Why did you choose the sector you’ve moved into?
Data Analyst was a job that I was aware of, but hadn’t really appealed to me. I’d applied for some roles after my PhD and had friends from undergrad working in these kinds of roles. Although I was keen for my work to have an impact, these jobs never seemed challenging enough and I was worried I might get bored.
By the end of my postdoc, Data Science roles were in vogue and promised much more challenging work and often asked for applicants with PhDs. They also require a high level of computer programming, which was a skill I spent a lot of time in academia learning and was keen to continue.
How did you get this job?
My fiancée works at the BBC and found out about the job. I also managed to get a phone call with the hiring manager through her boss to find out more about the role, the team, and some of the projects that they work on.
This really helped me to tailor my CV and my answers in the interview – it’s not just about having the skills, but also knowing how to apply them that wins extra marks in the interview. I’ve found most people are more than willing to help; reaching out to a connection on LinkedIn who works for the company to get a bit more information about a role can be really helpful.
I had to initially apply directly on the BBC’s careers website and then had to do a technical test for the interview. This involved being given some data and asked to present something back. Again, having a better idea of the types of problems that the team typically work on helped me to choose what analysis to do with the data and present at the interview.
Although the job descriptions for Data Scientist roles often say a PhD is preferable, it was clear from all the interviews I had that the interviewers had little experience with academics and most didn’t know what a postdoc is. So, it’s really important to translate and explicitly highlight your relevant skills, rather than just assuming that your postdoc position will be interpreted as you being a confident public speaker with a wealth of experience writing project briefs.