Recently a grad student contacted me on advice for a Data Science job. Here was my response:
Thanks for connecting and reaching out.
Data Scientist is a good position in today's workforce and I admire your goals.
I agree that getting an intern position is beneficial to obtain real
world experience prior to graduation. As I've seen graduate students who
were well qualified not able to find positions.
I recommend getting involved in Social Media, follow the best and
brightest, there are many out there. That way you get knowledge of the
market trends, who the key players are and contribute to the
Likewise, starting a blog is good to build brand recognition as are speaking at events.
I would not get too focused on specific technologies at this point as
they are ever changing. However, having knowledge in data, both
relational and unstructured, along with solid programming skills are key
components to the Data Scientist position.
Also, see if your professors can assist in lining up some "free" work
just to get experience. Because once you get your first job out of
school, it's your experience they look at, not the degree.
So good luck, keep in touch,