What’s the key to making it to Silicon Valley? Rory Garton-Smith looks back

20 Nov 2020 | 2 MINS

Rory Garton-Smith credits his experience studying a Master of Data Science as key to the amazing career he now enjoys as a data scientist at Apple headquarters in California.

Completing his master’s degree in 2017, it wasn’t long before Apple came calling, and Rory now has his teachers to thank for driving his success.

“The academics at UWA are world class and were able to see me through any problems and really help guide me in the right direction. Having a support network of supervisors, while being essentially left to your own devices, is how it works in most modern workplaces, so it prepared me well for my future career.”

Rory acknowledges the importance of past students’ experiences, which helped him seek out real industry opportunities for himself. Networking with fellow students also provided chances to work on research projects and connect with data scientists across the globe.

“I would not have made it out here to Silicon Valley and Apple if students in the cohort above mine had not paved the way. There is a huge network of UWA students worldwide – do your best to tap into it at a grassroots level.”

A solid understanding of Python programming, from tutoring the Computational Thinking with Python unit, was also invaluable when it came to successfully answering data structures and algorithms interview questions. And the industry experience opportunities at UWA saw Rory build the comprehensive skill set needed to enter the workforce.

“My industry experience included being a project leader for management consulting charity WAUC, where I worked alongside MBB firms to consult for major not-for-profits. It was genuinely one of the best things I did as a student. The networking that comes from it is worth it, let alone the social impact you can have.”

“I also worked at VGW (Virtual Gaming Worlds) for nearly a year. It’s a gigantic company and probably the closest thing to a tier 1 software engineering environment that Perth has. With its many strong development teams, I’d recommend every student apply to work there. I can’t think of a better place in Perth to start a quantitative career.”

So if you’re dreaming of working for a company like Apple, Rory has one final piece of advice.

“Don’t neglect studying the software engineering components because they are essential to being a highly regarded data scientist in any top-flight environment.”

Interested in finding out where a degree in data science could take you? Find out about the Data and Computer Science courses at UWA.

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