You've have made quite an effort to learn and grow your statistical skills and knowledge. You may have a good idea what a research position in academia would be like, after all you spent a good deal of time obtaining your degree. And in industry, the applications for using statistics and data modeling are clearly driven by a corporate mission. But what about applying your qualifications in a government position? What types of research is engaged in? What types of opportunities and career paths exist in government? More importantly, how do you go about finding out more about these kinds of opportunites?
NISS attempts to provide value to its affiliates by reaching out to its contacts in academia, industry and government to gather senior statisticians who bring extensive experience to present a regular series of virtual career fairs. The aim of these fairs is to provide the inside 'scoop' regarding what it is like to be a statistician, the research that is engaged in and the opportunities that exist! This past Wednesday, December 14th NISS brought together a four experienced professionals working in the federal government (see Event page). They addressed the questions:
- What is it like to work as a statistician in a government agency?
- What kinds of opportunities are there for data scientists in the federal government? and,
- More importantly, how do you prepare yourself for obtaining a position?
The speakers at this virtual career fair session included: Cha-Chi Fan, Director, Office of Data Development and Standards at Bureau of Transportation Statistics in the U.S. Department of Transportation, Stephen Nalley, EIA Deputy Administer and Ashley Remik, EIA Director, Office of Resource Management, both from the U.S. Energy Information Administration and Jonah L. Wong, Mathematical Statistician with the U.S. Census Bureau. The moderator for this session was Danny Ying, a Master of Applied Statistics student at UCLA.
Each of the speakers provided a quick but valuable review of the agency that they work for. Beyond this simple description of the general mission and how their agency is organized, the speakers also contextualized all of their comments in terms of the role and activities of statistics within the agency and the type of people that work on these projects. From here, most of the speakers honed in on some specifics regarding the work that they get involved in and why this is important. Besides qualifications related to statistical methods, communication and soft skills were also emphasized.
We are looking for somebody who is a great team player, good at time management, good at problem-solving, energetic and loves to be within part of a large family."
Cha-Chi Fan, (Bureau of Transportation Statistics)
While each position might involve having different qualifications, the application process in the federal government, at least to begin with is similar. Ashley Remick reviewed how the application process begins with opening an account in USA Jobs and how this is the stepping stone to sharing your information with many agencies.
"Basically, when you apply for one of these positions, and this is government-wide, you are putting your resume in a repository that can be drawn upoin when vacancies need to be filled."
Ashley Remik, (EIA)
Once the speakers completed their comments moderator Danny Ying (UCLA) fielded questions from the participants and a host of interesting questions from the participants were forwarded to the speakers. These included topics questions regarding internship opportunities, opportunities for non-US citizens, remote working options allowed, the pluses and minuses of working remotely, opportunities for Master level students as well as many others.
A big NISS thank you to all of the speakers for taking this time from their day to share information and their valuable insights on these important topics. And also, a big thank you to Danny Ying for his wonderful energy as first-time moderator!
The best way to everything to review all of the information that was shared during this session would be watch the recording of the session which is included below. In addition, you will also find links to the slide decks that each of the speakers used.
Recording of this Session
Slides Used by the Speakers
Cha-Chi Fan, Director, (Office of Data Development and Standards at Bureau of Transportation Statistics, U.S. Department of Transportation)
Stephen Nalley, EIA Deputy Administer, and Ashley Remik, EIA Director Office of Resource Management, (U.S. Energy Information Administration)
Jonah L. Wong, Mathematical Statistician, U.S. Census Bureau