Starting at the beginning

My journey began teaching Economics at an International School in Moscow in March 2022. However, the swiftly shifting sands of international politics would soon have me assessing my future options. I was always interested in data and was the kid at school who read reference books instead of stories.  Although I never had any formal training data wasn’t new to me. I’d used data to some extent in my studies and during my work in International Development.

So, when fortune saw me heading to Australia in April. I knew this was a good moment in my life to pivot into a career I had long wanted to try. I remember seeing the Data School adverts on LinkedIn when I arrived in April and thought what a great opportunity that would be for anyone looking to make the move into a data career. The deadline was approaching for the June intake and I had my sights on that, but then I read the application process and realised I would never be ready in time to produce anything that might get me noticed.

# Tip 1: Set realistic timelines for putting together your best effort.


How I prepared for The Data School application

I began my application to the data school by reading as much as I could about the application process and the blogs from previous cohorts. Next, I started thinking about what I could be the subject of my Tableau Viz but also set to work on upskilling myself. Meanwhile, I completed the Google Data Analytics Coursera course and signed up for Datacamp and completed their Theory, SQL and Tableau courses by the end of June. I knew the next intake for DSAU17 was in October and after that was Autumn 2023! I had to try and get on the next intake.

# Tip 2: Study, study, study. Consume as much as you can about data and Tableau. This will give you the best chance of producing something that you’re proud of. 

I had developed some basic skills in Tableau by now and felt comfortable applying what I had learned in constructing a viz based on a topic very dear to my heart… Leeds United. provided the data I needed and I set about looking to answer my questions. Basically what caused the huge discrepancy between their two-season performances since returning to the Premier League?

# Tip 3: Choose a topic that you have some interest or passion for. This makes it enjoyable to work and ensures that it doesn’t become a chore. It also helps you speak passionately about it in an interview.

After much tweaking and many frustrating days (but more learning), I sent in my application and hoped for the best. 


The First Interview

Then I got the call. The Data School wanted me to present my viz to one of their team and see if it met the grade for the final round. I received some feedback on my viz and made the changes feeling confident I had given the viz a good go. As a former teacher, I am confident presenting to people. But I didn’t rehearse as much as I should have though, and I got thoroughly carried away and went over the allotted 10 minutes by some way. I must have shown potential though and was selected for the final data set.

# Tip 4: Rehearse your presentation. Even if you are confident with presenting. Make sure you tell a story and keep it within the timeframe allowed.


The Final Data and Interview

The final data was pretty new to me. Having recently arrived in Australia and knew nothing of Australian Football or ‘Footy’. Once again, I was learning, only this time it was about a totally alien sport to me. I then started looking for stories in the data and felt like I had a good angle and began building my dashboard. In hindsight, I tried to build a dashboard that showed off what I could do in Tableau. However, I think given the task again I would spend more time honing my storytelling and less time making ‘fancy charts’. This is because in the interview I felt that the look of the chart accounted for 30% and the story it told was 70%. The Data School will teach you the technology and will help you become a better presenter but if you can already knit an engaging narrative together from data you will impress in the interview.

# Tip 5: Keep it simple. Make sure you have substance over style with your visualization and tell a compelling story with the data.

Finally, the whole process is great and I wish more organisations had similar approaches to recruitment. I learned a lot and really enjoyed the whole journey. So remember to have fun.


The Data School
Author: The Data School