A lot has been written lately about which type of data science and analytics program makes the most sense for your situation. However, the press has been a little more sparse about exactly what the post-graduation job hunt looks like – especially in that crucial first few months.
Why are the first few months so critical? Fair or not, potential employers are at least implicitly looking for some ‘social proof’ around their candidates – or in the case of a prolonged job search, the lack of substantial interest from any other company could send a cautionary signal.
For better or worse, there is a premium associated with soon-to-be or fresh graduates (including traditional computer science university graduates), and that premium erodes over time.
A Numbers Game
Especially in a quickly-evolving field like data science (some would argue it’s THE most rapidly changing ), in extreme cases the skills and frameworks that were impressively relevant a year ago might not as much in demand after the initial buzz has died down a bit.
So what does this mean for your job search? As with most prospecting efforts, in large part it does come down to a numbers game – how effectively can you get yourself out there, especially in the first few months after graduation?
For me, getting a job in data science was 80 percent networking, 20 percent skills, and not the other way around. –Will Stanton
First, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend targeting Fortune 500 companies – companies with deeply ingrained HR departments that are looking for reasons to programmatically eliminate candidates from the hundreds/thousands of resumes they receive per day.
Low-hanging fruit for them would be to automatically eliminate candidates whose most recent experience is in a data science bootcamp.
Connecting With the Right People
Rather, the smaller and more early-stage companies are where most recent boot camp grads have been reporting the most success recently. Essentially, these companies are much more directly interested in what skills you bring to the table right now, as opposed to larger companies who might be more interested in how smart they can make their hiring processes look to the board of directors.
Additionally, a big benefit of looking for non-huge companies is it’s much easier to directly get through to someone with direct hiring power. Instead of throwing resumes into a black hole for the larger corporations, you can expect responses from CEO and CTO-type people – and sometimes they will even interview you themselves – and sometimes very quickly.
Cutting Out the Middleman
When you’re directly interacting with the high-level people within the smaller companies, you also cut out the not-always-optimally-competent middleman.
To get hired at a large corporation, you generally need to impress at least (a) the automated filtering system, (b) a HR generalist, then (c) the hiring manager. When talking directly to people in smaller companies, steps (a) and (b) become much less relevant.
Shifting gears a bit, when it comes to the actual interview, there is still a good deal of preparation that is well worth your effort. Especially amongst smaller companies there is a huge range of technologies/frameworks/domains that you’d have to become at least passably familiar with to have a solid chance of landing an offer.
Fortunately, a lot of the founders are very open about exactly what they’re trying to accomplish and how they’re going about it – sometimes as granular as exactly what technology frameworks they’re using and what they’re trending towards.
As with pretty much every company, interview prep is critical – the good news for the smaller companies is that it’s generally much more straightforward to figure out how to actually prepare.