I would like a job that allows me to write programs or scripts for data processing/analysis. I am trying to understand what a move from academic economics to data-science/management would involve for me in terms of specific steps and goals. What would I need to learn, and what should I prioritise learning? Should I study at home or take a course? When (i.e. after how much or what sort of study/self-study etc) should one think about actually applying for those sorts of jobs?
I am about to graduate with an economics PhD. The PhD didn’t go well, and I have more or less decided that academia isn’t for me. During my PhD all I really enjoyed was writing scripts for data processing and for econometric analysis (in Stata and Matlab). You may remember be from a recent anonymous Askme. There I received some advice to the effect that there are jobs which would allow me to do precisely this. I’ve also been hearing about things like data analyst, data science, business analyst. [I have also read some other Askmes about this subject.]
My question is, how would I go about pursuing this in the short term, given my particular circumstances? In May I will have no job and about £5000 (around $8,300 USD). I know a little Python, and the above statistical software languages. I could last a few months of intensive self study at something but I would soon need income coming in. Although I can write scripts in the aforementioned packages, I am of no more than average computer literacy otherwise – my academic background is all economics and econometrics.)
My current ideas are: get better with Python and complete my data-scraping project (which I asked about here
). (I have started this and still intend to finish it, but my progress has been greatly slowed down by having to finish my PhD and teaching duties (all coming to an end soon). As part of the project I decided to learn Python at Codeacademy first and have been doing that.) But I am also getting the impression that knowing SQL is really useful – I have seen it as a job requirement in some adverts and a friend got work at a utility company based on those. I know a bit of R, and could work on that for the analysis side of things.
I would like to know, for the purposes of pursuing this data-job idea: what it would be best to prioritise in self study (what languages, projects etc), whether it would be a good idea to take a formal course in something, what sort of length of re-education (self study or course-based) this would involve before it would be worth applying to companies? If so, what sort of companies? I am thinking I might just get work wherever I can for the time being, and take a while to build up my skills at home in my spare time. Would it be a good idea to build a “code portfolio”? Is there a sort of skills ladder for these kinds of jobs, so one could go in at a lower ‘rung’ with perhaps only a few months of intensive retraining, and then improve skills while gaining on-the-job experience and getting paid?
Tldr; I am trying to understand what a move from academic economics to this data-computing area would involve for me in practical terms.
For context: I am late 20s and UK based [not London] but willing to move, with no dependents.