Hi data enthusiasts!

Last week, I completed my training at the data school; the entire experience was both challenging and enjoyable. During these four months, I learned not only the two main software packages, Tableau and Alteryx, but also the soft skills that the data school taught me that will help me throughout my entire career as a data analyst. I appreciated all of the efforts made by the coaches and staff at the data school to make my career dream a reality.

Here are the five most important things that I believe will benefit me the most.



Team work

As you all know, we definitely need technical skills to be able to handle different data problems. However, the soft skills came as an important factor to be even more successful. In the data school, we were not only being trained, but also we had chances to deal with real world data by handling the business problems from 7 different clients. We were working in the cohort team of 7 or 8, so now teamwork has come as an important factor if you can deliver a successful presentation by the end of the week.

  • Working in a team
    • We usually divide our project into several use cases, so that each team member works with one or two other people. Make sure to always check in on your teammate’s progress because you don’t want to do repetitive tasks, always communicate via video or phone call, and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you get stuck or to be supportive in offering assistance.


  • Being a Scrum Master
    • Almost everyone in the team will get the chance to be a team leader/scrum master, do not hesitant to volunteer for this opportunity because you will learn a lot! To be able to help the team to finish the project, firstly you have to make sure yourself understand the data comprehensively of every use case to be able to offer helps. Being a scrum master is not manage or order people to do something, it is to help reduce the cost of team corporation and being supportive throughout the whole project. The remote work is challenging for being a scrum master, the important tips I have learnt from my own experience are: Hold meetings occasionally to check in how does each team go with their tasks; Always offer help if any team need some recourses or advices; Always check if the team corporation is in the right direction.


  • Communication
    • Communication is the key to solve every team problems, do not be afraid to communicate even though you are not that good with English.



The good representation of data is to be able to understand the data

I know there are a lot of fancy visualisations in the Tableau public gallery, it can be fun for personal projects, but for business purposes and presentations, what we need to think about is good data representation, not fancy charts.

A simple example can be like this:

I was attempting to construct a timeline story solely to describe what occurred in New York City between 2018 and 2020. The first chart appears to be quite “fancy,” but it is apparently just difficult to understand; the colour is confusing with logical information even on a colour legend, and even though I tried to present it in a user-friendly manner, it is still too complicated. The second chart does not appear to be as “fancy,” but it provides such clear information and takes less time to create.


The good presentation is about telling a good story

We had a comprehensive training on how to deliver a brilliant presentation and I can see how far my colleagues and I have come during  the training. The most important tip I learnt was: Avoid spending much time on technical staff because our clients may not specialize in data field, even sometimes I cannot even understand those technical problems, a good presentation is to make it easy to understand, following a good story around it.



Less is more

Sometimes we want to include all of the data in a single Tableau workbook, but we forget that most users cannot digest that much data! Furthermore, if you want to cover that much information, it will be nearly impossible for you to deliver a good presentation. Sometimes you spend a lot of time creating different charts, but the end result may not be as good as those that take less time but tell a clear story.



Think about your purpose before starting the project

Before you begin the project, you must consider what you will tell with the data. Normally, we have to ask the clients what they want us to deliver first, and if the client does not have a clear idea of what insight they want, we have to stand at the business point and think about what the dashboard can be that can generate business value or anything can be helpful. Always keep in mind that everything we deliver is to assist with that business or some other specific things.



Do not be afraid to ask questions

This is also the point where I felt I could do better. At first, I was afraid that my questions would be too simple, and I was so self-conscious that I didn’t want to ask many. Later on, I found it difficult to catch up. So, never be afraid to ask questions; there are no stupid questions; it is simply that simple to send a message to Team. Make use of the resources available to you in order to better yourself.



There are so many things that I have learnt from the data school, there might be something missing but feel free to mention it in the comment. Oh, at the data school, you can even improve your writing skills by publishing little blogs 😀






Rey Li
Author: Rey Li