Scientists often already have essential data science skills.
It can be hard to see, but when you're at a PhD level or higher you have likely worked with data. However, data scientists have their own way to describe these skills. Essential skills at that.
Here's a translation guide for three top skills in data science.
#1 Exploratory Data Analysis
Fancy name right? I know.
In the end this skill is simply exploring the data through basic statistical analysis and visualization. If you're a scientist that has worked with data you have likely done this. Let me give a tangible example to illustrate:
When I worked with seismic data, I would have a look at some statistics, like the minimum and maximum of my data. I'd look at outliers and plot the data to take an initial look. Additionally, I'd look at the general distribution of values within my dataset to get a good feel what I'm dealing with. In seismic you often have missing data at very specific points in the data that give important information.
In an interview this gives you an opportunity to expand on the exploration you've done with your data.
#2 Data cleaning
In the applied sciences particularly you have seen messy data.
Whether it's survey data in the social sciences, cell cultures in biology, or those messy little particles at CERN. Scientists have often dealt with data with noise, skew and high cardinality.
Cleaning and preparing data is a great skill in data science.
Many imagine scientists as gremlins in lab coats.
But I've written tens of reports in papers and technical reports. I held presentations online and offline to hundreds of people and empty rooms. I held stakeholder meetings between my faculty, supervisors and sponsor companies, making compromises and selling ideas while incorporating "regulations" from the university.
Help people understand what you've actually done in your research!
Represent yourself well
Self-image can be funny in science.
Scientists have developed great skills that are often taken for granted. I had a recruiter ask me "if I had done some self-directed projects" after finishing my PhD. People simply don't know.
Learning to translate your experience to layman's language will propel you forward.