Tips from a former academic

Previous panelist from Beyond Academia 2014, Jessica Kirkpatrick, gives good tips on transitioning from academia to industry.  She herself made the transition from astronomy to data science.  In addition to tips on what skills to pick up, she notes that “Most tech companies are interested in smart, talented people who can learn quickly and have good problem solving skills. Scientists have these attributes.”
analytics

This includes people in the quantitative social sciences, so don’t think this doesn’t apply to you if you’re not in a hard science.  I recently met someone working in data science with her PhD in psychology, and she told me there are plenty of people coming from all kinds of scientific backgrounds, including social sciences.

Also, many of the technical skills she describes are taught in workshops by the D-Lab at Berkeley.  Take advantage!  And if you’re not at Berkeley, do some research to find out if your university has a group that provides such workshops.

Jessica also has a blog where she frequently discusses topics related to academia and the tech world.