Catch 22 of a data scientist

Sep 22, 2022

One of the most frequently asked questions I get from our data science students is this:

“How do I build my data science portfolio if I don’t have any experience? And how do I get experience if I don’t have a portfolio?”

I call this the Ultimate Data Scientist’s Catch22 (I learnt it from Alex Cattoni).

If this is where you’re at, you are not alone. There is a way out.

Below are the two power moves that many beginner data scientists are too shy to do. But these are how data scientists I know got to where they are today. I used these methods too to get jobs when I was starting.

1. Offer to work for a potential client/company/NGO

There is no harm in reaching out to companies to offer some basic analysis. This can be a good way to get their attention and understand them further.

The worst they could say is no thanks, right? But you only need one or two organizations or clients to say yes, and you are well on your way.

Working with NGOs is also a good idea to get hands-on experience using real data. While I was studying in Singapore and Australia, I volunteered my time working in the community centre to maintain their network.

As a result, I gained work experience, and the manager happily became my reference when I looked for jobs later.

2. Build up your portfolio with real examples

Your portfolio does not need to be projects that you’ve been hired or paid for. It can be any project as long as it is relevant.

Many of our students get a job using the portfolio they build during a training program. It can be a financial dashboard, social media analysis, or a simple house price prediction project.

Many people make the mistake of following a YouTube tutorial and building portfolio projects using what I call the “toy dataset”. Those data sets are simple and easy for us to learn a technique. But it does not carry much business value in a data science portfolio.

Remember, companies are looking to hire data scientists who are keen learners that bring value and grow together with the companies. And it’s our job to show them we are the right person.




If you want to start a data science career with real-world data, check out the Data Science 360 certification. You will build 5 complete data science projects that you can use directly in your portfolio. These datasets are actual data from the industry, and some are from my past clients’ projects.

These projects cover HR, property, retail, crime, and tech industries. Our graduates have secured jobs using these projects in their portfolio.

You will learn the exact steps that professional data scientists manage a data science project. From gathering data, cleaning data, building models, and checking performance. And most importantly, how to tell a data story that motivates our audience.

Learn more about the certification program here.

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