An Opinion by Dr. Meredith Dodd, Data Science Instructor, Woz U.
The military and government can be an incredibly rewarding place to use your data talents, as you are working towards the common good.
Woz U Data Science Instructor, Dr. Meredith Dodd, spent three years working with the government as a full-time embedded contractor for the U.S. Army Public Health Center. There, while working as one of the data scientists, she helped better the lives of Soldiers and their Families by providing analytics and evidence for the Army Wellness Centers, a community-based chronic disease prevention program that improved risk factors for chronic disease, such as high body fat, weight, and blood pressure.
Dr. Dodd reports that working with the Army was “incredibly fulfilling” and that “nothing gives you a sense of satisfaction like using data for good!” In fact, so many people are interested in using data to help others that this has become an actual movement! Check out websites such as Data for Good or DataKind that allow data science volunteers to use their knowledge to benefit individuals and communities. If you ‘ve had any interaction with Dr. Dodd, you ‘ll know that one of her favorite sayings about the field is that “Data science can change the world!”
However, although our government serves the people, it can be difficult to actually get positions with them; like any bureaucracy they are rife with time-consuming processes and protocols. Applying for any civilian position on USA Jobs can feel daunting and time consuming. There are multiple processes and obstacles to consider and even one or more evaluation questionnaires. At the time when these positions are listed as available, it ‘s important to remember that there is no guarantee and oftentimes the hiring pool remains open. A prospective applicant should also consider things such as the ambiguous terminology and ensuring your time applying is well spent. It can be difficult to determine if the position one is applying for aligns with the applicant ‘s skill set in order to align with the department ‘s needs.
This process, [the struggle can be real] is not only onerous for job seekers, but for employers as well. The ambiguous titles can mean that some candidates may not get consideration at all. To change any position requirements is a long and extensive process, often taking months or longer. What if there was a solution that made both parties happy? Guess what — there is! The Office of Program Management (OPM) has declared “Data Scientist” an unofficial job title that can be included in position.