Time flies! Without even noticing it, we are already nearing the end of our four-month training program and ready to embark on the next phase of the journey, which is to apply our skills and work on placements with clients. Hence, this would be a perfect time to reflect upon my experience so far, which I would describe as both unique and memorable. Unique as the program is none like others. It is diverse, hands-on, and very practical. The experience has also been memorable because of the people and the culture.
The training has been very diverse. At the core of our training, as you probably already know, are Alteryx and Tableau. These are wh ere we spent the majority of our time during the whole training period, especially when it comes to client projects. We’ve covered a whole range of topics, with the notable ones being:
- Alteryx – spatial analysis, web scraping, macros, predictive analysis, machine learning, etc.
- Tableau – working with dates, table calc, LOD expressions, set/parameter actions, Mapbox, etc.
Apart from these two core tools, we also received training in many other areas, like Alteryx/Tableau Server, Tableau Prep, Power BI, SQL, and so much more. Great thing is throughout this period, we have been encouraged to blog avidly about what we’ve learnt. So you will find plenty of amazing blogs from my cohort on The Data School website. For example, Amy, who is very talented in visualisation, wrote voraciously about creating beautiful dashboards in Tableau; Jethro has written quite a few blogs about spatial analysis; and if you wanna get into the nuts and bolts of macro, then check out Pat‘s blog.
We won’t be considered as qualified consultants if we only master technical skills. This is why The Data School puts such a huge emphasis on soft skills, especially presentation and teamwork. Every Friday at 3pm, each of us would present something, either to our peers and coaches or to the client. This is probably the best way to increase our confidence and hone our story-telling skill. Story-telling is a powerful weapon in any consultant’s arsenal as it is through stories that insights are delivered with impact and data are turned into action. As such, our two amazing coaches, Craig and David, always remind us to find a story to tell in any data analysis task we are given. In addition, we also learned the agile methodology, which is an iterative approach to project management, and techniques for requirement gathering from clients.
In a nutshell, because of such diverse training, The Data School is probably one of the best places if not the best to begin a career as a data analyst, and you even get paid to learn all of these.
One key component that makes the program really stand out has to be the client projects. All together we have worked on 7 engagements, each of which involved its own unique challenges. For some, the data quality was rather poor, so we had to spend a great deal of time cleaning and getting the data into the right format. For others, not much data was provided for confidential reasons and consequently we had to web scrape data in order to enrich our analysis and story.
I can’t remember how many endless nights we’ve had just to make sure we have satisfactory deliverables for the Friday presentation. But in hindsight, these project weeks were when we learned the most and understood what it’s really like to work in the industry. And for nearly every project, we received wonderful feedback from our clients at the end of the presentation, which made all the hard efforts very worthwhile. Also, it’s through these projects that we obtained confidence in working with clients and cultivated a strong business sense.
The People and Culture
Even though the learning and projects have been very intensive and sometimes quite stressful, the overall experience was made memorable because of the wonderful coaches, team members, other data schoolers, as well as the company culture.
The coaches have always been extremely patient and supportive. They are always there to encourage us and inspire us to look at problems from new perspectives. We owe a large part of our final deliverables to them.
The team members have been loving and fantastic. We collaborated closely and shared unconditionally to help each other through difficulties. We treated each other like brothers and sisters, made jokes of each other, bought snacks and ice-creams for everyone to share. And so much more!
On top of that, we received a lot of support and guidance from previous data schoolers. They are very open and made us feel included from the very beginning, shared their experiences so that we were mentally prepared. Not to mention the social drinks at the end of each Friday’s presentation where we just talked about random things and played games.
Because of the people, the culture at The Data School is genuinely open and very supportive. It is this wonderful culture and a group of like-mined and passionate people that together have made the past four months so special and unforgettable.