Taking a graduate data science job offer, or doing a MSc in Statistics

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donnachadh
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Taking a graduate data science job offer, or doing a MSc in Statistics

Post by donnachadh » Wed Aug 07, 2019 9:43 pm

Hi guys. Recent graduate here. I’ve had the goal of starting a career in Data Science/Analytics, for the past few years. I fell that it is an incredibly interesting field, and is in very high demand at the moment. I have just completed my bachelors degree in an unrelated field (Environmental Biology), so I have always planned on completing a Masters in Statistics to make myself more employable in the field.I’ve completed a few online courses and know basic levels of coding so I am not a complete beginner.

I have been accepted for a Masters in Statistics starting in September, which is about a year and a half long. Just today however, my summer internship has offered me a full time graduate position in Data Analytics.

I don’t know where to go from here now. I’m inclined to take them up on their offer, because after all, I will be entering the field I want to make my career in. What I am concerned about however, is that 5 years or so down the line, not having a masters degree, or even any relevant degree to my field, may prevent me from reaching higher levels in the field. That I will always be fighting my way to legitimise myself.

Should I just bite the bullet and get the masters while I am still in the studying mindset and don’t have any dependants or obligations? Would I be better served using that to leverage higher paying jobs down the line? Do you think that is the better investment in the long term? As it is a newish field I have heard some things about industry experience going farther than college education, but it’s all really hearsay.

Another big thing that may impact your opinion is that the masters is offered in my home country in Europe, so I will not have to be taking out any student loans or anything to pay for it. Also, I wouldn’t really be able to work part time as the university and office are about 3.5 hours apart, and I don’t want to have to commute 6 hours round trip 2-3 times a week, or pay for 2 different sets of accommodation.

Thanks for your help guys, I really appreciate this community.
Last edited by donnachadh on Wed Aug 07, 2019 9:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

KlangFool
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Re: Taking a graduate data science job offer, or doing a MSc in Statistics

Post by KlangFool » Wed Aug 07, 2019 9:46 pm

OP,

Take the job. Then, you would know whether the Master degree is useful. There is no point to be overly-educated without doing the job.

KlangFool

HawkeyePierce
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Re: Taking a graduate data science job offer, or doing a MSc in Statistics

Post by HawkeyePierce » Wed Aug 07, 2019 9:49 pm

+1 take the job. You can always return to school for a masters later on.

123
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Re: Taking a graduate data science job offer, or doing a MSc in Statistics

Post by 123 » Wed Aug 07, 2019 10:02 pm

Take the job. If you go back to school later the work experience will make the subsequent education more valuable. Perhaps your employer will help to pay for that next degree if they want you to have it.
The closest helping hand is at the end of your own arm.

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Watty
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Re: Taking a graduate data science job offer, or doing a MSc in Statistics

Post by Watty » Wed Aug 07, 2019 10:18 pm

donnachadh wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 9:43 pm
I have just completed my bachelors degree in an unrelated field (Environmental Biology), so I have always planned on completing a Masters in Statistics to make myself more employable in the field.
Be sure that it would really make you more employable.

I don't know about that field but in some fields having a masters may make you less employable since you would be overqualified for a job that only requires a bachelor's degree but when when a job needs someone with an advanced degree they might prefer someone with a Phd.

madmartigan
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Re: Taking a graduate data science job offer, or doing a MSc in Statistics

Post by madmartigan » Wed Aug 07, 2019 10:27 pm

It sounds like you're employable now. You are already imposing your imposter syndrome over future events you which may not matter. Take the job, and discover if this is what you really want to do. Get OTJ experience, go back to school while you're working (perhaps your employer will pay for it?).

lack_ey
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Re: Taking a graduate data science job offer, or doing a MSc in Statistics

Post by lack_ey » Wed Aug 07, 2019 10:55 pm

I would get more information about career paths at the company (and maybe for other employers, as maybe it's different across the pond and everything below is wrong), and also assess the feasibility of getting the M.S. later. In a lot of orgs the data science path (as distinct from data analyst roles) is not even available to people without graduate degrees. How high up would you want to go in terms of role in a technical capacity? The degree is likely a bottleneck and you probably also want a Ph.D. to get into the upper levels down the line, which of course would also be contingent on a lot of other factors. If getting more into management, then maybe it's not as much an issue.

Also, maybe most relevantly: what are the responsibilities of the position you were offered? What kind of tools and knowledge are involved? How does this compare to what you'd want to be doing in 5 or 10 years?

A degree outside of say statistics or data science is not an issue, but something more like engineering (especially electrical), computer science, operations research, economics, etc. would be more common than environmental biology. Of course, they gave you an offer for a reason; I'm just talking about my sense of what is typical rather than what is necessary.

On the other hand there's also a decent chance you could change your mind about the whole thing down the line, say by finding an even more appealing path later, and/or demand from employers could taper off significantly.

Revision17
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Re: Taking a graduate data science job offer, or doing a MSc in Statistics

Post by Revision17 » Wed Aug 07, 2019 11:25 pm

I'm not sure what the best path is for you. If you get the degree earlier, you'll have it. But then you may have more debt and no work experience. If you wait longer, you'll likely have more obligations and will have to work and get the degree part time. I'm kind of on a similar path, so here's my story..

I graduated with Computer Science/Computer Engineering majors a bit over 10 years ago now. I liked what I did, but after doing some Kaggle contests which I really enjoyed, I decided to go for an MS in Data Science. Both because I knew I'd need some theoretical background, but also because the jobs are very gate-kept to people who don't have at least Master's degrees (or like 5+ years of experience in that exact field).

My company has a tuition reimbursement program, which is super helpful. I know people who work for other companies with similar deals.. lots offer between $5k and $12k per year. It'll take me about 3 years + 1 semester with taking 1 class per semester (spring, summer, fall).

I just completed my 2nd class, Machine Learning, today. I'm still recovering from my final :|

Also while not specifically for Data Science, I know a few people who've gotten PhDs in technical fields where it didn't work out for them. Companies were hesitant to hire them partly because they had only been in academia. They've said while it was rewarding to complete it.. financially it would have been much better to either complete undergrad, get a few years of work experience, then go back for the PhD. Or to just get the Masters (ideally with the a company paying for it) and be done with school.

Gnirk
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Re: Taking a graduate data science job offer, or doing a MSc in Statistics

Post by Gnirk » Wed Aug 07, 2019 11:37 pm

Much like you, our granddaughter studied Biochemistry and Microbiology (as a pre-med program), and then took a class in statistics, and loved it! So much so that she decided to pursue a Master's in Data Science. Her University has a 4+1 program where she took graduate level classes her senior year that count towards both her BS and MS. She did a summer data science internship, and they wanted to hire her. She took the job, full-time, but was able to continue her Master's on a part-time basis. By working full-time she found she really enjoyed the work. She then quit that job after a year because she found she was doing the same work as the others, but was being paid half as much. She then did another internship with a large corporation this summer. They offered her a full-time position as a Data Scientist 1, starting in December at more than double her salary at her previous company, after she completes her Master's in Data Science.

Take the job, to see if it's what you really want to do. As others have said, you can then decide if you want to pursue your Masters degree. Perhaps your employer will help pay for it.

msk
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Re: Taking a graduate data science job offer, or doing a MSc in Statistics

Post by msk » Thu Aug 08, 2019 1:36 am

The Master's degree under discussion is typical of people changing or narrowing specialties, e.g. from physics to biophysics or to aeronautical engineering or data analytics. You have already been offered a job in your desired specialty. I expect that you can learn all you need to on the job over the next couple of years, especially since it is such a new field. IMHO do the Master's degree only if you are interested to go onto a PhD.

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Tamarind
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Re: Taking a graduate data science job offer, or doing a MSc in Statistics

Post by Tamarind » Thu Aug 08, 2019 5:13 am

I would take the job. Now you know you don't need the MSc to be employable. You can always go back for the degree if you need it later. IMO right after undergrad is the hardest time to get accepted to graduate programs. People who have career experience and know even more clearly what questions they want to focus on are very attractive to grad programs.

student
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Re: Taking a graduate data science job offer, or doing a MSc in Statistics

Post by student » Thu Aug 08, 2019 5:21 am

Speaking as a college professor, take the job now. Most people come to college with a goal of getting a good job. You are already there.

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LiveSimple
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Re: Taking a graduate data science job offer, or doing a MSc in Statistics

Post by LiveSimple » Thu Aug 08, 2019 5:28 am

Take the job, in the industry we do not look at the educational degrees,just what can you accomplish everyday by learning on the job. So keep learning every day.

Valuethinker
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Re: Taking a graduate data science job offer, or doing a MSc in Statistics

Post by Valuethinker » Thu Aug 08, 2019 5:43 am

donnachadh wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 9:43 pm
Hi guys. Recent graduate here. I’ve had the goal of starting a career in Data Science/Analytics, for the past few years. I fell that it is an incredibly interesting field, and is in very high demand at the moment. I have just completed my bachelors degree in an unrelated field (Environmental Biology), so I have always planned on completing a Masters in Statistics to make myself more employable in the field.I’ve completed a few online courses and know basic levels of coding so I am not a complete beginner.

I have been accepted for a Masters in Statistics starting in September, which is about a year and a half long. Just today however, my summer internship has offered me a full time graduate position in Data Analytics.

I don’t know where to go from here now. I’m inclined to take them up on their offer, because after all, I will be entering the field I want to make my career in. What I am concerned about however, is that 5 years or so down the line, not having a masters degree, or even any relevant degree to my field, may prevent me from reaching higher levels in the field. That I will always be fighting my way to legitimise myself.

Should I just bite the bullet and get the masters while I am still in the studying mindset and don’t have any dependants or obligations? Would I be better served using that to leverage higher paying jobs down the line? Do you think that is the better investment in the long term? As it is a newish field I have heard some things about industry experience going farther than college education, but it’s all really hearsay.

Another big thing that may impact your opinion is that the masters is offered in my home country in Europe, so I will not have to be taking out any student loans or anything to pay for it. Also, I wouldn’t really be able to work part time as the university and office are about 3.5 hours apart, and I don’t want to have to commute 6 hours round trip 2-3 times a week, or pay for 2 different sets of accommodation.

Thanks for your help guys, I really appreciate this community.
Work experience before MSC. People hire based on what you have done, not usually what you have studied (except when fresh out of school).

If it turns out to be a block, not having the MSC, you can undertake that later.

What is important is to get real experience in the field. You must make sure the role you are taking on (continuing from internship?) is genuine experience in the field.

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Re: Taking a graduate data science job offer, or doing a MSc in Statistics

Post by Unicorn1 » Thu Aug 08, 2019 5:51 am

You say you want to be “more employable in the field”. In what field specifically did you refer to? While there’s plenty of overlap between statistics and analytics, they are not interchangeable so it would pay to understand the subtleties of each. Aside from it being a hot field at the moment, are you truly interested in the subject matter? Your bachelor’s was in an unrelated field.

The Master's degree in stats will likely involve quite alot of statistical theory whereas a Masters in Analytics (if you chose that type of degree at some point) would still involve theory, but would generally include more applied topics. I assume that your calculus is strong since this will be mandatory in a master’s level stats program.

If you’re deadset on the field of Statistics, I say get the Master’s in Statistics. Sounds like you’ve got a good opportunity. I can count the number of statisticians I know without an advanced degree in Stats/Biostats on one hand, and I know alot.

If you're unsure about your true interest level in the field, the distinctions between Stats and Analytics, and how different degrees (Stats vs. Analytics) are perceived by different types of employers, then take the job and ponder these questions over time while you're making money.

olliema
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Re: Taking a graduate data science job offer, or doing a MSc in Statistics

Post by olliema » Thu Aug 08, 2019 7:09 am

Congrats on your achievements - you're off to a great start. I was in a similar place a long time ago - I took the job - and never looked back.

Let's visualize - the story is optimistic (as you should be) - does this sound good to you?
Point is to visualize the possibilities - then pick the path that lines up with your goals.
You're a smart person and you will find your way. Good luck!

Fall 2019
  • You've settled into your new job, while your peers are looking for work or working part-time to make ends meet.
  • You're committed to learning as much as you can at work while you create value and a name for yourself.
  • You deliver real solutions w/practical vs. academic theory, while growing your network & your self-awareness.
  • You're saving $18.5K in 401(k), $3.4K into HSA, and $10K cash each year.
  • You live lean like you did in college, avoiding frivolous purchases, and are able to cash flow life (no debt).
Summer 2022
  • You leave work after having being promoted to team lead, and your boss reminds you the door is always open.
  • Your LinkedIn profile shows real work accomplishments, and you have several glowing recommendations.
  • You take a 1 month trek, paid in cash, to relax + refresh in a part of the world you've always wanted to see.
  • You start graduate school in an area different than you planned, as you've refined your focus from experience.
  • With an $80K 401(k), $12K HSA, and $30K cash, your investments compound while you're off to study.
Fall 2025
  • You've completed your master's degree at the top of your class.
  • Unlike your theoretical peers, you connected the concepts to your work experience.
  • You get a role at a pay and seniority level greater than you would have had if you had stayed at your old job.
  • Your 401(k) and HSA are worth well over $110K, and you've managed to keep $10K cash in your reserve.

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JPH
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Re: Taking a graduate data science job offer, or doing a MSc in Statistics

Post by JPH » Thu Aug 08, 2019 7:45 am

I'm not sure what you mean by "Data Science/Analytics." Is it statistical analysis of research data? That can involve a lot of fiduciary responsibility as the client sometimes does not know much. They know what results they want and expect. You would need to know what is correct. It is possible to make some incorrect decisions and get wrong results. Some clients also expect expert advice on designing their experiments, handling protocol violations, and even writing the reports. I say this because I'm not sure a few online courses could get you there, and I may not understand the job. That said, if they know you and want you, then I would give it a try. You could see if it is a good fit. If you love it, then get the training that could move you into a more responsible, and better paying, position. Good Luck.
While the moments do summersaults into eternity | Cling to their coattails and beg them to stay - Townes Van Zandt

Colorado13
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Re: Taking a graduate data science job offer, or doing a MSc in Statistics

Post by Colorado13 » Thu Aug 08, 2019 8:06 am

Take the job. Use your employer's tuition reimbursement benefit (if offered) to pay for the degree. This may not apply to every discipline, but for business/related fields, I don't think anyone should pay for their own master's degree. Employers, universities, military, etc. are all options for paying this expense.

Stick5vw
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Re: Taking a graduate data science job offer, or doing a MSc in Statistics

Post by Stick5vw » Thu Aug 08, 2019 8:13 am

Take the job. Make/save some money, get some solid work experience on your resume, and who knows as other have said, you may realise the masters in statistics is not useful or something you really want to pursue after all. (You may decide an MBA or something else is better) good luck.

nura
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Re: Taking a graduate data science job offer, or doing a MSc in Statistics

Post by nura » Thu Aug 08, 2019 8:21 am

KlangFool wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 9:46 pm
There is no point to be overly-educated without doing the job.
Great advise, it is some common these days to be higly educated with being able to work in the relevant field.

Nowizard
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Re: Taking a graduate data science job offer, or doing a MSc in Statistics

Post by Nowizard » Thu Aug 08, 2019 8:27 am

Though there may be other factors such as your financial status, marital status, health, other responsibilities, now is the time to figure out what you really want to do with your career. Sounds like you have determined the area of focus, but there are always various ways to apply a skill set such as one in statistics. Personally, after completing a Master's degree, I knew that to rise to the top of my profession that a doctorate would be needed and that there were several areas of focus that could be chosen. Working for a couple of years refined both the knowledge that the advanced degree would be beneficial and the area of focus. Take the job if that approach fits your overall situation.

Tim

Prahasaurus
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Re: Taking a graduate data science job offer, or doing a MSc in Statistics

Post by Prahasaurus » Thu Aug 08, 2019 8:35 am

Take the job. You want to be a Data Scientist, you have a job as a Data Scientist. You have made the transition from your filed of study to data science, thanks to this job. Now, you will never have to explain to anyone you are qualified to be a Data Scientist. Because you will be working as one...

Also, I think you will find you need more programming skills than theoretical statistics. So when or if you decide to go back to school, you may just want to study something different.

stoptothink
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Re: Taking a graduate data science job offer, or doing a MSc in Statistics

Post by stoptothink » Thu Aug 08, 2019 9:01 am

nura wrote:
Thu Aug 08, 2019 8:21 am
KlangFool wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 9:46 pm
There is no point to be overly-educated without doing the job.
Great advise, it is some common these days to be higly educated with being able to work in the relevant field.
This can not be overstated. You would not believe how many PhDs, with no work experience, I get applying for entry-level microbiologist and chemist positions. I made the mistake of hiring one...once.

rj342
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Re: Taking a graduate data science job offer, or doing a MSc in Statistics

Post by rj342 » Thu Aug 08, 2019 9:11 am

1) Take the job! The applied field is evolving much faster than the formal college programs (even though academics are the pathfinders in some areas. You will also have a better idea after a while of just what sort of MS might be most useful, if any. You can pick up a few certs in the meantime if you wish. Also -- let the employer pay for it! You are right about -- if it will genuinely be helpful -- getting it done, or well underway before you have kids if possible.

2) Statistics is NOT Data Science anyway (although DS uses a lot of stats), so don't see the point of that MS anyway -- get one in *Data Science*, or some more general CS degree in a program that has data science courses, and likely requires the stats it thinks you will need.

michaeljc70
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Re: Taking a graduate data science job offer, or doing a MSc in Statistics

Post by michaeljc70 » Thu Aug 08, 2019 9:18 am

Take the job. Depending on what path you take, you may never need the masters. If you find you need it, you can get it later and will have real world experience making it more valuable.

PhilosophyAndrew
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Re: Taking a graduate data science job offer, or doing a MSc in Statistics

Post by PhilosophyAndrew » Thu Aug 08, 2019 12:01 pm

Take the job. This allows you to gain marketable experience and will give you practical insight into which, if any, additional degrees will be important for your career development.

Andy.

newguy84
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Re: Taking a graduate data science job offer, or doing a MSc in Statistics

Post by newguy84 » Thu Aug 08, 2019 12:40 pm

Data scientist of 12 years here. IMO, you should take the job and gain some real world experience. Honestly, I'd rather hire someone that can properly frame a data science solution in a business setting with less of a technical background versus those who are pure technicians without any business context.

almostretired1965
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Re: Taking a graduate data science job offer, or doing a MSc in Statistics

Post by almostretired1965 » Thu Aug 08, 2019 12:54 pm

I would take the job as well, for a couple of reasons. One, not everyone is cut out for this in terms of natural aptitude and interest. Finding out before you've expended time on a graduate degree is a good idea. Second, data science is a big field and a MSc in Statistics, while it is almost always useful, may not be the right path for you compared to say a CS Masters focused on AI/ML or building your skills in data wrangling.

After you've worked in the field a few years and have a few things in your portfolio, as it were, very few employers will care.

A

dknightd
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Re: Taking a graduate data science job offer, or doing a MSc in Statistics

Post by dknightd » Thu Aug 08, 2019 12:54 pm

It is crap shoot. Do what feels right for you.

JD2775
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Re: Taking a graduate data science job offer, or doing a MSc in Statistics

Post by JD2775 » Thu Aug 08, 2019 1:20 pm

This is a no-brainer. Take the job. You are basically being given a full-time Data Science job with very little coding experience (cpl online courses?). You must have impressed during your internship in ways that your employer thinks you can make up for any lack of real coding experience. You are in a fortunate position, take it. Cpl years down the road if you feel differently, then re-assess.

rbaldini
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Re: Taking a graduate data science job offer, or doing a MSc in Statistics

Post by rbaldini » Thu Aug 08, 2019 6:03 pm

Strictly speaking, depends on the particulars. An MS at a really good *data science* program - one focused on building and deploying models for real data, and *lots* of coding; not just theoretical coursework on this or that distribution - might beat an entry-level job that I felt wasn't going to offer an opportunity to advance my skills. But that's unlikely: in most cases, I'd say take the job. You'll learn a lot more about real data science work by doing it.

"What I am concerned about however, is that 5 years or so down the line, not having a masters degree, or even any relevant degree to my field, may prevent me from reaching higher levels in the field."
Don't worry about this. Data science is a new field: most people in it don't have a "relevant degree". And, really, no one in the real world cares about the education you got 5 years ago (unless you want to work in academia). What you accomplish on the job in the next 5 years will matter way more.

Speaking as a data science with a PhD in ecology. Feel free to PM.

transient_academic
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Re: Taking a graduate data science job offer, or doing a MSc in Statistics

Post by transient_academic » Fri Aug 16, 2019 12:58 pm

I think a lot of other posters are underselling that it is going to be harder to get the degree in the future than it is now. It's so much easier to be broke and learning when you're young and less likely to have a spouse and dependents.

That said, nothing beats practical experience both for your development and for you figuring out if you actually enjoy doing it. You may discover that line of work isn't for you.

Take the job.

Texanbybirth
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Re: Taking a graduate data science job offer, or doing a MSc in Statistics

Post by Texanbybirth » Fri Aug 16, 2019 2:37 pm

Take the job and get the master's part-time. Bonus if your soon-to-be employer will cover any tuition. Don't take any time off. You could be done in 18-months easy. You may even want to get a PhD in 3-5 years, even better!
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Re: Taking a graduate data science job offer, or doing a MSc in Statistics

Post by middistancerunner » Fri Aug 16, 2019 2:44 pm

Echoing many others: take the job! You'll learn about the space, and may decide later a different degree is more appropriate. I don't think it's implausible that you'll want an advanced education, but you'll be much better placed to take advantage with work experience.

FWIW, I interviewed for jobs in the data science space, and there is crazy-high demand for PhDs in certain disciplines right now. You may end up deciding to skip the master's and just go do a relevant PhD. You'll learn a lot on the job about what to do next.

il0kin
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Re: Taking a graduate data science job offer, or doing a MSc in Statistics

Post by il0kin » Fri Aug 16, 2019 2:58 pm

Not personally in data science but I am in the data analytics field and really enjoy it.

I’m very glad I’ve got 6 or 7 years of professional experience in the IT world under my belt as I am taking advantage of my employers tuition reimbursement and getting a MS Information Systems and Business Analytics. It has made the
coursework so much much more approachable as I’ve experienced some of the things being taught and have even been able to stand in front of a class and assist a professor with a tutorial on SQL coding. I chose the slightly more general ISBA degree as it allows more flexibility working in IT in general than something as specific as Data Science. My undergraduate degree was not IT related so it will strengthen my resume. Just giving some personal perspective.

Work for a few years and then do a part-time Masters program.

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