Many a noob in the data science field have feared The Kaggle. It's understandable as it can be an intimidating beast. I have feared the Kaggle and I don't consider myself a noob. I've been in the computer programming world for over 20 years.
If you are wondering what The Kaggle is, it's a website that hosts competitions in the data science field. It is one of the quickest ways for data science practitioners to learn and practice their skills. That's what it's purpose is.
But, when you first start out, how can you possibly submit to contests when you don't even know what you're doing, right? That's where the intimidation comes in. I get it because I lived it. Well, I am over it now and Kaggle is going to be one of my main visits on a daily basis.
More to Kaggle Than Competitions
Kaggle is truly more robust in features than simply providing a repository for competitions. You can learn from seasoned pros when visiting the website. If you are wondering why seasoned pros in data science would hang out there, it's because several of the contests have decent payouts if they win the competition. I'm not talking a few dollars here or there. These competitions can rake in several thousands of dollars.
But, there is also street cred associated with using the site. For instance, when you post solutions to problems or add a tutorial, etc., people on the platform take notice. This includes data science people working for other companies who may be looking for candidates to recruit. Show that you can solve complex problems, and you've got a good foot in the door!
Helping You Get Past the Fear
Go sign up to Kaggle, right now! That's the first step in getting past the fear. You'd be surprised at how many people avoid the website because they are afraid. Don't let that be you. No more excuses, sign up now, end of story!
After you sign up (you did sign up, didn't you?), then explore the different features on the website. During this exploratory phase, don't worry about submitting to contents. But, do go into the contests and read what they are all about. Choose ones with a topic you are interested in. For me, I like ones related to government data (census, etc) and the stock market.
Training Is Available on Kaggle
Perhaps not as well known is the training section on Kaggle. People associate Kaggle with being dedicated to contests and the fact that it offers training is lost on many. I have been going through the training modules, and so far, I am impressed! They are step-by-step and you'll learn from doing them.
I know what you are thinking - is this another resource that you have to pay for training? The good news is (at least at the time of this writing) Kaggle training is free. You do not have to pay for it.
Since you have signed up to Kaggle already (right?) you have the tools available to you to get started in data science. Get your butt over to the training modules and start learning, for goodness sake! What are you waiting for?
Community Is By Your Side
Another facet you have available with your membership to Kaggle is a great data science community. You'll find a wide array of people with varying skill sets. From experts to total newcomers, it runs the gamut.
One of the confusing aspects of the data science field is that it moves so quickly. It's hard to keep track of these changes. By joining a active community such as Kaggle, you will learn about the latest developments in the field.
You should have also picked up on the fact that a community of this type is a great networking opportunity, too. If you stay active, you'll establish great contacts that can help you when you're ready to make a move and get a job in data science.
I am a fan of Kaggle as is evident by this review of the service. In my book, I would make this a requirement for anyone who I was mentoring in data science. It is simply too valuable a resource to pass up!