So, you’ve just completed your degree– now what?
If you’re looking to break into data science at top tech companies as a new graduate, whether that be with a Bachelor’s, Master’s, or PhD, check out some of these great associate data scientist programs and roles below. These programs offer a unique variety of training and work experiences in diverse specialties that might be otherwise unavailable to new graduates trying to transition into full-time data science (and adjacent) positions.
Getting into a Data Science Program
As you’ll see below, the required skills and qualifications for these new grad data science programs vary widely across different companies, as some are designed with students with no significant work experience in mind, while others expect more rigorous individual projects and skillsets.
In particularly quantitative and analysis-driven positions, for instance, companies are likely to filter for experience in SQL, Python, or other programming languages. For product analytics roles, projects involving data cleaning and analysis are basically a must-have. Point being– make sure you have an understanding of basic data science tools and evidence of using them in various projects, which can include old coursework. If you’re interested in very specific or niche programs, do some research into what they recommend in particular and brush up on those skills.
The interview process for new graduate data science programs also varies by company, but most selection processes include some or all of the following components.
After you apply for a program and are selected, this initial interview is designed to get to know you and your past experiences and/or projects. Depending on the selectivity of the program and the breadth of the position, this interview could take place either with a general hiring manager or a specific director/team member for a given program. There will most likely not be any technical questions asked during this portion of the interview process, but be prepared to describe your coursework, project involvement, and work experiences (if applicable) in great depth.
Technical Screen and Take-Home Challenge
After passing the initial screen, you’ll be invited back for a technical interview, which will include coding or case study type questions depending on the role and program. It’s important to note that the questions and scenarios posed here won’t necessarily be at the depth of senior or experienced data scientists. These programs are designed to support and teach associate data scientists the necessary skills to succeed in more technical roles later on, so, at this point, all they’re looking to assess is your thought process and whether or not you have the basic skills to succeed in the program.
Many times, new grad data scientists will receive a take-home challenge. Given the lack of prior work experience, this take-home is designed to filter out many candidates and find the data scientists that have either strong coding ability or strong analytical skills. The most common take-home challenges involve analyzing a dataset for trends.
Read more about passing data science take-home challenges here.
Final Interview (Behavioral)
Let’s say you pass all of the initial and technical screens with flying colors: what then? At this point, you’ve aptly demonstrated that you possess the technical knowledge needed to succeed in the role. It’s now a matter of assessing how you fit into the company culture and team environment, as well as what you specifically bring to the table with your ideas and experiences. Different companies emphasize different values, so dig deep into their background to better understand how to better approach your final interview.
For larger companies, this could be an all-day event where you rotate to interview with different panels and current data scientists working at the company.
Tips and Tricks
The majority of new graduate data scientist and associate data scientist programs are not expecting extensive work experience and a lot of projects under your belt right from the start– in fact, many of them are actually geared towards people without any work experience at all!
But beyond possessing the standard SQL, Python, and data analytics skills that 99% of the applicants for these programs have, you can help yourself stand out by engaging in projects and coursework that emphasize your interests and initiatives.
New Graduate Data Science Programs
The Technology Development Program gives new grad data scientists and current undergraduates the opportunity to work with the Data Analytics team at AT&T, either on a full-time rotational basis over the course of two years, or a shorter summer program. Members of the program learn the skills to transition to full-time, independent data analysts in a collaborative environment.
Cisco’s unique Apprenticeship Program offers a three year learning and working experience with different ‘rotations’ designed to prepare associate data scientists for their individual ‘major projects’. Most notably, this program offers significant exposure to a variety of self-selected fields and a built-in education component relating to the specialty of the particular apprenticeship.
Past graduates have benefited from the rotational nature of the program and longitudinal training periods.
One of the top educational companies in the world, Duolingo offers a variety of university programs in data science and engineering for new graduates. These programs are designed to offer associate data scientists a strong support system, including a paired mentor, and many opportunities for independent projects by collaborating with different teams across product, engineering, and marketing.
Past associate data scientists involved within the Duolingo University Program have been able to launch many individual projects and products– including creating podcasts, adding new languages to Duolingo’s product, and creating new educational features.
Expedia Group’s Early Career and Accelerators Program provides worldwide training and experience with various divisions, including the opportunity to develop further skills through educational bootcamps, departmental rotations, and 1:1 mentorship.
Facebook University offers an eight week Analytics program for undergraduate students looking for extensive exposure to the working environment at Facebook. Interns apply in their second year of study, and work to complete a major project while engaging in Analytics development training.
The New Analyst Program at Goldman Sachs is specifically designed for students graduating with a Bachelor’s or graduate degree with little to no work experience, and it provides valuable learning-on-the-job experience in multiple divisions.
In addition to a diverse selection of student internships, Google’s BOLD program places aspiring data scientists within gTech and other teams. Depending on the program and role, these undergraduates either work alongside full-time data scientists at Google, or develop their own long-term projects and initiatives.
Like other companies on this list, Lyft offers diverse new graduate programs and apprenticeships that fully integrate educational bootcamps with working alongside Lyft data scientists on real team projects.
Microsoft offers a wealth of student opportunities in data science and machine learning positions for both undergraduates and graduate students who are either in the process of obtaining or have obtained a degree. Beyond offering valuable work and learning experiences to associate data scientists, the company provides a wide breadth of data science roles for graduates, including specialized research.
Oracle has multiple student and graduate programs that offer new grad data scientists to work cross-functionally in different capacities, either as researchers or project developers, and on diverse product teams. With support from project supervisors and peer mentors, this program is specifically designed to offer new data scientists seeking hands-on industry experience in an environment that fosters curiosity and collaboration.
Paypal’s RCG (Recent College Graduates) Program exposes recently graduated undergraduates and graduate students interested in data science to business advising within Paypal’s Data & Analytics team. Especially focused on career support, Paypal offers industry and technological support for associate data scientists looking to build the start of their careers.
All of Uber’s graduate programs fall under the umbrella of University Student Careers, which “offers real-world experience within the confines of an environment that fosters mentorship and feedback.” Associate data scientists are able to work cross-functionally across various teams and departments within Uber’s product on a global scale.
Thanks for reading! If you're a new grad data scientist looking for more guidance on how to break into the field, be sure to check out our guide on Becoming a Data Scientist, designed for those new to data science.