Graydon Snider – Part 1 – Designing The Academic Path That Fits You

Do you know what it means to be a data scientist? This domain that is attracting more and more PhDs is fairly new, and looking at the job postings out there, it might be difficult to understand exactly what the requirements are and what the job entails. This week you’ll be hearing about Graydon Snider’s journey, from a PhD and postdoc in atmospheric chemistry to a data scientist position in a fashion retail company. With him I’ll try to paint a clearer picture of what being a data scientist means, and of how to prepare yourself to become one.

Graydon Snyder

Graydon grew up in Ottawa, then moved to Montreal for graduate school for a PhD in chemistry at McGill University, moving to Halifax for work as post doc at Dalhousie University, and finally came back to Montreal where he currently works at SSENSE as a Data Scientist. Formerly a student of atmospheric chemistry, Graydon carried an interest in numbers between various pursuits. His hobbies include running and juggling, occasionally at the same time.

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • You can adapt your academic path to your life goals at the different turning points – Graydon broadened his horizons at the postdoc after feeling too specialized at the end of his PhD
  • The importance of taking part in activities and having a community outside of research, for your physical and mental health
  • Blogging as a simple way to develop and express your other interests
  • During graduate school or in your postdoc there are other researchers around you, your peers, asking themselves the same questions you are – talk to them and think about these questions together
  • Why you should take part in (or organize) career seminars with guests from different domains

This episode’s pearls of wisdom:

“One of the things I took a step back to assess was how my interests could translate to other things, so what have I learned so far that would be useful in another field. One of those was numbers themselves, my interest in data – analyzing data, looking at data in the field, in the real world, summarizing it. That sort of thing was broadly of interest to me.”

“To have that sort of community of people that kind of give you a sanity check when work is not going as planned or you just need an outlet. It doesn’t have to be at any particular caliber. It’s just the goal of having this other group that you associate with outside of work. Because academia is dangerous for – you mix your free time and your spare time with your work time and they become blurred.”

Graydon’s links: LinkedIn –;

You might also like the following episodes:

Jonathan Weitzman – Academic Mentoring:;

Maryse Thomas – Science Communication:;

Nathalie Ross – Medical Writing:;

Zoë Ayres – Water Industry:;

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