February 7, 2021

Dealing with society's unrealistic data scientist standards

Have you heard about the recent groundbreaking achievements in NLP? Wow, you have to read this paper... Everyone is talking about this woman/man in AI.

If reading headlines like these stress you out, you're not alone.

I used to think that I had to read, listen to and learn about all of the latest achievements and developments as soon as they came out.

It is a stressful affair, trying to keep up with AI and data science. The field is evolving very fast and new things come out nearly everyday.

Being exposed to online platforms and social media, in general, could make you feel like an impostor. You might be left thinking;

"Oh, I don't read enough",

"I don't know enough about this new algorithm",

"I need to read up on this new approach",

"Everyone knows about it except me"

This is your reminder to give yourself a break from it.

Things get hyped up and things get forgotten. You really don't need to know it or even know about it all.

Let me put it this way;

You don't have to be a data science geek to be a successful data scientist.

You need to learn as much as you need to do your job well. After that, it is personal interest. If you like reading about AI in your free time, go ahead, that's great for you. But if you like to play video games, if you like to go on walks, work out or weave baskets, these are all acceptable things for data scientists to do too.

This whole idea that data scientists must always keep up with the recent happening in the field reminds me of society's unrealistic beauty standards. Instead, it is "community's unrealistic data scientist standards". Don't let people guilt you into feeling bad about how you spend your non-working time and how much you read up on the latest news.

After all, the value of a data scientist is having a solid understanding of the field and being able to learn new things relatively fast. It is not knowing everything by heart at the starting line.