will follow.

In this article, we walked you through a few valuable tips to follow to get an entry-level data science job without any prior experience, or it will be better to say that we helped you understand how to get started in the data science industry from scratch. We believe that many aspiring data scientists are sold into the thinking that becoming an enterprise data scientist takes as much time and money as becoming a doctor. Why not take an alternative path to become a data scientist -one that costs less time and money -when there are already so many professionals who have already accomplished it and many more who are pursuing it. 

Since you’re here…Are you a future data scientist? Investigate with our free step-by-step guide to getting started in the industry. When you’re ready to build a CV that will make hiring managers melt, join our 4-week Data Science Prep Course or our Data Science Bootcamp—you’ll get a job in data science or we’ll refund your tuition.

Sakshi Gupta

About Sakshi Gupta

Sakshi is a Senior Associate Editor at Springboard. She is a technology enthusiast who loves to read and write about emerging tech. She is a content marketer and has experience working in the Indian and US markets.