Why Your Startup Needs to Hire a Data Science Intern
November 30, 2023
Data is everywhere. To succeed as a startup, you need someone that can collect, clean, and understand that data.
Though you may think your team isn't ready to hire a senior-level data expert, it's always helpful to assess your needs early. That's where an intern may be helpful.
Large companies like Amazon, Netflix, and Uber all hired data scientists on the journey to dominating their respective industries. They were early to the party but in 2023, data is king. According to the Harvard Business Review, "data scientist" has become “the sexiest job in the 21st century”.
But "sexy" jobs are often expensive and startups have to keep their budgets lean. So why should you invest in a data intern, and how can you find one?
Why do I need a data scientist?
Unless your business is incredibly tiny and produces very little data, data scientists are a must-have for every business, regardless of headcount, profit, and growth stage. Here’s why:
Creating relevant products and services
Every successful business puts the needs of the customer first, and exists to answer the pain points of their audience.
A data scientist can help ensure that your product or service is audience-aligned and effective. Through analytics and business intelligence, a data scientist can comb through large chunks of customer information to inform your business offerings.
The choices businesses make early on can change the course of a company for better or for worse. That’s why data-driven decisions are the best way to go.
A comprehensive understanding of data can improve decision making about budget allocation and strategic direction.
Analytics tools have given us more marketing data than ever before. Daily visitors, conversions, browse time, SERP placement, and more can be easily tracked with Google Analytics.
Data science interns can track data against your Key Performance Indicators and identify what is and is not working. Do email marketing campaigns work best to close deals? Should we include more images on our website? Is social media driving traffic and improving site metrics?
Is my business ready for data science?
Are you ready to bring someone on board and tackle some meaningful projects? Here are some questions to ask yourself if you’re considering hiring a part-time data science intern.
How important is data to your company?
If you still view data collection and analysis as a luxury and not a necessity for your startup, it's probably best to hold off on hiring a full-time data employee or intern.
Data talent should be brought on to help improve business growth and operations, but only if it can be integrated into your company systems and culture.
Can you provide them with resources?
For data folks to operate effectively, they must be given unfettered access to company information, platforms, tools, appropriate budgets, cross-departmental input and consultation, and standard operating procedures.
Kaggle surveyed more than 7,000 data scientists about their challenges. The most significant were not related to technical issues. The main challenges were:
lack of management/financial support
lack of clear questions to answer
results not used by decision-makers
difficulty explaining data science to others
To make the most of your data scientist, you need to set them up for success. Know that data takes time to understand so give them the breathing room to work.
Why you should hire an intern
Internships allow you to affordably invest in someone that could be an amazing long term asset.
An internship becomes a talent test-drive of sorts. It helps you see the skills and competencies of your potential hires. An interview session can only reveal so much, but once you see them on the job, you’ll have a better perspective.
Many companies recruit interns as entry-level hires, and rightly so. They are usually acclimatized to your culture and how your business works, which reduces learning curve and saves time during onboarding. Having a strong internship program means your company has a strong talent pipeline.
Internships also allow you to determine which existing team members exhibit strong interest and abilities as managers or department leads.
Where to find a data science intern
Finding a data science intern can be a tricky task. While there are many platforms dedicated to sourcing interns, finding a good fit is often not an easy venture. Here are some tips to help you find the data science intern you need.
Reach out to communities
There is a large population of data scientists in various online communities. The single biggest data scientist community is probably Kaggle.
You can also find talent by searching for "data science" users on a professional platform like LinkedIn. Some of these users may be a part of formal networking groups that you can contact, as well. Many tech candidates use Slack communities and Discord servers to discuss their work and career opportunities.
Don't forget about your own community in the search. Leverage your connections to see if somebody knows an interested candidate.
Post on a job board
Traditional job boards like Indeed can give you the farthest reach. However, getting more specialized is probably a better approach.
Kaggle has their own job board which is active. WayUp focuses specifically on college students and internships. AngelList is known for startups so you can find candidates ready for that lifestyle. Decide on what's important to you and you can think pick one from the many options.
Even after you publish an open role, do a little research. How strong were the candidates you vetted? Do you need more experienced people? Were the interns' expectations aligned with your business? If one job board isn't working, try another.
Whether you're seeking an intern or full-time employee, the Prentus team can support you. Find and hire actively seeking tech talent across hundreds of talent partners and get 4x the response rate from candidates that actually fit your needs.
Prentus offers a job board, candidate management and talent discovery tools, and events.
To get started, just create a Free Company Profile by syncing your company's LinkedIn profile, start partnering with Prentus Communities that meet your criteria, and start sharing internship roles, attending events, and requesting interviews with candidates.
Interns at Prentus come from the top bootcamp programs around the United States. They are job-ready and highly motivated to improve your company. Plus, they can get to work almost immediately.
On the topic of data, it is worthless without someone to understand it. Most people should be "citizen data scientists" these days but the methods a specialist has are invaluable. Even as a junior in the field, a data science intern knows those methods and can apply them.
Ultimately, the choice is yours. Leverage your data to beat the competition or watch as they fly past you.
Hey, I'm Rod Danan. I'm Founder and CEO of Prentus where we match startups with a job-ready tech intern in as little as 7 days. I understand internships and especially data science internships. Feel free to email me with any questions at email@example.com.