3 Valuable Skills That Doubled My Income as a Data Scientist


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Let’s start by introducing myself. I am a certified data scientist working in multiple positions (data science writing and editing) for multiple companies. You can call me an individual entrepreneur. Additionally, I provide guidance for adopting machine learning, creating infographics, and beta testing data products.

By juggling several roles, I realized that technical skills are not the essential part of the job. Learning new tools or methodologies can give you an edge over your peers, but these are not basic skills.

Before we dive into three valuable skills, I want you to ask yourself:

  1. Do you usually complete the task accurately on time?
  2. Does your work represent you?
  3. Do you understand the problem and find an optimal solution?
  4. Are you a curious person?
  5. Do you express your concerns about the project?

If the answers to the questions above are all “yes”, then you will agree with the basic skills that I will mention. Otherwise, you will learn valuable lessons that will potentially double your current income.

3 Valuable Skills That Doubled My Income as a Data Scientist
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Time management is crucial for the individual entrepreneur and an employee. Your ability to complete tasks on time will affect the whole team. Even if you are working solo, your ability to complete the contract within a given time will help you a lot.

Meeting project deadlines

Meeting deadlines will make you a reliable member of the team and win you favor with senior management. Even as a freelancer, completing the project on time will improve your reputation, and companies are willing to pay top dollar for a quality, on-time submission.

The best way to meet deadlines is to make sure you fully understand the project and decide how long it will take you to complete it. Communicate your timeline to your manager. Make sure it’s reasonable.

Always add more days to your calendar for unfortunate events such as illness, emergencies, internet outages and family issues.

Manage breaks

You cannot work 12-18 hours a day to complete the project. Working non-stop will end in disaster and you will begin to experience the symptoms of burnout. Managing breaks is a skill, and you need to make it a priority if you want to sustain your success.

Every day I take 1-2 hour mini-breaks during work. Every week, a half-stay, and every year, a long vacation.

Even during the project, you need to take multiple 30-minute breaks even if you get stuck and frustrated. No matter how urgent. Your health comes first.

Calendar management

Every phone, laptop, PC, and tablet has a calendar app, and very few people know how to use it effectively. Managing a diary is an art. You are in control of your meetings, working days, holidays and messaging days.

Add important things on the calendar with priority. I use color tags to prioritize tasks:

  • Holidays and special events
  • Team meetings and individual meetings
  • Grinding days
  • Light working days
  • Important non-work related tasks (bank visit, official visit, family)
  • Work related events
  • breaks

After mastering the calendar management skill, you will find that you have more time for yourself and this will reduce anxiety. You’ll know what to do weeks in advance. It will also improve your time management skills and eventually improve your productivity.

3 Valuable Skills That Doubled My Income as a Data Scientist
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Before embarking on the project, do a thorough research on the subject. Find out about the current development and propose a plan. If you’re testing an app or analyzing data, be sure to cover all angles.

For example, if I’m going to write a blog about data science tools, I’ll dig deeper into the documentation and samples and try a few out-of-the-box things to explore all the features. In doing so, I will discover many bugs and shortcuts to improve the process.

How does this affect your work? Companies are always looking for curious and quality-conscious people. This attribute in employees results in promotions and salary increases.

Follow the current meta

Data science is an ever-changing world and companies are looking for tools and methodologies to improve current systems. Staying in tune with the current meta will increase your productivity and make you adaptable to changes.

Solution-focused mindset

No matter where you are, a solution-focused mindset is the most in-demand attribute. You will not only impress your manager or teammates, but you will also create a strong case for a raise. These little things matter.

There have been many times where I’m stuck for days and when finally I find a unique solution, I get accolades. It’s about emphasizing and diving deep into the fundamentals.

Quality work

It’s optional in most cases, but for the company or the leader, it’s the most important thing. If you can submit quality work on time and consistently. This will set you apart and put you in a strong position to ask for more.

An in-depth analysis of the topic or data will help you uncover valuable insights for the business.

Always remember that your work represents you. Why do you see some contractors asking $300/hour and others asking $60/hour?

The quality of work will help you build a strong portfolio.

3 Valuable Skills That Doubled My Income as a Data Scientist
Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

For data scientists, the best form of communication is email, and the worst is text. Email is still official, and you have a time penalty to respond and think logically. Effective communication will help you in the long run. You will avoid arguments and frustrations.

In my case, I have to build this skill from scratch. I had no idea how to communicate my concern. As a result, I had bad contracts (lower rates), mental health issues (unreasonable working hours) and, in the worst case, endless arguments.

Communicate your concerns

Always communicate your concerns about working hours, project schedule, resources and compensation. If you think your time is worth more, let your manager know and I’m sure they’ll compensate you.

Saying nothing and working like an animal will cost you your sanity.

Even in the middle of the project, if you think the project was unreasonable and took longer, always voice your concern. Make sure you’re on top.

“The man who asks a question is a fool for a minute, the man who doesn’t ask a question is a fool for life. -Confucius”

Communication by e-mail

Make sure you learn the basics of email communication. Before answering the query or asking a question, be sure to think logically and avoid spelling and grammatical errors.

Use flags or stars for important emails and use rules to sort all emails into different categories. You don’t have to respond to everyone at the same time. Make sure your current project is prioritized. In addition, always accompany your request with references and logical reasoning.

Build your reputation

You can use effective communication to build your reputation. Never ask for unreasonable time, money or help. You need to be confident in your technical skills and learn to communicate results.

Remember that it is not by communicating with technicians that you are recognized. These are the non-technical stakeholders and the customers. Treat them fairly and with respect. Do not impose your judgment on them. Let them have the last word. In the long run, you will earn the respect of powerful people in the industry.

In my case, I’ve been approached by top companies to write content, books, and courses. And it’s all because of the way I deal with my colleagues, managers and employers.

  1. Management of time
    • Meeting project deadlines will make you a reliable employee or contractor
    • Managing breaks helps you stay consistent at work and avoid burnout
    • Managing your calendar will reduce anxiety and make you productive
  2. Deep Diving and Research
    • Keeping up with the current meta will keep you up to date with the latest tools and technology.
    • Solution-focused mindset will make you a valuable asset to the company
    • Quality work will increase your chances of getting a higher salary.
  3. Communication
    • Communicate your concerns to your boss and manager early and midway through the project.
    • Email communication skills are important. Make it a professional and logical conversation.
    • Build your reputation with honest and hard work. Make sure you treat everyone equally.

Abid Ali Awan (@1abidaliawan) is a certified data scientist who enjoys creating machine learning models. Currently, he is focused on creating content and writing technical blogs on machine learning and data science technologies. Abid holds a master’s degree in technology management and a bachelor’s degree in telecommunications engineering. His vision is to create an AI product using a graphical neural network for students struggling with mental illness.

Sean N. Ayres