Perspectives

In this section, we provide prespectives and insights for navigating your career pathways.  We post chats and presentations from industry experts as well as summarize insights from conferences and networking events we attend.

Data Science & Healthcare: An Insider's Perspective

I recently spoke with an Emory alumnus, now a data scientist at a large healthcare organization, to get an insider’s view of what it means to be a data scientist in healthcare.   To put things in context, she is a senior level person and the organization is HCA, one of the nation’s leading providers of healthcare services, comprised of locally managed facilities that include 171 hospitals and 118 freestanding surgery centers located in 20 U.S. states and the United Kingdom.   Because data science programs are still in their early stages of development, we do not see QSS or a Masters in Data Science on her resume.  Like many senior level folks practicing data science today, her academic pathway included a variety of disciplines, including computer science, engineering, biology, and biostatistics. 

Our conversation was geared toward understanding the different roles and opportunities that exist for people interested in both healthcare and data science.  We also spoke about the key skills necessary to be successful in such roles as well as her thoughts about the academic requirements that employers are seeking.  To be clear, healthcare is a HUGE industry and this just one insider’s viewpoint representing one segment of the spectrum

HERE are responses to some questions and visuals based on our conversation.

And finally, a few words of wisdom....

What words of wisdom would you share with students?

  • Beware of PhD snobs – many in the field have PhD’s but it is not essential as long as you are a critical thinker and you ask questions beyond the typical ones proposed.
  • Beware of Modeling snobs – there is no uniform approach to munging data and making sense of it, however, because of the conservatism required with healthcare related data, some are reluctant to change
  • Storytelling is key - focus on being detailed and consistent
  • Don’t get discouraged – you have to be persistent

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Advice from Women "In Technology"

The most compelling take-away from listening to GA’s panel discussion this morning is that working “in technology” is a bit of a misnomer.  There is no single definition for what working “in technology” means, it is a broad and nebulous term.   Nevertheless, there were definitely a few common themes and bits of great career development advice that apply to anyone seeking to enter and grow in this broadly defined industry. 

The ladies on the panel included a web engineer, project managers, operations directors and even an HR manager.  Their backgrounds were equally as diverse, from a double major in Anthropology and Computer Science (yes, an Emory alumna), to a self taught web designer, to a children’s book writer and a few others in between.  Their message to future Women in Technology – follow your passion and assert your worth.  There are so many different ways to participate in this growing industry that you don’t have to sacrifice your passion, if anything, that passion is what will help you find your place in it.  For example, the children’s book writer – she joined the tech world by using her passion for writing and communicating to venture into digital marketing and is now a lead player in product development for Pivotal Labs, a software development company.

Each of the panelists had a story to share about how they ended up in the tech world and despite their unique stories, they all agreed on why they want to stay.  Their various roles require that they continue learning, they’re never bored (constantly challenged), they feel they’re making a difference by solving relevant problems and they’re in organizational cultures that are dynamic and supportive. 

In a nutshell….

  • You don’t have to know everything!  These ladies could not say enough about the fact that this industry is changing so quickly every day, the culture is all about learning, being curious, and asking lots and lots of questions.  You have to have a passion for learning.
  • Ladies – assert yourself!  This is still a male dominated industry and the key is to stay self-assured, confident and respectful.  Focus on your unique set of talents, arm yourself with information/facts and be “openly confrontational” – don’t be afraid to speak up for yourself.
  • Network, network, network – stay connected with people you admire, get to know new people and stay informed of what’s going on in the industry.  Find ways to volunteer and collaborate with others on new projects.  Figure out what “success” looks like in your area of interest.
  • Use social media to promote your work – self-publishing your own research findings or your designs or even your own programs is OK!  These activities show that you are serious about what you want to do even if you haven’t found an employer yet. 

On staying organized and managing your time…

  • Ask for help, look for help, and let people help you!
  • Learn that “perfection is the enemy of the good enough”.
  • Find a helpful App to manage your To Do lists – suggestions: Trello, One Big Thing, Wunderlist, Cozi (for family stuff).

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Panel discuss their careers in various industries

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Drew Linzer on Social Science and Career in Data Science

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