Transitioning to Industry: Insight Data Fellows Program


by Jeremy B. Karnowski


21 October 2015

Prospective Ph.D. students often ask current graduate students about the possible career trajectories for graduates of the UCSD Cognitive Science program. We, along with our department as a whole, are always trying to stay on top of current developments and ensure that our studies (and our degree) are competitive in today's job market. For example, several of our graduate students have gone off to very exciting careers in tech fields, leveraging their technological skills and the concepts they have learned from courses and research in Cognitive Science:

  • Chris Fry, previously at Twitter
  • Jamie Alexandre and Richard Tibbles, Foundation for Learning Equality
  • Leo Trottier, CleverPet
  • Nicholas Butko, Google
  • Walter Talbott, Emotient
  • Josh Lewis, Ayasdi

A exciting recent trend in industry is the rapid growth of the data science sector, an area our graduate students are well equipped to enter. While well qualified, however, the soft skills and the language used in industry are often unfamiliar to recent graduate students and this makes it hard to navigate the job market. Additionally, spending years acquiring an academic network does not always translate to connecting with peers from a different professional network in new cities.

The Insight Fellows Program is designed to help this transition. I am nearing the end of this program and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in putting their skills to work in a non-academic setting. I spent the first four weeks doing an independent project to highlight how the tools and techniques I learned in the Cognitive Science department could be useful to companies. During this time, I was introduced to many of the top data science teams in the San Francisco Bay Area. After completing this project, I have been presenting my work at companies, which provides a way into the hiring process for many companies.
Insight Fellowship overview:

  • 7 week, full-time, tuition-free postdoctoral data science fellowship.
  • Need-based scholarships available to help cover living costs.
  • Self-directed, project-based learning under the guidance of top industry data scientists.
  • 400+ Insight alumni are now data scientists and data engineers at Facebook, New York Times, Apple, LinkedIn, Airbnb, Netflix, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Wall Street Journal, Uber, Bloomberg, NBC, ZocDoc, Oscar Health, Twitter, and 100+ other top companies.

Insight offers three distinct Fellowships: 

Data Science (New York City, Silicon Valley, and other cities in the US)
PhDs learn to develop data driven insights from the terabytes of information collected every day. A new remote session, designed for Fellows who are open to moving to a new city to begin their data science careers, includes teams in Seattle, LA, Austin, Chicago, DC, and other cities.

Data Engineering (New York City and Silicon Valley)
Engineers and computer scientists gain experience in cutting edge, open source big data technologies and best practices used in the tech industry. 

Health Data Science (Boston)
Quantitative MDs and PhDs develop data driven insights from rapidly increasing volumes and types of health data (genomics, medical records/claims, quantified self, etc). 

For more information, check out the links above and feel free to contact me (Jeremy Karnowski).

The Insight Fellows Program is now accepting applications for January 2016 sessions. The application deadline is October 26th.