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Conference Reflections Part 1: Open Data Science Conference East

My employer is amazing and in the last two months, they’ve allowed me to attend a lot of data science conferences and I thought I’d share some general reflections on my experiences.

Open Data Science Conference: A Great Value for New Comers

UnknownI gave two presentations this year at Open Data Science Conference (ODSC) East and I just wanted to put it out there that if you are new to data science or are just interested in learning more about data science, then ODSC is a really great venue to meet incredibly talented individuals as well as attend high quality technical talks.  The talks at ODSC tend to be more technical in nature than at Strata or other conferences and tend to be focused around practical skills.  This years talks included:

  • Turning Famous Words into Numbers:  Using Python to Quantify Rhetoric. (Emily Schumm, Booz Allen Hamilton)
  • Open Data for Social Good and Innovation (Kirk Borne, Booz Allen Hamilton)
  • Intro to Scikit-learn for Machine Learning:  (Andreas Mueller, Core Contributor to Sci-kit learn)
  • De-Siloing Data with Apache Drill:  (Me:  Booz Allen Hamilton)
  • Hadoop Hands On: (David Whitehouse, Cloudera)
  • Data Visualization for the Non-Designer: (Todd Lombardo, Fresh Tilled Soil)

What’s more is that ODSC is from Friday-Sunday and depending on when you buy the tickets, only costs between $250-$569.  They also have a very reasonable student rate.  If you view this as a training event, you would be hard pressed to find a better value for your money.  All the talks I attended were really outstanding.  I’m not paid by ODSC, nor did they ask me to write anything about the event, but if you are interested in learning more about data science and your company doesn’t have the budget to spend thousands of dollars on training, you should definitely check out ODSC.

There’s hope for the gender imbalance in data science

One of the big issues right now is the apparent lack of women in tech and by extension data science.  This imbalance is usually very apparent at large tech conferences.  At ODSC, I looked at the speaker bios and counted 16 women out of about 100 presenters.  More importantly however, is that women were well represented in the audience.  (And no… I didn’t go to ODSC to check out women, I’m married thank you very much)  I view conferences as a way to see what the future will bring in field and the bottom line is that if ODSC East is a glimpse into the future of data science, than it does appear to me by virtue of the fact that a decent number of women are attending ODSC and seeking to learn more about data science, there will be progress in correcting the gender imbalance in the tech/data science industry in the years to come.  Let’s hope…

Looking for work? Looking to Hire? Go to ODSC

All conferences have some sort of vendor expo where companies show off their latest big-data lake SQL analytics on Hadoop in the cloud. (Did I get all the buzzwords?)   However, from my observations, most of the booths were really focused on recruiting rather than selling some new whiz-bang tool, so if you’re looking to speak directly with companies seeking to hire data scientists, ODSC is the place to be.  I saw Zillow, Facebook, McKinsey, and many other solid companies were there at ODSC recruiting.

In conclusion, if you are new to data science and are looking to learn a lot or looking for a job, you should definitely check out the ODSC events.  The next one is in Santa Clara in November.  Who knows.. I may even be there!

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