Why Data Science?

It may seem odd to some that someone who has spent the past 10 years working primarily as a personal fitness trainer would pursue a transition into the world of data science. You may find it even more strange after learning that I also have not received much formal education in mathematics or computer science. Yet, I’d be willing to wager that by the time you finish reading this post, data science will seem like the natural next step in a man’s mission to do some good in this world.

First, I’d like to get something out of the way…

There’s a great deal of buzz about data science and machine learning these days. Neural nets and support vector machines are buzz phrases percolating in the heart of pop sci culture. “Data scientist” is one of the most in-demand jobs on the market. But none of these are reasons why anyone should want to be a data scientist.

One day the buzz will wear off and a new field will be “hot”. But my path has never been about following trends. It is about improving the course of the future.

Beyond the Buzz

I have always been driven by a strong desire to do something meaningful in this world. I want to have a positive impact on as many lives as I possibly can. This is what originally steered me toward personal training and corrective exercise. It is what made me fill dozens of notebooks with ideas on how to change the world of fitness.

My quest to learn more about fitness took me deep into the heart of science. I worked through some self-study in biology and chemistry before a dive into the exciting world of physics. One day, a few years ago, I realized something that shocked the very nature of my being.

I actually enjoyed science.

The Love of Challenge

What was even more surprising than the fact that I was enjoying learning studying things that I used to find boring was that the more challenging my studies got, the more I enjoyed the process.

For the past two or three years, I’ve worked on and off building an app to track my clients progress. During that time, I also built my own blog (not this one) from scratch and played around with a few other side programming projects. It was during this time that I started to discover my love of programming.

But it wasn’t really programming that I loved.

And it wasn’t really science that I enjoyed.

My true passion—for lack of a better word—was in exploring my curiosity and solving challenging problems, and opportunities for both happen to be abundant in the scientific and programming worlds.

But Why Data Science?

After reading Ashlee Vance’s biography of Elon Musk, I felt inspired to do something at the nexus of programming and science that could have a positive impact on the future of humanity. Again, I filled up several notebooks with ideas. It was during this brainstorming process that I discovered machine learning as a potential method for making some of my ideas a reality.

So, naturally, I decided to learn more about machine learning. As many other have before me, my first taste of machine learning was Andrew Ng’s Coursera course. It wasn’t long into the course that I realize that this was something that would be a big part of my future.

It was during my research into ways to learn machine learning that I began to explore the broader field of data science. And while I still had a bit of a thirst for building my own vision from the ground up, I realized that I might actually be able to be a part of something even bigger by joining a team of people united behind a great vision.

Data science naturally attracted me because it is inherently creative. There isn’t one right way to do things. It’s a combination of detective work, math, programming, and art. There are plenty of choices for solving problems, and at times the problems themselves can require creativity to identify and explore. I cannot think of a more exciting way to spend my time.

As excited as I was to embark on a journey into the world of data science, I was faced with a harsh reality of knowing that I did not have any formal mathematical or programming experience. This would make it rather difficult to get any meaningful data science job.

As you will learn in my next post, this problem is what led me to Metis. The bridge between this story and the beginning of the Metis bootcamp is something I hope others can learn from, so I hope you will take the time to read it. ~