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Archive for the ‘life choices’ Category

How can I find my passion?

Posted by Matthias on October 3, 2019

If you need to “find” your passion it’s quite likely you simply don’t have one.

Highly creative people are the ones who really need a passion in order to feel alive, and they usually know this as a fact since when they’re kids. They identify quite early in life what drives them, and you can’t really separate them from it. Be it making music, painting, building companies, doing research…

If you don’t have such a burning drive to do something specific, it means that you’ve reached adulthood being exposed to a lot of things and never identified anything that triggered it. Unlikely. At this point, you should do some introspection and find out why you think you should even have it. Are you just following a (very American) cultural stereotype, something someone else told you that you’re supposed to have, based on nothing but motivational speaking?

Most people seem to find their meaning and happiness in the sense of belonging to a community, in having children, and in helping other people (which is the reason why, as PayScale surveys show every year, the jobs in the healthcare sector are virtually the only ones where >80% workers state they think their job is meaningful to the world).
Try volunteering and working for something community-based, and see if your feeling of lacking something (that you think is “a passion”) decreases or not.

Also, I recommend reading the book So Good They Can’t Ignore You. It makes the case, supporting it with logic and evidence, that what most people call “passion” is actually just something they’ve become masters at.
Mastery makes you love what you do, because it makes you feel competent, needed, and in control.
But maybe saying “work seriously on something complex for 10 years and you’ll have a passion” is a less marketable concept to the masses than suggesting them they’ll find one under a rock while they’re hiking…

Posted in food for thought, life choices, psychology & behavior | Leave a Comment »

After 4 years of trying something and utterly failing, how do I bounce back from depression and purposelessness?

Posted by Matthias on October 3, 2019

  1. Focus on the answer to “what is the alternative?”. Explore what are your alternative options if you don’t keep trying. Then try to visualize your future self in the various scenarios that will happen after you take those alternative paths. Maybe you’ll find a scenario you like, most likely you won’t.
  2. Take a bold, radical move that you previously did not try or even consider (ex. changing country). If you feel like you have now nothing to lose, this is the perfect time you should go big. Shock yourself with a big change, you’ll avoid numbness.

P.S. I strongly recommend reading the book A Guide to Rational Living. It’s highly likely your mind is cluttered with self-defeating ruminations and anxieties. Reading this very accessible classic of cognitive behavioral therapy can work wonders for your mental health as a detox.

Posted in food for thought, generic stuff, life choices, psychology & behavior | Leave a Comment »

Which is the best major for students who don’t know what career they want?

Posted by Matthias on October 3, 2019


  1. If you later decide for an academic career, no matter the field, from sciences to social sciences to nowadays even humanities, you’ll use it
  2. If you decide to go into business, no matter the specific area (from the most obvious ones like marketing, to the less obvious ones like human resources), to get to advanced positions you’ll use it
  3. If you decide to specialize into any applied science, you’ll use it
  4. If you decide for tech/programming, either you’re going to use it or your thinking is going to benefit from having studied it
  5. Even if you’re not interested, or you won’t manage, to be in a role directly using it, your future company/industry/field is almost certainly going to have other people directly working with it, and your knowledge of the subject will therefore make you able to communicate on a technical level with them, making you just as essential
  6. Lastly, even if you happen not to do anything directly related, it’s going to be useful in your daily life nonetheless – to think more clearly, make better decisions, and avoid being deceived by misinformation, media and politics

In the vast majority of cases, you’re not going to need an advanced knowledge in the field, so a Bachelor’s would be optimal.
After such a Bachelor’s, you can literally specialize in anything you prefer, and, no matter your chosen path, you’re going to be ahead of the curve compared to your peers.

Posted in data, analytics, stats, life choices, strategy & decision-making | Leave a Comment »

Do many people applying to Data scientist positions end up either unemployed or in other positions because of the intense competition for most data scientist positions?

Posted by Matthias on October 6, 2018

If you’re good at automating stuff via programming you’re never going to be unemployed.
Economic growth nowadays comes in large part from increasing productivity, which is done by automating.

If you’re good at analyzing and interpreting data, same thing.
Data is the equivalent of oil in the digital economy.

What you’re probably referring to is a specific type of position that matches the classic description of what a DS does that you can find posted online everywhere.
Well, the problem with that type of role is not exactly the competition. You’re going to find it difficult to get a position like that even if your skill set is perfectly aligned. The problem is that the companies owning very large data sets that also have a specific strategy about how to leverage them are still a low number, and for the moment are either American or Chinese.
You need to get hired by one of those companies in order to get the experience needed to reach the type of DS role you have in mind and articles on the interwebz love to talk about.

But why obsess over that when the same skills can get you so many easily accessible alternatives?

Posted in data, analytics, stats, life choices | Leave a Comment »

Why is becoming a data scientist so difficult?

Posted by Matthias on October 6, 2018

It’s like asking why is becoming [any other high-level profession] difficult. DS is not an entry-level position, and I’m constantly surprised by how many on the net seem to think it is.

Let’s leave the theory alone, since the typical answer focuses on that.

The real mountain to climb is not learning theory, which is the starting point and can be done on your own, but developing as an applied programmer + developing a domain knowledge. Having all three is the only way to reach a DS position, because otherwise you’re not going to be useful there. You’ll just sit on a mountain of data and stare into the abyss, but that’s what the folks who accumulated that data are already doing, and they don’t need you for that.

For the first part, there’s no shortcut – you just have to practice constantly and challenge yourself with progressively complex issues to solve *in a real setting*. When you come out of academia you have no clue about this. And you won’t be able to do it in your room. You’ll need a work environment where you’ll be given real datasets and you’ll deal with real problems you’re expected to solve. This way you’ll be able to develop an eye for practical solutions.

For the second part, forget about shortcuts either. Developing domain knowledge is fundamental to understand what questions need to be asked, and the only way to reach that point of awareness is to work in a specific field and understand where exactly the well-known issues typically are, where the possible points of optimization are, and what ideas are actually still unexplored (and not new and cool in your head, but old news outside of it).

Previous points can take easily 10 years of work experience, and, even if there’s a fast progression in challenges and complexity, 5 years bare minimum.

Finding a place where that progression happens and you’re finally able to reach the point of being useful in DS is what’s really difficult.

Posted in business, data, analytics, stats, life choices | 1 Comment »

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