Through the years, I worked with all sort of data: customer data, web data, business operations data and even financial data. Whether the data is big or not, there is a set of qualities needed in order to do well in the field and have fun in the process.
In my opinion, curiosity is the most important personality trait for a data person. Curiosity to learn the business processes behind the data. Understanding other people’s job: how they input the data in their daily job, or how they will use your output for decision making. Searching for “who”, “when”, “where”, “why”, when the question was simply “what”. Asking questions to better understand the context and the goals before doing research. Curiosity to explore new horizons and identify opportunities.
You must be skeptical about known facts, especially about your own preconceptions. Any information or idea is only true when confirmed with data. You must be willing to dismiss your own hypothesis in a wink if data proves it wrong. But sometimes, you also have to doubt the integrity of the data!
You need the patience to spend hours or days in search of something, not knowing the answer before the very end. Patience to do the work all over again when clients change their mind on key parameters (true story). Patience, because the more you will learn, the less you will know.
Are you interested in the field?
If you possess these qualities, there is most definitely a place for you in the data world. There are many different careers possibilities that suit different backgrounds. For example, business people are useful at making sense of the data and telling stories. If you are a technical person, everyone will be after your skills to develop the craziest algorithm. But no need to be a top notch programmer to get started, you will learn everything in time if you are willing to put the effort.
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