Last week I got a chance to demo Alteryx in The Data School Meet and Greet online event. Seeing so many participants interested in The Data School reminded me how I made my way to here. In this blog I’d like to share my journey to The Data School.


About Me

I graduated from UTS with a degree in Business (major in Marketing, specialising in Marketing Research). Before getting into the Data School, I had been working in retail customer service for about 4.5 years. I once thought I probably will be working in retail for my whole career, until I finally got my permanent residency visa after almost 7 years in Australia. With full working rights, I started to think about other possibilities. Then one of my friends who is in the Data School told me about this opportunity. She suggested me to download Tableau first, play around with it, and see if I’m interested. I had never heard of Tableau before, but it sounds cool to me, so I decided to give it a try. And it turned out that I really enjoy it. It kind of reminded me those fun math classes when I was a student.


Then I also found that the application process for The Data School is perfect for me – resume is not required. Great! Because I have little to write on my CV regarding data analysis. I decided to prepare my dashboard and apply for the position. Back then I was working in my previous job, so I could only study Tableau after work. But this actually became something I was looking forward everyday. Tableau really has so much fun (and challenges). And I also felt I wouldn’t have a better chance if I want to steer my career to data analysis as a person with non-IT/data related background.


Tableau Learning and Dashboard Preparation

As an absolute beginner, the main two sources I started with are Tableau website and Makeover Monday. Tableau website got very comprehensive tutorials covering different topics, and I think it’s a good starting point. And I also did learn a lot through Makeover Monday weekly Watch Me Viz held by The Data School UK head coach Andy Kriebel. From there I’ve learnt how to approach a given dataset, and the thinking process of creating viz and building a dashboard.


In terms of building the dashboard for application, I first chose a topic I’m interested in, and then try to investigate the data and find out what it is telling me. Instead of creating a lot of fancy charts, I tried to focus on finding insights and telling a story with my data. In addition, I also submitted my application earlier than the deadline, so I was able to get feedback from the MIP team to improve my dashboard. Then I updated it based on these advices, and submitted the revised version before the application closed.


Presentation in the Interviews

The second and last stages of interview were dashboard presentation. The second stage was presenting on the dashboard from our first application. And the final stage was presenting on the dashboard we created based on a given (and much larger) dataset. In the final run, I spent a lot of time on understanding the data and trying to figure out the story behind it. Before the interview, I also saved about 1-2 days practicing my presentation.


My personal tip for preparing presentation is nothing special – practice, practice, and practice. Speak out loud to yourself until you feel confident. And try to tell a story, not just showing how the dashboard works. I also felt that it’ll be helpful if you sound passionate and enjoying what you are doing. We were suggested that you probably won’t be successful if you show no passion even if you’ve made a fantastic dashboard.


I’m very glad that I was accepted to The Data School. I still remember how excited I was when I got the call from our coach saying that I was successful. It took me a lot of efforts but definitely worth it. The coaches and teams are super nice and supported here, and I feel so lucky to be one of the team. So if you’re thinking about applying for The Data School, don’t hesitate and start preparing now!


Ming-Hsuan Lee
Author: Ming-Hsuan Lee