Alex H.

Data Scientist
Happy to mentor
Happy to be contacted

About me

Alex H.
Chemistry
Chemistry
Undergraduate
Constantine
2021
United Kingdom

My employment

Data Scientist
KPMG UK
United Kingdom
Finance and consultancy
Large business (250+ employees)
2021

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A day in the life of a Data Scientist in the United Kingdom

One of the biggest challenges is learning the technical skills as I come from a non-technical background but my team is really supportive and helps with learning development.

Briefly describe the organisation you work for

I currently work for KPMG, one of the Big 4 consultancy & finance firms.

What do you do?

I am a data scientist. My time is split between project work and training where I can be doing anything from labelling and cleaning data, investigating and building ML models, or general coding projects. I am responsible for technical solutions to client problems with a focus on using AI to build these.

Reflecting upon your past employment and education, what led you to your current career choice?

I had a love for the data analysis that comes with chemistry but decided I wanted something a little bit more technical that would push me which is how I ended up at data science! I had no prior coding experience beforehand but did a few online courses in data visualisation and thought it was an interesting field and after talking to some people who worked in the field already, I decided that Data Science would be the best fit. I wasn't sure on the industry I wanted to work in so I applied to general consultancy firms and have since worked with clients across a range of sectors.

Is your current job sector different from what you thought you would enter when you graduated?

I initially thought I would continue working in chemistry and even looked at further education but in my final year I decided that the thing I love most about the subject is the data manipulation and problem solving that comes with lab projects so I applied to tech only grad schemes with a focus on Data Analytics/Data Science.

Describe your most memorable day at work

I got to use some of my corporate volunteering hours for a virtual school session about food GHG emissions. This was a great opportunity provided by the company and I got to lead some discussion with the students and dip into my atmospheric chemistry knowledge - it was challenge to rephrase things like 'what is a GHG?' for 10-12 year olds but overall an extremely enjoyable and rewarding session.

Are there any challenges associated with your job?

One of the biggest challenges was learning the technical skills as I come from a non-technical background but my team is really supportive and helps with learning development. Even 2+ years in I still have dedicated training time each week for although it is still sometimes hard to balance it alongside projects. One of the most recent challenges has been upskilling in GenAI as it takes off and more and more clients want to use it though there is always a steep learning curb on any new project that uses new technologies (rewarding when you can confidently implement it).

What’s your work environment and culture like?

My role is hybrid so I aim to go into the office once a week but sometimes go in 3-days if I want to a specific work environment. My team aims to all come in Mondays and Thursday (the latter is when most people come in so there's usually a lunch or post work drink). Within my team, the work hours can be flexed slightly as long as client work and deadlines are met etc. I often travel to different offices for client work every few months but have yet to properly travel for client work though I know people who have gone to places like UAE (purely luck depending on the project you work on).

What extracurricular activities did you undertake at university and what transferable skills did you develop through these?

I was president of Constantine WAFC in my final year (as well as social media sec and tournament sec in the years before that) and part of ChemSoc commitee for 2 years. Both improved my confidence and allow me to effectively deliver sessions and presentations in my current role. The roles also helped me understand how to balance my work and extracurriculars which has been invaluable in my current role.

My company has Networks and volunteering opportunities you can get involved in which are similar. I currently support a Women in Tech initiative for girls aged 14-16 yrs creating a 3-day hybrid event to introduce them to the varied careers on offer.

What would you like to do next with your career?

I would like to gain more variety across clients/sectors and across technologies. I am excited to explore the different GenAI use cases and see how the data regulation industry changes in response to this.

What top tips do you have for York students preparing for today’s job market and life after graduation?

Definitely do your research! It's never too soon to start looking at post-uni options and it means you can figure out early on what you would like to do and gives this idea chance to develop - I wish I'd done this as I might've realised I didn't want to stay with chemistry and could have tried to get relevant experience for the technology field.

When applying for jobs don't worry if you don't meet all the criteria (I had no coding experience but showed interest through an online course). And don't forget forums like Student Room which can help you understand what to expect at each stage of the application process. I had over 5 stages before I got to the interview for my current role so figure out a way to make sure you don't miss a deadline (check your emails daily!) and set aside enough time to do whatever exercise/test they are asking you.

What topics from students are you happy to answer questions on?

Happy to answer queries on things to do with the firm or my job or general advice about picking a grad scheme etc.

Next steps...

If you like the look of Alex’s profile, the next steps are down to you! You can send Alex a message to find out more about their career journey. If you feel you would benefit from more in-depth conversations, ask Alex to be your mentor.

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