The tech industry is continuously increasing and companies are collecting more consumer data than ever. As a result the fields of data science and analytics are rapidly growing to meet the pressing demand. There doesn’t seem to be a bad time to get training and transition to those fields,. Join the ranks of industry professionals doing what they love.

If you’re looking to get started with a career in tech you’ll soon find yourself at crossroads. How you should gain the necessary skills and competencies to qualify for roles as a data scientist?

Just as the fields themselves are growing, so are the institutions offering related training. These institutions range from well-established universities to online bootcamps to unique mentorship programs such as those offered by Lantern.

Here we’ll breakdown what each type has to offer, with respect to data science. We’ll explore how they stack up against each other.

Universities

Starting with universities, they are typically the first option that comes to mind when you’re thinking of learning new concepts and pursuing a career in a new field.

Since they are well-established they have a reputation that precedes them. The courses offered by universities are held to a quasi-universal standard that most employers and industries recognize.

For programs and courses that have been around for decades and are heavily valued in academia, this benefit is nearly unrivaled.

However, the drawbacks of university programs are that they are slow to adapt and very academically oriented. This means that when it comes to fast-changing, hands-on, and tech-oriented subjects, such as data science and analytics, they aren’t always the best first choice.

In terms of data science programs offered by universities, they are typically packaged as Master’s degrees. This means the programs follow a similar structure as well.

A second major drawback of university data science programs is that they are substantial financial and time investments that offer little guarantees of job-readiness. Most Master’s require 1.5-2 years to complete and cost upwards of $25k. Furthermore, these programs are almost entirely course-based, leaving off many important skills that prospective professionals need.

MOOCs

MOOCs, or Massive Open Online Courses, are effectively a twig that has fallen from the tree that is universities. By that I mean MOOCs are typically simplified or adapted versions of university courses offered through massive online platforms. They do a fantastic job of making higher education more widely available. But they don’t compare to the programs offered by the others listed in this article. Nevertheless, I include this section for them to show where they stand.

The strengths of MOOCs are that they are derived from well-established university courses. They are offered at low costs (and can typically be audited for free). This makes them ideal for professionals who are looking to pick up one or two new skills. Or for beginners who want to test their interest in a new field before committing to a proper program.

The major drawback of these courses is that employers don’t value them as substitutes to full programs. Even if a candidate has earned the certificates. Given the competitiveness of the data science industry and the project focus, MOOCs are given low priority consideration.

Furthermore, MOOCs suffer the same plight as university programs. Namely, they are too far detached from the industry and don’t fully provide industry related experience.

Bootcamps

Coding and data science training bootcamps are a growing section of the education sector. Many companies are rising up to fill the gaps left between the rapidly expanding tech industry and the lagging university programs.

The data science programs offered by bootcamps are more viable options for those looking to get an introduction to the field. Bootcamps typically benefit over Master’s programs. They are designed from the ground up to provide training in tools and skills that transfer directly to industry jobs.

Bootcamp programs are much shorter, generally requiring only 3-6 months to complete at half the expense of Master’s programs.

The shortcomings of these bootcamps is that they are too short for their own good. They focus too heavily on the same course-based format that isn’t designed by experienced industry professionals. The limited time-frame of the programs transfers to students only having surface level understanding of the skills and tools covered.

Additionally, students who complete bootcamp programs have often developed new skills but still lack hands-on experience from a personal project. Relevant experience and hands-on work is valued extremely highly in the tech and data industry. And it will greatly affect your hireability.

Mentorships

The idea of mentorship is nothing new. But in the past finding good mentors was difficult and quite exclusive to those who were well connected. Professional mentorships programs are now rising up to bring this elite education type to a wider audience. Lantern Institute is one among very few pioneers offering this type of program. Particularly in regards to data science, software development, and quantitative finance.

These programs offer something that is sorely missing from bootcamps and Master’s programs. Namely, tutelage and direct guidance from experienced senior professionals in the fields.

Lantern’s mentorship programs are designed for those who already have some fundamental technical knowledge. Those who are looking for job-like experience and training that will make them hireable and aid them in their career.

Students undertake unique projects that simulate industry work. This is done under the direction of mentors who are professionals in the data science industry. The projects allow students to develop meaningful skills in applied ways and gain proper understanding of concepts and their uses. Furthermore, the close relationship between mentors and the students is ideal for this scenario. It means the students can also get career coaching and guidance on soft skills and industry details beyond course materials. As a result, graduates of the programs are far more job-ready and hirable. Especially in contrast to if they had just taken courses or copied generic online projects.

Some students may still need to learn some fundamental skills before advancing to a mentorship. Lantern offers introductory courses that are fast-tracked to get them ready.

Lantern’s fundamental courses run 2-3 months and the mentorships themselves vary from 5 to 10 months. This is dependent on the projects that mentors and students decide on. The rates for this are very competitive and allow students flexibility of different financing options to fit their situation.

The cost of these mentorship programs typically range around $10k. Financing options available that allow students to defer payment until they secure jobs. Institutions offering this option are effectively providing a vote of confidence in their programs. They are sure students will be ready for the job market.

Overall, mentorships provide a much more focused and proven training experience. This is ideal for anyone hoping to grow a career in the industry.

Are you interested in joining a Lantern Institute program? Head on over to the programs page to see what Lantern has to offer. Still skeptical? Good! That’s a key mindset to have when it comes to data analysis and science! You can also book a consultation to have your questions answered.

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