Big Data is good for physicists, who are good for Big Data

The “Moving out of Academia to… Big Data” event held at CERN on 21 September was the second in a series that kicked off in June. It brought together about 150 alumni or soon-to-be alumni to obtain first-hand information from the panellists (all CERN Alumni) on how to prepare for a career move to the field of Big Data.

Big Data is virtually everywhere: in physics, of course, but also in the medical and pharmaceutical fields, in finance as well as travel and communication. The trend for data scientists is quite positive as techniques such as machine learning and artificial intelligence are growing rapidly. The field is therefore highly attractive to people with an experience working at CERN. However, as the speakers pointed out during the seminar, the landscape is changing for physicists: up to a few years ago, they were basically the only ones dealing with Big Data, but today the academic world offers dedicated diplomas and higher education in this field. Therefore, research scientists who plan their career move now need first to clarify for themselves what type of job they want and which type of company they would want to work for. Once they have done so, they have to prepare the “jump” carefully, which includes writing a dedicated CV that takes into account the needs of the private sector and also markets the skills acquired in academia using the language employed at companies.

These and other tips were thoroughly presented by the five speakers, who also engaged in active discussions with the members of the audience. They presented their own career moves as examples of successful transitions and described their typical day at work, discussed how to prepare for interviews and shared what kind of challenges a newcomer should expect from this sector. You can find a comprehensive summary of the discussions here, and the full recording of the event here.

The event was also an opportunity for everybody to network, which is one of the main scopes of the CERN Alumni Network. With over 3600 members, it is becoming the ideal place to share job and training opportunities, news and updates, tips and advice.

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