Thinking about a career change, but what exactly to?
April 22, 2014 4:06 PM   Subscribe

I'm currently a records manager for the Feds, but what I really love is the data. I've been thinking that I would like to change over into a more research/policy analyst type of job, but I'm unsure of exactly how to get from here to there.

My first masters is in information science. During undergrad (many years ago) I took some research methodology and statistics courses and really enjoyed them, but I would essentially be starting from scratch in that area. My tech skills are pretty decent, but I wouldn't call them expert. My favorite part of my work is designing new information systems, working with an office to determine what data they need, how they collect it, and what format they ultimately need their results in. I think (hope?) that those practical skills will serve me well if I chose to go this route.

So my questions are these. Does this sound doable, or am I totally nuts? What type of schooling might I need? And are there any resources you all can point me to that will teach me more about this career path? I'm really in the information-gathering stage at this point. Thanks in advance!
posted by backwards compatible to Work & Money (2 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I am thinking of something like the same and have been researching this. What I'm thinking of doing: learn Python as a language through either a a coding bootcamp or an online mentoring program like Thinkful. I started down the road to learning python because of wanting to build software but became far more interested in data science jobs - there's significant overlap possible as well. Plus you could easily do something like Thinkful in the evenings without quitting your day job (and, conceivably, gain a skill for shifting or promoting within) -- there's a listing of all such programs at Bootcamper.
posted by sweltering at 5:20 PM on April 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: It sounds like you're actually pretty close, but what exactly you need to add to the skills you've already got depends on what kind of job you want. Maybe you could set up some informational interviews with people who work where you'd like to work, and ask them what they need. Reading some job descriptions from Indeed searches might help too. There are plenty of free online resources to brush up on or learn statistics. AnalyticBridge and Smart Data Collective are good places to learn about data science.

But "policy analyst" sounds like a position that one would find at think tanks, right? I'm not sure where you'd go to learn about that world. I do know that one of the main things they look for is familiarity with the data they use. Maybe you could do a project of your own with the relevant data to show off your skills.
posted by the big lizard at 5:30 PM on April 22, 2014 [3 favorites]

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