Why is Silicon Valley Still the Go-To Place for Data Science and AI Why is Silicon Valley Still the Go-To Place for Data Science and AI
Be honest. How many articles have you read in the past week proclaiming the decline of Silicon Valley? What about the... Why is Silicon Valley Still the Go-To Place for Data Science and AI

Be honest. How many articles have you read in the past week proclaiming the decline of Silicon Valley? What about the inevitable decline of San Francisco as if it were a fat empire slowly eating itself alive? There’s plenty to discuss about the flow of money and the impact big tech has had on the communities in San Francisco, but one thing’s for sure. Tech isn’t going anywhere. Silicon Valley, and the greater San Francisco area, is still the go-to place for Data Science or AI, if you want a lasting career. Here’s why.

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It’s Still Growing

Despite mounting (and legitimate) criticism of the cost of living and the laughable concept that making less than $120,000 would qualify a family of four as low income, the tech hub shows no signs of slowing down. It’s not the only place making strides in data science and AI, but it is still the place. 

Residents and families are fleeing the area, but the region still employed nearly 450,000 people in tech in 2018. It continues to add jobs as large companies become entrenched in the area, seeking to make their marks on the tech haven.

Big Companies are Staying

You’d love to work for a startup, but the money is in big companies. Facebook and Google are pouring millions of dollars into AI-driven initiatives with data science close in the mix. Big companies often lay the groundwork for driving these initiatives, despite our perceptions of young startups. Startups often have revolutionary ideas, but it’s the capital of big companies that drives these startups to advance their newest tech.

Big tech also hires teams away from startups nestled in Silicon Valley. For example, Apple hired nearly a third of the tech startup SVDS in 2018. You could put yourself right in the path of an acquisition that works in your favor.

It’s Still a Startup Dream

The region is home to the type of infrastructure that can support a growing startup (million-dollar garages aside). We love the imagery of future billionaires sitting in their parents’ basements, creating the next big thing, but more realistic now is the support of VC funding and competition just down the street.

Silicon Valley has laws and policies in place to protect intellectual property, has the infrastructure to host heavy computing loads, and still has some of the most exciting people around available for accidental networking. 

Data Science is in Short Supply

It may be filled to the brim with developers, but those with the know-how to process and present the type of big data we see in both startups and enterprises alike are in demand. That skills gap could be your ticket. 

The most significant shortage of data science skills is currently in New York City, but San Francisco area comes in at a close second. The demand is so high that companies are beginning to incentivize employees, offering housing subsidies, or building entire corporate campuses to combat outrageous housing costs and stressful commutes. Negotiate perks aside from salary, and you could find that your move to the area is a lot softer.

There’s Industry Variety

You’ll have your pick of the types of industries you work for. Few other places offer companies in finance, tech, telecommunications, and energy all rubbing shoulders. Your chosen startup may be pharmaceutical or revamping the way people pay for utilities. It could be a consultant with military contracts. Whatever field you’re interested in, it’s probably there already.

Don’t Believe The Hype

Silicon Valley is a lot of hype, negative and positive. Don’t believe either side. The Bay area is a thriving hub for innovation, startups, and enterprises driving thought leadership. It’s also crippled by an affordable housing emergency and an identity crisis. Taxes are nearly twice as high as some other business-friendly cities, but the infrastructure is better for intellectual property. 

[Related Article: 13 Best Cities On The Planet To Get Hired As A Data Scientist]

You don’t have to head straight to San Francisco to get a great job in Data Science, but don’t rule it out just yet. Keeping an open mind for emerging markets and more traditional pathways, and you could find a thriving work environment waiting for you. There’s a reason it became and has stayed the go-to place for data science. 

Elizabeth Wallace, ODSC

Elizabeth is a Nashville-based freelance writer with a soft spot for startups. She spent 13 years teaching language in higher ed and now helps startups and other organizations explain - clearly - what it is they do. Connect with her on LinkedIn here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/elizabethawallace/