4 Way to Build Your Business Knowledge for Data Science Job

business is the most important aspect of the job


Cornellius Yudha Wijaya

3 years ago | 6 min read

Photo by Tyler Franta on Unsplash

I am a true believer for any job position you have; you would always need to understand what your company is selling, AKA the business. You are hired within the company to improve the business process, after all.

When you are applying for any job in the industry, it is all about understanding the position that you are applying for and what kind of business the company is running.

This applies to the data scientist job, as well. Having the business knowledge for the company you are applying to would boost your chance to get that data science job.

Imagine a situation where you are a fresher in the data field and found out that your competition has the same skillset as you.

How did you stand out compared to the rest then? This is where the business knowledge coming in — the company would prefer to have better business knowledge. That is why I never suggest people massively applying for the job — you need to tailor your application to the job requirements.

The big question is: “How to get this business experience as a fresh graduate or newbie in the data field?”. This article is written to answer this question so let’s get started.

1. Specific Data Science Project

What is a better way to show your data science capability other than showing the product of your data science project? You are hired because you could solve the business problem by using your project, after all.

Although, your first initial thought about the Data Science project is all about showing all the technical skills you had. No, it would be best if you work smarter than that.

While it is fun to work on machine learning such as the NLP project, Time Series project, Image Recognition, and such — have you consider the project you are working on would help the company you would try to enter? If not, then try to change the mindset.

As I mentioned above, technical skill is required, but you are hired because your skill could solve the business problem. That is why it is always better to create a data science project to solve the business problem.

For example, you are applying for a job position as a Data Scientist in the Insurance business — is your project for image recognition appropriate to the business they run? Probably not, right?. How about if you create a credit scoring project? Now, this is a much more suitable project to show into the Insurance company.

Maybe you would think, how would I understand the business they run by working on this data science project? Well, this is your job to do some research.

I would not pamper you and say that what you need to do is create some data science project suitable for the company and run with it. It would help if you had actual deep research on what the company (or the industry, at the very least) does and the business problem they face to create a specific project that appeals to them.

The material is all out there — the company website, article, research paper, and many more.

Building the data science project that specific to the business you are applying to would help build your business knowledge and decrease your time on working on a project whom people would never need.

In summary, my advice is: Focus on one business and build a data science project around it.

2. Internship

There is no better way to gain actual business experience than working with the business itself.

While it is fierce competition to get the position you want in the company you aim for, you could try to give a leg up on your prospect by having an internship experience.

We all know that getting an internship position is not an easy feat in itself, but nothing ever easy.

However, there are some tips that I could give to you from my own experience and some intern in my place for you to secure that internship position. One word — Connection.

You might not instantly get the position you want by utilizing your connection, but the Internship position is a slightly different story. It is still possible as you are temporarily contracted in the company, instead of a full-time contract.

Also, if you think that it is not possible to get an internship because you are a fresh graduate; No, it is possible. I know many people who get the internship in the place they want by using their connection, and they do not even graduate yet.

The connection does not mean coming from your family or close friend, but it something you could build on your own. Try connecting through social media or the company event; from there, try to strike a conversation and build a better connection.

Many people get an internship this way — build it from nothing and only rely on their social skills. That is why to build a connection, don’t shy around, or miss something that matters.

Is internship that important? I would say yes if you never have any work experience or business knowledge in a certain industry you want.

I know people who were rated higher during the recruitment process because of their internship experience compared to their competition, even though the competition's education institute was ranked higher.

It is crazy, right? That is why I am always suggesting an internship if you want to learn the business process.

3. Freelance

You might not have time to do an internship or already have a full-time job but having something else that interests you, then freelance might be the chance to get business knowledge and at the same time pocketing some money. Sounds easy? Well, you still need to compete with many competitions here.

In my experience, you need to build a decent technical skill and starting low to get any chance employed in contracted on an independent project. Also, it would be best if you built your presence to improve your personal brand.

So, how do you gain business knowledge from freelancing? It is slightly harder this way because freelancing is all about accepting a job you get rather than choosing what you want to do (of course, it depends on the people), but you could always learn the business from every job you get.

This is because the freelance job is still a job that solves a business problem. It is still a learning process for improving your knowledge, both business and technical.

4. Employed but on a different function

Just like an internship position, the best business experience is when you are employed in the business industry you want. However, there are times that you must accept that you should start from a different angle to get into the position you want.

I have seen many people employed within the business want to change their career course to the data — and they have an easier time to be accepted as a Data Scientist; why? They already knew about the business and only learned the technical skill to support their way to switching careers.

Every function in the business would use data; that is why you could leverage any position you are in to become a data scientist.

Data scientists are not employed in a specific department in modern times, but they are everywhere; Marketing, Finance, Communication, HR — every single department in a business now employed data scientists to help their work. Although, it still comes to the maturity of your company.

The point is from any position; you could become a data scientist, which is the best way to learn the business.


Applying for a data science job is hard, especially with the current competition. To give you an edge, you need to know the company you are applying to. There are four ways I recommend to get the business knowledge, they are:

  1. Specific Data Science Project
  2. Internship
  3. Freelance
  4. Employed but on a different function

I hope it helps!


Created by

Cornellius Yudha Wijaya

Cornellius Yudha Wijaya is a Data Scientist in Allianz Life Indonesia and often writing about Data Science in his free time. He holds a Biology M.Sc. Degree from Uppsala University and have since managed to teach people how to break into the Data Science industry.







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