Thriving on change: My winding road to data science

winding road to data science DXC Blogs

I didn’t start my career aiming to be data scientist. In fact, I didn’t start my career aiming for anything.

I was the kid who could never settle on a career. Marine biologist, actor, doctor, engineer, police officer, artist, lawyer – every week I changed my mind on what I wanted to be. As I got older, I was told I needed to pick my career so I could take the right classes and get into the right college. But, I couldn’t decide.

High school came and went, and still I couldn’t decide. Eventually I signed up for classes at my local community college, but I was still searching for what I wanted to be.

A couple of years later, I had an opportunity to move from my small California beach community to go to school in Chattanooga, Tenn. I was working more than studying at that point since I still didn’t know what I wanted to do, and I thought this would be a fresh start. So I moved, sight unseen, 3,000 miles from home.

At the time, I was too naïve to understand what uprooting myself from everything and almost everyone I knew meant, but I learned quickly. And it was hard. I didn’t know what I was doing, and I thought many times that I had made a terrible choice.

Yep, yep, okay, just a little bit more….Why did I do this to myself?? Everything hurts and I’m dying.

However, making that move became the first change that would set the course for where I am today.

Change by its very nature is unsettling, and developing comfort in change is a learned skill. We must learn to embrace it and know that, with each experience, what was once ambiguity becomes opportunity. I truly believe this.

After moving to Tennessee, I had many more changes: I dropped out of college (again), moved to Pennsylvania, returned to college, graduated, got laid off (my husband at the same time!), moved to Virginia, got hired by CSC, moved to Florida, had a baby, moved home to California and most recently experienced the merger of CSC and HPE Enterprise Services to DXC Technology. Some of these changes I chose and some were chosen for me. However, each of these changes made me more comfortable with the ambiguity of the next.

Along the way (somewhere between being hired by CSC and moving to Florida) I discovered data science. I remember the moment. I was sitting in my favorite chair reading an article about the Center for Visual and Decision Informatics (NSF I/UCRC) and it hit me: That was what I wanted to do!

Not so much the visualizations, though I enjoy that, but the asking and answering of vast questions. However, this would necessitate a big change as my career in human resources was just taking off. I had to decide: Do I stay with HR where I was on a good career track, or make a move for data science?

I chose to take a chance. It took me four years to make the transition, but it was a decision I never regretted. Today I am working on a variety of data science projects that are exposing me to new and exciting technologies as well as bigger and bigger questions.

I realize now that had I not gone through all those changes in my past – even the scary, difficult ones that seemed like a mistake at the time – I would not have found, finally, what I wanted to do.

Thriving on change – it takes practice, but it’s well worth the effort.


Logan Wilt is a data scientist for DXC. She is interested in practical tactical data science applications as well as leveraging semantic technologies for better data discovery.

 

 

 

RELATED LINKS

Mastering data science: A ‘tweet sheet

How to get a competitive advantage using data science

Thoughts from a data scientist: Becoming competent may be easier than you think

 

Comments

  1. Hi……….you had a wonderful journey in your life and finally opted Data Science.

    Like

  2. Sushanth Raj says:

    Hi Logan,

    Thank you for the sharing such a wonderful career journey you had, I could resemble myself in this post. The Data Science journey which I have opted in my career, this field constantly gives you thrive to look for something new and intuitively I choose this what I am going to do when I was scattered all places trying to find a right path for my career, which I don’t regret now. We can do great things in our newCo – DXC.technology.

    Thank you,
    Raj

    Like

  3. Hi Logan – Is there an employee resource group for data scientists where I can get some mentoring from ? Please let me know.

    Like

    • Logan Wilt says:

      We don’t have a formal one that I am aware of, but send me an email and I’ll see who/how to get you connected.

      Like

  4. Life is just one big decision tree. I started out knowing I wanted to be a graphic designer when I was in high school, figured maybe web developer in college, and then web applications, and now data science (mostly visualizations) after learning R to help someone on a project.

    Like

    • Logan Wilt says:

      So very true. Our experiences build and fork in so many ways. If you haven’t already played with it, check out the R package, igraph, for undirected graphs. I had fun with that one.

      Like

Trackbacks

  1. […] Thriving on change: My winding road to data science […]

    Like

  2. […] Thriving on change: My winding road to data science […]

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: