How one data scientist turns ideas into reality

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As the demand for analytical skills continues to grow and the data scientist has been catalogued as the sexiest job of the 21st century, more and more students are showing interest in the analytics and big data world.

We asked one of our graduates to share her experiences working as a data scientist and useful tips about getting SAS Certification, so as to offer advice to future graduates.

Loredana Cornea is a SAS Associate Technical Consultant within the Data Science team (part of the Professional Services Department) following the 2015 Graduate Programme. Her responsibilities encompass data analysis and model developing for customers in various areas.

What is your role at SAS?

My job involves offering consulting services to businesses with a large range of activities, from marketing to banking to cybersecurity. Basically, a client has an idea that they want to implement but doesn’t know how. Once it's determined the implementation is possible, my job is to make that idea a reality.

What are the skills that your role requires?

This job requires an intense training programme in methodology and software use, as well as social and communication skills for dealing with a client and working in a team (as tension tends to build very fast), adaptability to new environments and time management skills.

How did you first come across SAS?

SAS software wasn’t a stranger to me before working at SAS. I used it during my second year of a master's. All my projects were in Base SAS: credit scoring modelling, time series modelling, financial econometrics, quantitative marketing and many others. I liked it even then because once you got to understand how the syntax worked and how much free documentation was available from the internet on procedures and functions I needed to use, it was easy and fast to code. The documentation was especially helpful, as it covered even the theoretical part behind the code. After first using it, it took me four months to fully understand how it worked and pass the Base SAS Certification.

Why did you choose to work for SAS?

My career goal was to work with data at a high level, and once I discovered SAS software and the things you could do with it, I knew it would be an amazing opportunity to be a part of the SAS community.

Do you have some tips and tricks for students and graduates who are planning take SAS Certification?

Well, I passed several SAS Certifications. But for those interested in starting with the Base SAS Programming, I recommend the SAS Certification Prep Guide. It’s a very thick book and often on sale at the Learning Centre in Marlow or online from the SAS website. It has the theory explained very well and each chapter has a test.

Also take the free SAS Programming 1 e-course and check out the free SAS tutorials; these resources really are going to help you. The preparation period will take you two full weeks approximately.

The questions are formulated in such a way that if you don’t pay attention, you’ll choose the wrong answer. For that reason I recommend a lot of practice. It is not a test of your understanding of SAS, but rather of knowing the glitches of programming (for example defining a character variable as $4 will give you completely different results than $4. If the length of the character variable varies).

Can you tell us about your job application process and any useful tips that you would recommend to future applicants?

After the idea to be part of SAS simmered in my mind for some time, I decided to take my chance and apply. I was contacted several months later and passed two interviews. The first one was an automated, timed video interview with four questions that I knew nothing about beforehand. I think the aim was to surprise you and generate an honest and spontaneous response. There was only one or maybe two minutes to prepare your answer, after which you had to respond in two minutes. The key is to remind yourself to be calm, avoid too much detail in your response and the most important thing: Give a personal touch to your answer and NEVER replay the video before sending it because you’re going to hate it. The second interview was with my present manager, and he asked me about my experience in data analysis and what I liked about it.

What is the SAS working environment like?

I have had feedback since I started working here, and people tell me my most important assets are my involvement and passion for my job. But that’s because I very much like being here and doing what I’m doing. The people are friendly and supportive. Lots of employees are seniors who have been working here for 10, 15, and 20 years or more. It feels like a big family.

SAS Analytics U: UK & Ireland provides a direct line between DATA SCIENCE students learning SAS and leading SAS customers. Therefore, we have supported The SAS / UCL Big Data Skills Portal, where you can register and apply for short- and long-term placements or entry-level positions.

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About Author

Mayra Pedraza

Associate Briefing Program Specialist, Marketing Executive Mayra is a Marketing Specialist for the Academic Programme at SAS UK, she develops the brand awareness across the whole UK & Ireland student community. She joined SAS in January 2016 as an intern. Mayra manages the UK Academic social media platforms to share ideas and support other SAS users, she also creates events and sessions which contribute to engage more students into the analytics world.

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