Embracing the power of data: My journey as a volunteer data scientist with Statisticians for Society

Guest blog by Sayma Chowdhury
Sayma Chowdhury is a Data Science and Machine Learning Consultant, currently completing her MicroMasters in Data, Economics and Design of Policy (DEDP) with MIT.
As a data scientist, I spend most of my days navigating through oceans of data, constructing intricate models, and drawing insights that drive business decisions. While this work is fulfilling, there is a special kind of satisfaction that comes from using my skills to make a tangible impact on society. That is why volunteering with Statisticians for Society has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my career.
The Call to Action
Statisticians for Society is an initiative that connects volunteer statisticians and data scientists with charities and non-profits that need analytical support. From designing surveys to conducting data analysis, these organisations rely on our expertise to make informed decisions and maximise their impact. When I first heard about this opportunity, I was intrigued. The idea of using my professional skills to give back to the community resonated deeply with me, and I eagerly signed up.
Making a Difference with Data
One of the most striking aspects of volunteering with Statisticians for Society is seeing firsthand the difference that data can make. In my first project, I worked with a charity focused on empowering children and young adults who are living with a rare disability. They had amassed a wealth of data from various programs but struggled to make sense of it. By applying statistical techniques and data visualisation, we uncovered patterns and insights that helped the organisation refine their programs and better allocate their resources.
The experience was eye-opening. It demonstrated the profound impact that well-analysed data can have on shaping strategies and improving outcomes. Moreover, it was a powerful reminder of the broader purpose of data science beyond corporate applications.
A Collaborative Effort
Volunteering with Statisticians for Society is not a solo endeavor. It is a collaborative effort that brings together a diverse group of professionals from around the world. The camaraderie among volunteers is one of the highlights of this experience. We share knowledge, support each other, and collectively brainstorm solutions to complex problems.
There are projects where two data professionals are paired up to work together as a team. The combined expertise enables the creation of a comprehensive and effective outcome that accurately captures the needed information. The collaborative spirit extends beyond just project work. You can engage in discussions about best practices, new statistical methods, and ways to improve your volunteer efforts, fostering a sense of community and continuous learning.
Professional Growth and Fulfillment
Volunteering has not only allowed me to give back but has also contributed significantly to my professional growth. Each project presents unique challenges that require innovative solutions, pushing me to expand my skill set. Working with charities often involves dealing with limited or imperfect data, which has honed my ability to think creatively and adapt to different contexts.
Moreover, the diversity of projects has exposed me to various fields and issues, from health and wellbeing to global charities making societal impact. This breadth of experience has enriched my understanding of how data science can be applied across different domains, broadening my perspective and making me a more versatile professional.
Encouraging Future Volunteers
To my fellow data scientists and statisticians, I wholeheartedly encourage you to consider volunteering with Statisticians for Society. The work is meaningful, the impact is tangible, and the personal and professional rewards are immense. By dedicating a fraction of your time, you can contribute to causes that genuinely matter and help build a better world through the power of data.
Volunteering has reaffirmed my belief in the transformative power of data and the importance of using our skills for the greater good. It is a journey that enriches not only the organisations we assist but also ourselves as professionals and individuals.
In a world where data drives decisions, volunteer data scientists and statisticians hold a unique position to foster positive change. Through Statisticians for Society, we have the opportunity to apply our skills to impactful causes, grow professionally, and be part of a supportive community. Volunteering has been an incredibly rewarding experience for me, and I encourage others to take the leap. Together, we can harness the power of data to make a meaningful difference in the lives of those who need it most.
Find out more about volunteering with Statisticians for Society.
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