Coming Full Circle: From IBM Data Science Professional Certificate to IBM Internship

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Coming Full Circle: From IBM Data Science Professional Certificate to IBM Internship

Sarah is a senior at Louisiana State University who knew she wanted to find her way from food service into a data science career. In her words, she shares how she gained hands-on experience that fast-tracked her path into data science in less than 6 months.

When I started the IBM Data Science Professional Certificate, I was a manager in food service. I knew I wanted to break into analytics and felt like courses on Coursera were the perfect way to start. After completing IBM Data Science Professional Certificate program in less than a month, I’m thrilled to say that I’ve gotten many internship interviews which led to some incredible opportunities. In fact, I recently completed an internship in analytics at a non-profit, and am currently working as a data science intern at an industrial sales company. The IBM Data Science Professional Certificate helped fast track my technical skills and professional development, allowing me to completely transition into analytics.

Coming full circle, I interned as a data specialist at IBM this past summer!

A lot of the course content was new to me.  I had taken courses in statistics and SQL in my undergraduate program, but not in Python or any core data science concepts. The Professional Certificate taught me a lot of valuable skills in my industry, gave me hands-on experience, and not only helped me get interviews but also gave me projects to discuss in those interviews. I was introduced to Python, which I now use daily in my work. I’ve also been able to build off of what I’ve learned along with the problem-solving approach that IBM introduced.

In my current role, I love that I’m able to build information tools that help others in their jobs. The impact of my work is immediately visible, and allows me to support others in their work process. I learned a lot at IBM, both about myself and the industry. I was also able to focus on my programming and machine learning skills, as well as develop deep learning skills over the summer, which was a cool extension of what I did in the Professional Certificate.

Completing the IBM Data Science Professional Certificate over winter break really set me apart, and boosted my career. I tell all of my undergrad peers to take a Professional Certificate or Specialization on Coursera to get a leg up in the internship market. Spending my winter break completing this program was the best possible thing I could have done for my career. 

Some words of advice:

I would advise students to make small, easy to achieve goals. Data Science can feel infinitely vast and intimidating to a beginner (even I feel overwhelmed when approaching new tools or concepts), but the key is to break the task or goal into bite-sized steps. The only way to run a marathon is one step at a time, learning Data Science can feel like a marathon, but if you take it step by step, you’ll get there just fine.


Sarah hopes to be a data scientist that works with customer behavioral data after she graduates. Understanding why people make decisions, and more importantly having the data to explain their behaviors, is fascinating to her and she hopes to work in a customer analytics, UX, marketing tech, or a law enforcement team. She’s also interested in applying to the University of Michigan’s Masters of Applied Data Science program, which has exciting courses on behavior and social network analysis.


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