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Dr Anna Litticks – Things I wish I Knew Before Becoming a Data Scientist

Hello there. You may not know me, so allow me to introduce myself.

My name’s Dr. Anna Litticks. I’m a Chief Data Scientist, analysing my way through life, at some of the most infuriating businesses on the planet.

Of course I didn’t know this going in, lest I may have chosen another path.

If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve the same. You excel in a job virtually no one understands, except other Data Scientists of course, who you hardly ever meet, because well, you’re a Data Scientist.

So think of this as your safe space.

A place to raise a smile and be comforted by someone in the know.

In the next few issues of The Data Scientist, I’ll be giving you my top five ‘things’ I wish I’d known before starting my career.

Let’s start with the most obvious…

No one will ever understand what you do.

Statistics?!” my Mother snapped.

“I don’t know love, it sounds pretty limiting. There aren’t many jobs at the National Statistics office. There’s Banking I guess? But I can’t see you in a pin-striped suit.”

It should’ve been a warning.

I’m sure that I get my intelligence from my Mother, but even her brilliant mind couldn’t see where a career in Data Science would take me. Of course, it wasn’t called that then. And so explaining its importance seemed like debating religion with a frog.

My Father, who I inherited my introverted nature from, just smiled and nodded with a “Sounds interesting to me?

This only infuriated my Mother further, whose mind raced with the image of me burning my Maths tutor at the stake.
In the outside world things only got worse.

On the very rare occasion I describe my job to strangers (at events like weddings, where such banal queries seem mandatory), I witness people’s very souls evaporate, right after the word ‘Data’ is plonked awkwardly on the conversation altar.

These days I don’t bother and merely say “I’m a Scientist” which delivers a mildly less painful wry smile as the topic quickly shifts to what my husband does.

As if to illuminate my poor life choice for the masses, his easy to understand “I’m a Teacher” pleases them greatly.

It is easy to forgive occasions like these however, in lieu of the alternative, where the query holder has data sets of their own on the subject of Data Science and delivers their story as if it were complete and repeatable.

Where these ‘models’ exist, I’m at least thankful if it’s awkward wedding chatter, and not an interview, where the opinions of others will model my success, on a problem they think they understand, but don’t.

See you in the next post!

Dr. Anna Litticks

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