I’ve had quite a few people ask how to break into project data analytics. Its an area that will experience phenomenal growth in the next 5 years, so there is plenty of opportunity. But its also an area that is hugely competitive. We have advertised a few internships recently and have had hundreds of applicants, so you’ll need to be able to demonstrate something special to stand out.
CV The first piece of advice that I’d give is to work really hard on your CV. Its surprising how many people don’t tailor their CV to the opportunity. If someone wants to buy some apples, then sell them apples. Just because you have bananas or other fruit may not be relevant. Try and draw out why what you have is relevant to the role.
Covering letter Only 1 in 10 people submit a covering letter. Personally, I find the covering letter to be the most important because it brings your CV to life, enables you to explain why you are suited to the job and why you want to work for the organisation.
Experience Next up is relevant experience. If you are trying to break into project data analytics it is likely that you won’t have the same experience as seasoned professionals. But employers understand that. Project data analytics is an emergent field, so the gene pool is fairly constrained. You won’t usually be competing with those who have amassed years of relevant experience.
So what do you include in your CV? Employers will be looking for any experience in aligned disciplines. This may include subjects such as project management, statistics, working in a team or a range of other topics.
Start ups will be looking for people with a strong appetite to learn, a passion for what they do, people who go the extra mile and want to invest in themselves. People who are self starters and have the confidence to get involved, without reckless overconfidence. You’ll need to be creative how you portray this within your CV or the covering letter. Just saying it isn’t enough, you’ll need to evidence it. Larger companies will have a set of competences in mind; you’ll need to try and find out what these are and ensure that you bring them out within your application.
- How do you demonstrate a passion for the subject?
- Which meetups have you been to? How did they inspire you? What did you take from them?
- Which hackathons have you been to? What was your role? What did you learn and achieve?
- What code have you developed? How have you helped other people?
- Have you entered any Kaggle competitions? What did you learn?
- Which MOOCs have you competed? But be careful. Many of the MOOCs have a low hurdle and it is relatively easy to pick up certificates. You’ll need to be able to convey what you have learned from them and whether you have applied them anywhere.
Develop your story In your interview the employer will delve into what you are about. You need to tell a story; one that demonstrates you have the credentials for the role. Don’t just make it up on the spot, think through what story you want to tell. Having examples of a piece of coursework isn’t enough; everyone has the same examples. Show you have done something different, how you have invested in yourself. Don’t just say that you have a passion for something, demonstrate it. This should be the main theme in your story.
Leverage your network Do you know anyone who could help with an introduction? Could you bump into them at an event, a meetup or similar? Maybe reach out on Linkedin; if someone can put a good word in for you then it helps you to stand out. Be personable. Also, can you get any insights on the role or the organisation.
Attending hackathons can also provide access to networks of people who can help to open doors for you.
Which role? I’d be relaxed about choosing the perfect role. Things are moving at such a pace that your role is likely to evolve considerably.
There is plenty of advice out there. Do your homework. This is a good article from Favio Vázquez. There are many others.
Could I also recommend that you read this article from Jonny Brooks so you know what you may be getting yourself into.