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I am currently thinking of making a change in my career.

After graduating with a first class masters degree in Maths, from a Russel Group University, I went in to teaching and completed a teaching training degree. I am now 24, (turning 25 this year) and have decided I don’t want to be in teaching anymore (mainly for poor pay conditions), and wanted to do something instead which mentally challenges me. After shopping around, I’ve decided that a role in data science would suite me well.

My masters thesis involved programming, in MATLAB, and I really enjoyed this aspect of it. I am currently learning different data science techniques for traditional and big data, and am self-teaching machine learning using online courses.

My question is: is someone in my position ever going to get a “Junior Data Scientist” position at a firm? I would consider myself able, and have a very good work ethic and I finished in the top 2% of my cohort at Uni, so I’d consider myself academically able (in math!).

The thing that worries me is -Prior background (being mathematical) - age : is 25 too old?! - already starting a career in teaching (does it look like I’m unsure of myself?)

Any advice on this would be massively appreciated. Thank you for your time.

closed as off-topic by IDrinkandIKnowThings, gnat, Jim G., scaaahu, gazzz0x2z Jan 8 at 14:22

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    Go for it, apply for jobs and ask for feedback and see what happens. – user1666620 Jan 7 at 20:30
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    I don't think 25 is too old for any career change. In fact, I'd expect most post-grads to make a career change (if they are going to) around that age - you've had just the right amount of time to try out the industry corresponding to one of your specialties and found it not to be a good fit. Unlike many others, you've recognized it and are being proactive. That is nothing to be ashamed of, it's a good quality. – CactusCake Jan 7 at 20:38
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is someone in my position ever going to get a “Junior Data Scientist” position at a firm?

The only real way to know is by applying to several options and see what offers you land. If I had to guess I would say you do have a chance, as this would be a Junior position (and they should be expecting candidates with the corresponding experience) and your background is relevant for the industry.

When working on your resume make sure to highlight those aspects that are more relevant for Data Science positions. In your case, this would be your Math background as well as your programming experience.

I also suggest you expand your Programming Language experience and try other Data Science friendly/oriented Languages (say, Python, R, etc.). As Matlab is proprietary and many companies prefer open-source/free options (and so you start strengthening your programming experience and knowledge).

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The thing that worries me is -Prior background (being mathematical) - age : is 25 too old?! - already starting a career in teaching (does it look like I’m unsure of myself?)

I switched at 30 after doing a PhD. You are definitely not too old, your career has barely started! Plenty of time to change careers again in 10-15 years time when you decide that hover-jets are your new passion.

The big thing to remember when applying for jobs is: how can I provide value? In academia, you provide value through prestige, publications, and teaching. A junior consultant provides value by making clients happy and getting jobs done quickly. Two main points:

  1. Think about what skills you have from your background that can be leveraged to make clients happy and get jobs done. Perhaps your maths background allows you to pick up new analytical techniques faster?
  2. See if you can find someone in the industry to talk to. Skip HR and contact someone directly, have coffee (lots of coffee with lots of people) and chat about what you can offer. They can help you to both frame yourself the best way, and also point out skills you might want to fill in to make your value proposition better.
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25 is definitely not too old. I was in my early 30s when I moved from engineering to statistics, and I have colleagues who moved from fields like physics at similar ages.

I agree with DarkCygnus' recommendation to try Python and R. I'd also encourage reading up on the visualisation/communication side of things, as this is often a weak spot. Alberto Cairo's "The Functional Art" might be a good starting point here, with a decent survey of other work in the field, and pointers to data vis in R.

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