Skill Development for Public Service & Government Careers: Data Science & Quantitative Research

Interested in a future career in public service or government? Not sure what skills to work on during your time at UVA? Our Skill Development in PSG Careers blog series highlights some of the most in-demand skill sets according to our alumni in the field. Review these posts to learn why these skills are helpful, how to develop them, and how to market them in your application materials! This installment in the series focuses on how familiarity with data science/analysis can be valuable in PSG career paths.

How does data science connect to public service & government careers?

As the world has become more connected, the links between the tech industry and government have grown. There are many ways that data science and quantitative research are used in PSG careers! For one, it can help ground policies in numbers that strengthens their effectiveness. Another area where we see demand for these skills is in the growing realm of cybersecurity. There are many new roles still being developed so, if you like forging your own path, these jobs could be a great fit for you.

How can you work on developing foundational skills?

Consider taking summer or J-term classes that concentrate on this area. When combined with strong public speaking skills and strong writing skills, your resume becomes more appealing to employers. Other potential skills that can be learned outside of class include programming languages (such as Python). Some great resources include:

If you want to develop these skills more formally, consider applying to the UVA School of Data Science. They have a variety of programs, including the Masters of Science in Data Science, which is a renowned program that actively seeks applicants with a variety of undergraduate backgrounds.

Want to learn more about how these skills can propel your career?

Consider networking with UVA alumni! On LinkedIn, you can search job titles (like Chief Data Officer) and key words (like specific programming languages or even something as broad as ‘data science’) to find alumni who can share more about how they have used their various data and research skills in their public service and government careers. You can find alumni on LinkedIn or Virginia Alumni Mentoring.

Make sure to highlight your skills in your application materials!
If your data science experience is related to your education, such as a major or a minor, then an appropriate place to situate it would be at the top with your school information. If you gained this knowledge outside of the traditional classroom, consider adding a “skills” section at the bottom of your resume. A “research experience” section could also be a good option! Be sure to check out the Hoos Guide, a digital resource full of sample resumes, cover letters, and interviewing advice.