There are many different ways you can break into data science. You can go to school for a degree in data science, or you can attend a bootcamp. If you’re strapped for time or cash (or both) you can find materials online. Whatever path you follow, anyone breaking into a new field will find themself in the same place at some point. Any time you change fields, learn a new skill, or look for your first job, it’s common to feel lost or unsure about the appropriate next steps to reach your goals — especially folks who are underrepresented in that field.
You need a mentor — someone who’s been there and can help you navigate your way. In data science, having a mentor who can guide you through the wide variety of career options can make a big difference when it comes to kick starting and growing a successful career.
If it weren’t for the people who mentored, supported and guided me, both through learning data science and exploring the different career options, I wouldn’t be where I am today. In addition, because my mentors have more experience, they helped me understand nuances I couldn’t yet see.
The tricky part is that most newcomers to the field, even those who’ve been learning for a while, don’t know where to look for mentors. So here are five communities that can help you find mentors who can help you reach your full potential — and they’re all free!
5 Places to Find a Data Science Mentor
- Women in Big Data
- Women Who Code Data Science Chapter
- Mentoring Club
- Women in Data
1. Women in Big Data
Women in Big Data is a community built by women for those who are underrepresented in tech including women and people of color. This community offers a lot to women and POC to help them better understand the field while developing the technical and soft skills they need to build a successful career and one of their strategies is to offer mentorship to newcomers.
By attending events and webinars held by Women in Big Data, you'll get the chance to meet women who’ve found success in their tech careers and are willing to help you navigate your journey to reach your own career goals.
2. Women Who Code Data Science Chapter
Another great community built by women for everyone interested in data science is the Women Who Code Data Science Chapter. This is an amazing place to learn everything about data science, from tech skills to career advice. What I really want to highlight is their monthly Bytes n’ Brew event.
Bytes n’ Brew is a social event that joins the community together to talk about various aspects of the field, from how to start your journey, to how to make connections in the field. You can also ask other community members about becoming your mentor. To know when the next Bytes n’ Brew will occur, you can join the community’s Slack workspace.
3. Mentoring Club
Another great resource to check out is the Mentoring Club, a community of mentors who offer their time and expertise to anyone who needs their help. This website has hundreds of mentors in various tech fields, including data science. All you need to do is choose who you want to talk to, prepare your questions and reach out.
What’s great about this website is that you get to browse through the mentors, their current positions and their expertise before you schedule a session with them. It’s a great way to find someone who can help you make the right career decisions for you.
4. Women in Data
As a woman in tech, I’m always trying to find ways to support other women in the field, so I highly recommend Women in Data. This community holds a number of events, including a yearly conference, and offers many resources to learn and get the most out of data science as a field.
Women in Data has a free six-month mentorship program that’s designed to empower women and help them land the job they want by offering career advice, technical support and weekly life coaching sessions.
When we are learning a new skill, there’s often a big gap between the skills we learn and the skills we need to land the job we want. GDEXA recognizes this gap and attempts to close it by offering a free global mentorship program where experts from the industry help newcomers and learners navigate the field.
To be a part of this mentorship program, all you have to do is apply through the website. The GDEXA team will contact you and match you with a mentor who’ll offer one-on-one sessions to help you better navigate your career options. GDEXA offers mentorships for various tech subfields under data science.
We could all use some support and guidance when we are starting a new career or job. In tech, in particular, having a mentor who can guide you through learning new skills, writing a resume, building a portfolio, job hunting, preparing for interviews and negotiating salary can make the process easier and increase your chance for success.
So, if you ever feel lost, don’t know what step to take next or just need someone to talk to about your aspirations and career fears, check out one of these five communities to find a mentor who can help you reach your full professional potential.