When I grow up I want to be… a Data Scientist!

by Mike Stankavich on June 1, 2013

I tried to think of a clever excuse for not blogging for over two years. But the fact that there really is no excuse kind of overwhelms any minor cleverness I might devise. So I’ll just say that I’ve been on a REEEEALLLLYYYY long coffee break. Or something.  I don’t know.  Does it matter?

So, what of the last three years?  Expat life has been good. Lots of travel, lots of learning, and a bit of self discovery. In many ways I’d like to keep it going. But family ties and professional development interests are leading back to the US at least for now. I’ll miss SE Asia. I do hope to spend more time in this part of the world. Our time here taught us that we can live with much less than we had when we lived in the US.  The challenge will be maintaining that level of minimalism after our return.

I’ll save the detailed travelogue and observations about life in Asia for future posts. For now, let’s talk about data science, big data, and mobile apps. My adventures in mobile startup land taught me that I have more love for databases, servers, backend services, and data in general than I do for mobile apps. This corresponds nicely to the recent upswing in interest in big data and data science.

While data science is multidisciplinary and definitions vary, it depends on three core skills as visualized on Drew Conway’s Data Science Venn diagram. I’m very confident in my hacking skills, and my love for reading and ongoing curiosity gives me a good foundation on the substantive expertise side. The one remaining gap is math and statistics knowledge. While I loved math and did very well in high school, I didn’t follow through in college.

While there are plenty of good schools in Asia, it’s easier and faster for me to address that math and statistics gap in the US.  Of course academic knowledge is one thing, and hands on experience is another. I want to focus on both. I decided that moving to the center of the Big Data universe in Silicon Valley and the Bay Area would be a great way to do that. Plus it doesn’t hurt that Stanford and Berkeley are in that area. So I bought one way tickets to San Francisco. I’m also looking at Vegas and Austin – data driven decision making dictates that lower cost and lower tax areas also merit consideration 🙂

I’m really looking forward to seeing how this next adventure plays out.  If you’re looking for a solid database guy with data scientist potential let’s talk.

PS: Apologies to lumberjacks and Monty Python fans everywhere for the title.


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