Saturday 13:30–14:30 in Auditorium

How to become a Data Scientist in 6 months: a hacker’s approach to career planning

Tetiana Ivanova

Audience level:


This talk outlines my journey from complete novice to machine learning practitioner. It started in November 2015 when I left my job as a project manager, and by April 2016 I was hired as a Data Scientist by a startup developing bleeding edge deep learning algorithms for medical imagery processing.


Short intro

Who I am, my background and short summary of my story. Here I will list the steps I personally took to achieve the goal I had.

How did I do it?

  1. Why I chose a “hacky” way to enter this career path. First mover advantage, why getting a degree doesn’t always improve your career prospects. Possibly a rant on the signalling function of formal education and how that is rarely aligned with a relevant practical skill set. Some stats to back it up (best career success predictors). Examples of hacking bureaucracies/social hierarchies from my experience and elsewhere.
  2. List of things not to do and common cognitive pitfalls.
  3. Networking for nerds - how to do it right.
  4. Time management for chronic procrastinators - how to plan a self-guided project. Some notes on psychology of time discounting and need for external reinforcement, with autobiographical examples.


You don’t need a PhD or even a masters to do machine learning. On taking calculated risks and especially calculated exits from one’s comfort zone. Some notes on soul searching and how to choose a career that is also a passion. Reading list.