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How to start a statistical career for a graduate when everywhere is asking for years of experiences?

Hello everyone,

My name is Rachel, who just joined AnalyticBridge. I am wondering if anyone could give me some advice on starting my statistical career as a graduate when most of the jobs are asking for years of experiences.

I have graduated with a Master of Science in Medical Statistics with First Class Honours in 2008 at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, and have moved to Sacramento in June, 2008 (Green card holder). I have great interest in statistical analysis and programming. I would like to continue working in an area that involves statistics.

I have been filing applications for jobs online. Unfortunately, they all ask for years of experience that I don't have as a graduate. It seems like there is no way for a graduate to get a job. I am wondering whether the way I search for jobs or file applications is not appropriate or sufficient. If you don't mind giving me some suggestions, that will be of great help!

Thanks so much!

Rachel

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Comment by Ayush Biyani on May 13, 2011 at 10:42am

Hi Rachel, I can fully understand your situation. Because I was in this situation some 1 yr back. You still have a Medical stats degree. I just had a BTech in Computer Science from a reputed Institute in India. I would just tell you what I did. I wont say you'd get success but I can only say that I did this.

1)  Since I didnt have any formal detailed course in statistics I went and read statistics.

2)  I heard that econometrics was at the root of statistical modeling so bought a book of Gujarati( a good writer in India ) and started equipping myself with the concepts of regression.

3) approached innumerable firms explaining them how was I better than rest of the mediocre stats graduate in India without a formal degree in stats ( just by my confidence)

4) since I had experience in software when I started trying for analytics, I started learning SAS and tried reading programs and learning syntax.

5) went to the analytics companies websites and read their case studies and explained myself that this case could be solved by the techniques I know..If I found a new word in the case studies , I went to the net and tried reading about it.

6) explained myself to prepare for an interview that most of the things that are done to solve such  business problems involve some amount of common sense and a decent command over maths.

 

7) last but not the least, approached infinites start ups to take me.

 

feel free to write me at [email protected] in case of any help you need.

Comment by Will on December 16, 2010 at 9:48am
Have you thought about being an actuary for a health insurance company? Data mining medical records is at the heart of that role.

This is a position that remains in demand and regularly hires college grads as 'Student Actuaries'. Your main obstacle would be passing at least one Society of Actuaries entrance exam. They are challenging, but the first exam is on Proabability, a topic which should be relatively fresh in your mind. If you've got any questions, let me know.

Best,
Will
Comment by Donovan Johnson on December 13, 2010 at 1:01pm

Every employer is looking for someone with education, certifiable technical skills, and experience. 2 out of the 3 usually keeps you competitive. 1 out of the 3 usually keeps you hunting for a job.

 

One phrase - BI.  If you're a statistician with little to no programming skills right now and no work experience, you in a tough spot.  Lots of companies are looking for people with a specific skill, not just an general education in that area.  Why? Because most firms don't like paying for a traditional training program - at least until they're sure you're worth keeping.  

So if you have Medical Statistics background, SAS, SPSS, or Cognos might be a good skill to pickup and or perfect. Even a MCITP: Business Intelligence wouldn't be horrible, though less helpful in staying close to a true Analyst/Statistician roll.  If you have one or more of those skills, you should be emphasizing that. So much so that you have to run the risk [as someone has said already] of ending up in the IT department, rather than Analytics.  This is ok, so long as it is only with this first employer.

 

Next, the following industry sites are your new favorite places on the web:
http://healthit.hhs.gov/portal/server.pt/community/healthit_hhs_gov...

http://www2.healthmetrics.org/Extranet/95542/forms.aspx?msgid=2lv13...

https://www.amia.org/

http://www.himss.org/ASP/index.asp

 

Once you're networking amongst proven professionals and you can bring a technical skill to the table in conjunction with your education, you are now a candidate that is potentially more valuable than someone currently in place.  Why? Because even if they pay you the same salary, you have a technical skill that is likely to increase your productivity. This becomes hard to argue with unless a current candidate or employee has a great deal more experience.

Comment by Georgette Asherman on April 18, 2009 at 9:28pm
Some federal jobs may allow green card holders. I know California is having problems but you could try state jobs since you are in Sacramento. Also there are probably a lot of quasi--governmental research groups in that area. If you can leave Sacramento, move west to the Bay area where there are more jobs openeings.

I don't know your personal history but in general recent graduates don't know how to look for jobs. Going on-line to mass job boards is not the way. I got a phone call like this about a year ago. I asked the guy if he had contacted the American Statistical Association. He said no. They do recruiting at their conference in August (this year in Washington, DC) and sometimes list entry level jobs. Networking through a site like this is good too. Try spreading your network in Linked-In and find marketing or pharmaceutical professionals Also emphasize your technical skills rather than your academic background. Try contract research organizations (CROs). You could try clinical programming if that is of interest. But if you become a programmer in a drug company with a statistics degree they might not think of you as a statistician anymore. The smaller companies will let you take on both roles. You might want to take a 'data manager' type position on a medical or social research project that is funded with grant money. I got a job like this when I was still in grad school. After a year it opened up doors to industry.
Comment by Vincent Granville on April 13, 2009 at 2:46pm
Census Bureau requires US citizenship though. Not sure if it applies to junior positions.
Comment by Elaine Eisenbeisz on April 13, 2009 at 12:27pm
Apply for positions with the government. They often take new graduates. Perhaps the Veteran's Administration or the National Institute of Health? The census bureau too if you are so inclined. Also, try some recruiters. Yes, many take only seasoned people, but the more you get yourself out there the more opportunities you have to be "discovered" I always see a company in AMSTAT, Smith and Hanley I think...and I associate with a couple of recruiters. If you want to send a copy of your resume to me I can forward it and also give you some contacts to try.

I can't think of a better education choice than statistics. Demand is quite high for us good ones :)
Comment by Rachel on April 9, 2009 at 1:20pm
Thanks a lot for the suggestions. Hopefully, I could get something soon.

I have done my study in Auckland, New Zealand. Thus, my former professors are in there,not in States:-(.
Comment by John Johnson on April 2, 2009 at 5:59am
You should continue applying for entry level jobs. Sometimes, you will find someone willing to take a recent graduate even though the job description says 2 years of experience. (I couldn't say this about all markets.) Also, connections always help -- do one of your former professors have colleagues that need help in a lab? A personal referral goes a long way. Finally, persevere.

When you do get your job, try to stick with it for at least a year, or better yet two unless there is a very good reason not to. Become a sponge and learn everything you can, and put in the extra effort to stay. That way, you won't have this problem again.
Comment by Rachel on March 23, 2009 at 3:34pm
Haha, good point. Too young for them :-).

A different country? I am not sure about that. Most companies don't sponsor a visa for employees as far as I know. If they do, they are likely to just sponsor someones with years of experiences for a visa, not a graduate like me! :-(

Some companies do have graduate program or internship. But these are for current, local students. I have filed applications for some internship. Unfortunately, they never got me back! Maybe they are not comfortable my overseas education?? No idea!
Comment by Rachel on March 17, 2009 at 1:49pm
Thanks for the comment, Vincent.
I have tried to file applications for internships. But the positions are available for current students, not a graduate like me.

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