Is Python a good skill to acquire or is more for niche roles?

I've seen a few roles asking for R, SQL and Python. Should I bother learning them or leave those for on the job? Python is actually on my list of things to learn but I've got a few things ahead of it, like foregin languages.

Comments (6)

Sep 22, 2022 - 3:47am
kinghamasaki, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I don't think knowing Python makes much of a difference for M&A roles. VBA is definitely more helpful for the role.

  • Analyst 1 in CorpStrat
Sep 25, 2022 - 3:53pm

Personally I would order it SQL > Python > R. SQL is also pretty easy to pick up. Though I would prioritize foreign languages over them. You will be given time on the job to learn the languages if the position uses them, unless you have told them that you are experienced & knowledgeable with the language(s) in the interview process. Even then odds are there would be training. Companies however will not make time for you to learn a foreign language. That said, SQL is not complicated and Python is only slightly more complex (I haven't used R so I can't speak to it), and it doesn't hurt to at least be familiar with them. It does depend on what job you're applying for, which company, etc. 

Most Helpful
Sep 26, 2022 - 11:02am
Lester Freamon, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Depends what you want to do. If you want to be purely in a business consulting role (think strategy, CDD/ODD, profitability, etc.), I don't really see it being that useful. From what I've seen, most teams in strategy, finance, etc. want everything in Excel anyway and will typically have a separate analytics team that helps them consolidate/aggregate data if it's unwieldy or beyond the capabilities of Excel. For example, at my firm, there's a separate team for ODD/CDD work and then me, on the analytics side, will get called in when the data is large/messy and it'll take too long to consolidate it all with Excel/PowerQuery. 

If you find the data aggregation, report generation, etc. too boring or "too in the weeds", then I don't recommend you waste time learning any of the languages you've specified and focus on building domain knowledge. I think there'll come a day of reckoning where the guys who market themselves as "Excel Gurus" because they know "VLOOKUP" and Pivots won't be relevant anymore as data grows larger and more complex. That said, that'll happen quite a few years for now and you can still escape for now by being really strong with business domain knowledge by the time these skills start becoming table-stakes.

For me, I like working with data and am happiest really diving into data to make decisions. Unless that's your personality, just focus on softs/networking but be able to have a reasonable conversation with data people so we don't get pissed off when you make unreasonable data requests due to lack of knowledge.

Sep 26, 2022 - 12:26pm
ConsultingQs, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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