To aspiring Data Schoolers, this is a blog I write to share with you my experience and lessons learnt from the journey of securing a spot with The Data School Down Under. Congratulations if you have received your final data set. Unfamiliar topic? Overwhelmed looking at the data? I had been through the exact same stage as you, you are not alone! So, I hope these breakdowns below will help a bit.

1. Research the topic to understand the background

I must say this is one of the most important steps of the process. Most likely you will receive an unfamiliar topic as this is what the DS Team wants to see from you. I had spent an amount of time researching the topic I received for my final application, and I realized gaining a background knowledge about the data you are about to analyze, would help you to understand the data set so much better and to create a story from it.

2. Learn to understand stats from the data set

It is important to look up terms, fields name, statistics that you do not understand from the data set. Please do not assume.

3. Explore the data set

Now comes the fun part! Explore your data using Tableau and find insights from it. Some suggestions to find your stories would be:

4. Brainstorm/ draw out to visualize your dashboard

Draw out your thinking process to tell your story from the data and plan your dashboard.

  • How many of your findings support your story?
  • Which charts could you use to visualize your findings?
  • Organize your dashboard so it has a natural flow to your insight/ story.

It will give you a structure when building the actual dashboard in Tableau. One of the helpful tools for mind-mapping that I found is Excalidraw – Excalidraw | Hand-drawn look & feel • Collaborative • Secure

5. Build and Format your dashboard

Build the dashboard as you plan out in Tableau and format it, you can be as much creative as you like, as long as your dashboard is clear and easy to read for users. A few points to note on are:

  • Font: stick to Tableau fonts to be safe, and to ensure that when you publish to Tableau public, your fonts do not change unexpectedly. Did you use consistent font throughout your dashboard?
  • Color: be mindful of accessibility and inclusion, use colors that are friendly for color-blind audience.
  • Check if your charts are easy to understand, have you missed any legend? Did you use the same color for different things on your dashboard, which may confuse the audience?


1. Ah hah – oh no

Don’t worry if your plan does not work out. From my experience, there were lots of Oh No moments, normally following the Ah hah moments. Just do it, you need these first unsuccessful attempts to generate much better Ah hah moments and ideas. Most of the time, my initial ideas and charts did not work, they turned into simpler but more meaningful version, which conveyed the story so much better.

2. Browse Tableau Public for inspiration

This is one of my favorite steps in the process. Tableau community is amazing in supporting each other, so make sure to check out other people works for inspirations and ideas. By looking at different dashboards from different authors about the same topic, you can see how the data set is looked at from different lenses and perspectives. This would help you to generate your own ideas and stories that you would like to tell from the data set.

3. Ask for feedbacks from Data School and from people around you. After spending so much time with your work, a fresh eye will help a lot.

The Data School Recruitment team has been so helpful in providing feedbacks and helping me to improve my dashboard. Please do send them your dashboard for feedbacks, it will help you to make your dashboard even better.

4. Write down presentation script and practice through with the viz. There will be lots of adjustment to make as speaking and writing are different.

Practice, practice, practice! Practice presenting your dashboard by using it, not just looking at the script.

5. Real feedback from my own final interview:

I received this feedback from MIP Director Steve Hitchman, and I think it is an advice that I should pass on. I made a mistake of jumping straight onto presenting my dashboard straightaway, without an introduction about the angle of my analysis. There are a lot of angles from one same data set. Different analysts will analyze the same data from different views. To make it clear for the audience, you should introduce your angle of the dataset before presenting the charts and insights from your dashboard. It is great feedback and I really do hope it will help you.

It has been a great journey for me to join The Data School. I have learnt so much. I hope you do too, and we will see each other at The Data School very soon!

Thanks for reading. See you in my next blog.

The Data School
Author: The Data School