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Doing good with data careers

Data careers

Data scientists and statisticians are using their numbers knowhow to help change the world

When you think about the work of a charity or non-profit organisation, like a youth support group or a foodbank for homeless people, it’s easy to picture the important services and products they offer. 

What you may not realise is that the collection and analysis of data is shaping how these organisations function. Increasingly, charities and non-profit organisations are hiring people with data skills to help make their work more effective and deliver programs that have a lasting impact.

For example, data professionals can produce statistics that highlight an organisation’s impact, which in turn helps attract increased funding and support. They can also measure the progress of a charity’s programs, and they can create reports on topics such as an organisation’s yearly operational costs.  

Whether you’re interested in data analysis, statistics or programming, there are many opportunities to use your skills for social good. So don’t be afraid to explore these options and consider a career that combines your passion for numbers with your desire to make the world a better place.

5 minutes with a data hero

Vivek Katial, executive director of Good Data Institute

The Good Data Institute is an Aussie-founded organisation that describes itself as “a community of socially-minded data professionals committed to doing good”. In short, it helps not-for-profits and non-government organisations (NGOs) get the most out of their data. We chatted with executive director and co-founder Vivek Katial about using your maths powers for good!

Q. Have you noticed an increased demand for data analysts in the not-for-profit sector?

A. Absolutely – data and analytics are powerful tools to accelerate the impact of an NGO. Access to data enables these charities to report their impact to donors and identify issues with their programs. By using this information, charities can improve their services tremendously.

Q. What are some of the benefits of using your maths and data skills for social good? 

A. The obvious one is that it makes you a better person. From a personal standpoint, you’re likely to get more fulfillment and joy from your life if your work is empowering others and helping to create a more sustainable planet. It’s also a challenging and exciting field. You’re working on building tools that often interact with millions of people. Although the work is hard, many organisations value employee wellbeing and there are many perks that make your work more enjoyable.

Vivek’s career pathway

  • Senior data scientist, Quantiful
  • Teaching assistant, Melbourne Business School
  • PhD research internship, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab
  • Co-founder and executive director, Good Data Institute

Three cheers

Check out these three real-world examples of how data pros at the Good Data Institute have used their skills to make awesome social changes.

#1 Helping young First Nations people in detention

Data professionals worked with Brother to Another, a First Nations organisation that provides support to young people in detention. It wanted to measure the impact it was having on these young people’s lives and to improve how it was engaging with them. This included building templates in Google to record information from meetings and building dashboards to measure the impact of those meetings. 

#2 Toys for young carers

CaringKids is a charity that provides toy boxes to children and teenagers who care for disabled or very ill family members. The boxes help the young carers to feel less alone and, hopefully, add some joy to their lives. CaringKids worked with pros at the Good Data Institute to learn what kids and parents thought of the toy boxes. They also organised the data they had collected on how many boxes were being sent and where they were being delivered to.

#3 Preventing lung cancer in India

In India, lung cancer accounts for around 8% of all cancer-related deaths each year*. The Lung Care Foundation is a non-profit organisation providing healthcare and education to people in India to try and prevent lung cancer. Data professionals from the Good Data Institute are helping the organisation measure how effective its programs are so it can give this information to its partners and financial supporters.

Start your career here

Maths & Data + Social Good + Study

  • Bachelor of Data Science, Queensland University of Technology
  • Bachelor of Science (Data Science), University of Melbourne
  • Bachelor of Science (Statistics), UNSW Sydney
  • Bachelor of Data Science, RMIT University
  • Bachelor of Data Science, University of Western Australia

Maths & Data + Social Good + Jobs

  • Data analyst: $55K–$103K
  • Data scientist: $66K–$128K
  • Statistician: $63K–$118K

Salary info according to payscale.com 

* CA Cancer Journal for Clinicians, 2018

This article was originally published in Careers with STEM: Maths & Data

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