Katie Schafer | Building a data science portfolio
3 February 2022, 05 pm

Katie Schafer | Building a data science portfolio

Head of Analytics at Beam Dental

Episode notes

We were recently joined by Katie Schafer, VP of Advanced Analytics at Beam Dental, to discuss the most important things going on with data science leadership.

Great tips & resources shared for this question: What can I do to be able to present my skills and build a portfolio if I’m not able to share my work?

Many people expressed that they are in this position.

Katie: Is it possible to simulate something akin to some of the data you would use? For project portfolios, submitting the actual work is not something that I’ve seen often.

In interviews, you need to be able to discuss the work. Describing the projects is really tough because you want to say something meaningful but you don’t want to be too specific. Having a role play conversation with yourself on questions you’re getting & practicing answers that are more generalized can be helpful. Take one specific problem, translate that to an abstract problem that you tackled with statistics and programming.

Javier: I’ve been in a similar boat. There’s a package called synthpop, which helps take actual data points and simulates them to make a completely synthetic data set.

When I was interviewing for my job now I built a shiny app that I deployed to a free shinyapps.io. I styled the whole app to be consistent with their brand. I don’t attribute that alone to getting the job, but the interviewers were super impressed. The ability to change out the theme is so easy, so for anyone who’s trying to get a job this could be an easy way for you to have something that you can change whenever you interview with a new company.

Rick: If you’ve ever worked with a designer - they have a template and they’re not just creating everything from scratch. If you have a nicely organized project as a data scientist, you’re showing your skills as a software engineer.

Zac: I do a lot of personal projects because I don't use R at work. For these projects I focus the topic on what skills I want to show off. I’m looking to start my career, so I write a blog & include reasons why I did something. I think this makes it a lot easier to share what I’ve done

Libby: For me with portfolio work, it's been difficult because sometimes my contributions are one algorithm inside a larger shared project, so I stick to descriptions, talking about what I did and why I did it, what the result was.

Larry: I describe the topic and present the deck. Sometimes I just make fake data, but talk about the steps I took.

Katie: Some of my richest connections have also come from speaking. R-Ladies has been a great starting point for that. A lot of meetups have gone virtual so you can now join a chapter even if you don't have one in your city.

Jiwan: Maybe start with a 5 min lightning talk with a topic you're excited about!

Other resources shared during the chat:

Prabha: Technical debt in ML systems Rachael: R community explorer app Javier: GitHub for the {bslib} app, feel free to clone as you see fit

Jobs shared during the chat:

Niklas: Several data science roles at my company (sustainability SaaS). 2 data engineers, 1 data analyst, 1 data scientist Jill: We are hiring for a Data Analyst role here at Viemed. We are a healthcare company and we LOVE DATA.

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Featured in this episode
Rachael Dempsey
Rachael DempseyHost
Community Manager at RStudio
I love connecting people across the data science community to share what they're accomplishing with data and help others do the same through community discussions, industry meetups, and more.
Katie Schafer
Katie SchaferGuest
Head of Analytics at Beam Dental
Katie Schafer leads the Analytics and Data Science teams at Beam. In this session she'll share her perspective on the benefits of getting involved in the data science community.

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