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Intellectual curiosity

Intellectual curiosity published on No Comments on Intellectual curiosity

So I failed two job interviews this week. The reason in both cases is the same – I am not “business savvy,” or at least not savvy enough.

Of course, I can rationalize these failures by mentioning that I am really not in the business these two companies operate, or the interviewers did not give me enough guidance and sufficient orientation in their business models, or it’s not realistic to expect a candidate give a precise answer to an open-ended question, or people who interviewed me are educated morons, or whatever else excuses I can come up with.

Nevertheless the fact remains: all my technical skills do not help me in advancing my career. So, why should I continue studying weird and obscure stuff, take Coursera classes and read thick books and hard-to-find papers? Nobody seems to care about what I know. As long as I can articulate how to compare proportions and explain the difference between mean and median, I am deemed to have adequate skills for a data analyst position.

And this is fine. If the company does what they need to do by utilizing just a bare minimum of analytics, more power to them! Simple analytical solutions do not entail business disadvantage. Quite the opposite, these people do not have to utilize heavy duty machinery to get the job done and stay profitable.

But my experience raises the following question: do I spend my time and energy wisely?

According to Wikipedia, intellectual curiosity is “a term used to describe one’s desire to invest time and energy into learning more,” is widely praised and generally considered a good thing. Still, it is a curiosity, i.e. an aimless interest in knowing something, without having any definite purpose to know. The phrase `I am curious about` suggests the things the speaker wants to know are not essential or critical. They are merely ‘interesting,’ but the speaker can happily live without learning about them. Curiosity is not a desire or a passion; it’s an idle interest rooted in boredom.

Intellectual curiosity has been the main driving force for my studies, or at least I like to think of it this way. It turned out I was curious about wrong things. Instead, I should have spent time reading business cases, fluffy stuff about customer relationship, marketing, management… business magazines, maybe?

And these so called “studies” shouldn’t be driven by “curiosity” but by the clear and sober realization of the market requirements demanded of data scientists today.

No matter how I feel about it.

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