In Europe, startups and established corporations alike are tapping into the power of data science. However, putting the right team together to your business’ data sciences problems remains challenging, as the talent scarcity continues. This is, of course, good news for data scientists; those who combine expertise in machine learning & big data technologies with business acumen can expect to play a central role in an organisation’s decision-making process, and start an exciting career in a rapidly evolving industry.

Graduates of quantitative disciplines like engineering or the natural sciences will find alot of their current expertise overlap with the skills needed to become a data scientist. Blog posts, online-courses and tutorials can provide a strong foundation for transitioning to data science, though most people who choose this route reach a sticking point. To progress further, practical experience becomes crucial; it’s one thing to learn these new skills, but it’s quite another to apply them to unique problems and challenges as you would in the workplace. MOOCs have undoubtedly been instrumental in bringing education to the masses, but to fully master a field as multi-faceted and nuanced as data science, it helps to shed the anonymity. Hands-on experience, overseen by a mentor who can identify your particular strengths and weaknesses, offers huge benefits. Particularly in terms of time; with hard work, expert support and a solid background in mathematics, statistics and programming languages the transition from rocket science to recommendation engines can be a matter of just a few months.

2014 saw high-quality training programmes flourish, particularly in the US, but Europe was largely left playing catch-up. This is where Data Science Retreat comes in. Started by former Chief Data Scientist Jose Quesada, PhD, DSR is on a mission to train passionate data scientists from all over the world. Since the spring of 2014, he and his team have been working on a rigorous and intensive 3-month training program in Berlin, that recruits its participants from all around the world.

Each class involves a small number of select participants, who attend classes taught by chief data scientists, and work to solve real business challenges under expert mentorship. The curriculum spans everything from big data technologies to business communication, with the hope of setting up the pupils with a skill set covering every key aspect of work as data scientist. During the course, students also work on their own portfolio projects, which they present to a number of German and international companies at a hiring-day at the end of the program. Previous participants’ projects include a recommendation engine for flatshares & the Berlin real-estate market, a predictor for the outcome of art-auctions and the location of crime-scenes in urban areas.

The program has also been well-received by the hiring companies: more than 86% of the participants found the job they wanted within 3 months of their completion of the program, with 60% of participants getting multiple job offers, and having the freedom to pick.

The next 3-month DSR session will begin in early February 2015 and will be hosted at the German online retail giant Zalando, home to a team of more than 40 data scientists.

Are you a budding data scientist who is looking to specialize and excel in the data science field? Applications are still being accepted if you are interested in being a part of Data Science Retreat batch 03!

(Image credit: Data Science Retreat)


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