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How I became a Data Scientist

Jay Didcott pursued a master’s in Data Science to work in one of the fastest growing fields in tech.

Jay Didcott
Jay Didcott (BSc Computer Science 2018; MSc Data Science 2020).

While studying for an undergraduate degree in Computer Science at Bath, I benefited from internships in Cyber Security with the Civil Service and Data Science with J.P. Morgan. I had been introduced to these employers through an industry networking event organised by the University, and the internships helped to inform my future career choices.

After graduating, I joined the Civil Service as a Software Engineer, where my interest in data science grew. One year into the role, I wanted to specialise. Taking a master's degree was the perfect way to bridge the skills gap, giving me the confidence and certification required for rejoining industry as a Data Scientist.

Committing to study was not easy given the cost, but I knew it was the right thing to do in the long-term and that being a student again would be fun. What I looked forward to the most was the summer research project, where I could study a topic of my choice alongside a field expert.

The reason I specialised in Data Science was because of the real-world impact I could have by extracting value from data, whether that’s gaining insights from historical data or making predictions about the future. Writing code which later drives business decisions is extremely rewarding.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, organisations have been making a greater number of critical decisions by turning to Data Scientists for answers. There has never been such high demand.

Study and support

Data Science is a broad and new subject, such that institutions teach the subject differently. Bath manages to teach both the theoretical and practical elements across fundamental and cutting-edge research areas. Assessments test not just your technical skills, but also how you answer ambiguous questions that you face in industry. By the end of the course, I felt ready to enter the workplace as a Data Scientist and, in 2020, Forbes even ranked the course in the top 10 Data Science programmes globally.

Beyond studies, I gained professional development through the University’s Careers Service. They provide tailored training, market insights, networking events, CV feedback, interview practice, and more. After graduating, you can continue receiving support from the service.

COVID-19 materialised during the course, at which point many job opportunities were rescinded. However, with help from Bath’s Careers Service and plenty of preparation, I was fortunate to be offered the perfect role as a Data Science Consultant for an international technology company.

Why I chose Bath

Although the University is highly ranked on academic league tables, I was attracted by its awards for student experience. Looking to the future, I was also impressed by the University's career prospects for students, being one of the best choices in the country.

There is so much on offer, from sports clubs and societies to volunteering groups. I enjoyed booking badminton courts for free to play with friends – a great perk! But my favourite extra-curricular activity was volunteering to support students with autism and social anxiety who were starting at University. Playing a small part in helping someone with this transition is really rewarding.

Bath itself was attractive because, while the campus and city centre were both exciting places to explore, there were also plenty of quiet, scenic spaces to escape to. And in all my interactions during the Open Day, on and off campus, everyone in the community was welcoming. Anyone who is friendly will fit in at Bath.

My advice to prospective students

If you value course quality, student experience, and career prospects, then I highly recommend the University of Bath. Whatever your situation, just keep gathering new information about your options until you can confidently make a decision. If you still have doubts, then reach out to the University to learn more. I'm always happy to help too; you can find me on LinkedIn.

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