A Change of Direction

In this post: a brief summary of what I got up to, work-wise, in 2016 and my plans for a rather different 2017. The short version: it’s goodbye bioinformatics and hello educational data science!

It feels as though 2016 was a challenging year for many people in various ways. My year was no exception. I spent the first 6 months working as a data scientist for a healthcare technology startup. It was a new, different and very enjoyable experience. However, a change in the focus of their business resulted in my redundancy mid-way through the year.

I took some time out, then began applying for jobs. I received a lot of support during my “time off”, including offers of short-term work and assistance with enquiries about remote working possibilities. You know who you are and I am very grateful. All of those people I have met over the years through my online networks: some I now know in person, others not. I hope this illustrates one very real way in which those networks are valuable and I really appreciate that people would think to reach out to me in this way.

After several months and many applications, I was offered a role as a contract data scientist with the Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation. They are part of the New South Wales government Department of Education and you can read about their mission here. I’ve always had a general interest in education and I helped out with a little project on student evaluation a few years ago. So it is not entirely a new field for me and I’m excited about applying my skills to some new, interesting and genuinely-important problems.

I also resumed writing (semi-) regular blog posts during the latter part of 2016. WordPress are not generating their annual reports this year. To be honest, this is no great loss and the fact that “It basically takes a team working all of December to get those reports generated and sent out in time” rather suggests that they are doing it all wrong anyway. So I will simply note that I managed 6 posts in the second half of the year and again I thank R-bloggers for the attention that they received.

Will I be blogging in 2017? It’s difficult to say. I’m going to be busy, both at and outside of work. Clearly if I continue with this blog on this platform, it is no longer going to be about bioinformatics or computational biology. So I shall have to decide whether to continue writing and if so, whether to do so here with a change of focus, or start afresh somewhere else. You’ll be the first to know :)
That said, the last few months have generated a lot of thoughts: about coping with unemployment, looking for jobs, rebranding as a data scientist, switching careers and leaving scientific research. I know a few lost souls come here hoping for career advice, so perhaps those thoughts are worth sharing.

Thanks for reading and my best wishes to everyone for the year ahead.

3 thoughts on “A Change of Direction

  1. Congratulations on the new role, Neil. Hope you enjoy the change of scenery.

    Thanks for all your posts. I hope the blog is something you can (and want to) continue as the year unfolds, in some form.

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