PhD Mechanical Engineering
Data Analyst, Arcadis
What are your main work activities in your current role?
The job of a data analyst is varied, depending on the nature of the data. My particular job ranges from writing scripts to automate data cleaning, to finding suitable models to make prescriptive analysis. In addition, I do a bit of automation of tasks (whatever is repetitive), and think of client opportunities that have loads of unstructured data which they could use to boost their company.
What route have you taken to reach your current role?
After completing my PhD in mechanical engineering and a 10 month role as a researcher, I realised I have the required skills to start a job as a data analyst. The PhD developed my critical thinking and my problem-solving skills, and all I was lacking was a programming language to use. I found Python easy to learn on-the-job and the training period offered by the company allowed me to get up to speed fast with what was required of me.
What do you find most enjoyable and what do you find most challenging about your job?
For me challenging and enjoyable are the same things. It may be quite stressful to receive a task which you don't know how to do 100%, but having a starting point, an idea, and then refining and improving your skills is very rewarding. I like the variety of the projects and the new insights gathered from the data.
What advice would you give to a current Postgraduate Researcher interested in working in data analytics?
Don't panic! I know I did, thinking I was utterly unprepared. But an entry level job helped me get up to speed in a comfortable manner. Research what type of job you would like to have - there are either very general, like mine, or very specific (i.e. data analyst, scientist, engineer etc.), and start applying for jobs which you would feel comfortable with.
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