Government tech execs at the Federal and state level offered advice and tips on how they are approaching the pressing need to recruit more data scientists into their organizations as reliance on data-centric technologies like artificial intelligence continues to grow.
Farakh Khan, communications, culture, and training chief at the Center for Analytics within the State Department, talked about the continual need to recruit data scientists at the department during the Data & Analytics Summit hosted by NextGov/FCW on Aug. 31.
“There’s a lot of demand out there for data scientists right now. And as we start moving into the realm of AI it is just going to get more and more,” stated Khan.
Although government faces tough odds competing against industry’s pay and benefits, Khan said that her office has been trying to “make it as easy as possible to be hired by the Federal government.”
She also pointed to some hopeful signs from recent recruiting drives.
“The first data scientist hiring we had last year, in 40 hours we had received 400 resumes. That was crazy. We actually see folks really interested in coming and joining the department,” stated Khan.
“This is a very different kind of work than working at Google or Amazon,” she said, adding, “and then we have our missions overseas and all of the foreign policy that’s involved in actually changing the world.”
During the same panel discussion, Josh Martin, chief data officer for the state of Indiana, echoed the importance of emphasizing the unique mission-oriented work that government undertakes.
“They want to do things that are meaningful, and they want to do things that bring value to their lives, and I am loaded with that stuff,” said Martin, speaking of motivations for data science job candidates.
“’I’ve got the most interesting data you’re going to find, it’s going to impact yourself and affect your neighbors, you can make the state into a much better place,” said Martin in highlighting the mission pitch.
Martin also advised that agency officials need “to be your own ambassadors out there and going in to meet with students and higher ed programs.”