My Story

I began my professional career as a junior design engineer for Armor Australia, where I gained valuable skills and experiences. However, I realized that engineering design principles were not my strongest suit compared to my colleagues, and work wasn’t enjoyable anymore. Seeking a career change, I spoke to my manager at the time, who gave me wise advice, saying,

“I think you are doing the right choice. You are a smart guy, but you just got to find something you can bite your teeth into and really enjoy.” -RM

This statement resonated with me, and I started searching for other options, which led me to data analytics.

Why I joined the Data School?

My friend Eric Loi has been giving high praise about the data school and decided to refer me to the program. The key factors that made me eager to join the program were:

  1. 4-month intense training period All fundamentals of data analytics are taught to you. Stepping into a new career can be daunting as you don’t feel equipped with the necessary skills.
  2. Development in a plethora of skills You get exposed to the best Tableau and Alteryx training and also development in other non-technical skills such as public speaking and blogging for your brand.
  3. 7 weeks of client projects during the training period Conducting practical examples in the workforce whilst in the classroom environment is really appealing, especially when compared to university where a lot of the theory is outdated and not applicable to most companies.
  4. Up to 4 x 6-month placements The opportunity to experience different industries and fast-track your resume is fantastic.
  5. It has a great company culture and support network. There is no lack of support when it comes to problems with its alumni network. Everyone wants you to develop and better yourself.

Overall, I thought this opportunity was just a great stepping stone for my personal and career development and decided to hop on.

First Stage

For this stage, we were tasked with finding our own dataset and creating a dashboard and story from it. I chose one of my favorite hobbies, a card game called Magic the Gathering, and with no training at all, created my first dashboard and sent it in. I sent it on the second last day before it was due, which was highly inadvisable as you are unable to get feedback.

LINK: 1st Dashboard Submission

Despite how late I sent it in and how poor it was, Alex Taylor Jackson was still nice enough to give me a chance to improve upon it and hand in a secondary application a week after the due date. I am very grateful for his patience and believing in me, and I was determined to get this job more than ever. If Alex was going to put time and energy into me despite the cut-off day and the quality of work, then I knew I had to try much harder.

Armed with feedback from my friend Eric and Alex and looking at previous cohorts’ dashboards, I came in with a plan to tackle my second submission. I managed to produce the following dashboard.

I was much prouder of this work, and so was the Data School, and they provided me an interview opportunity which I passed by having solid storytelling and interesting insights.

Final Stage

For this stage, we were given a financial dataset on charities and not-for-profit organizations. This dataset was about 15 times more fields than my initial dataset, and so I was very overwhelmed. Some tactics I employed/lessons I learned while tackling this problem included:

  • Spend a significant amount of time on the story component. I didn’t want to put the interviewers to sleep by doing an everyday story such as “examine the trends of every different charity group.” I brainstormed with friends and family for 4-5 days on an interesting story. This was a constant back and forth as I realized sometimes the story isn’t supported by the data. Eventually, I recalled the issue of the aging population of Australia, and I wanted to link that with the aged care charity groups.
  • Understand every field in the dataset. This is related to the above points as I made the mistake of thinking the dataset could describe my story. Fortunately, the dataset was small enough to manually understand every field, and my direction was made much clearer after understanding the data.
  • Create a dashboard with the presentation environment in mind. My first iteration of the dashboard was a story dashboard with a lot of words (similar to my first interview). After feedback, I greatly reduced the amount of text as this is a dashboard I will be presenting in person, and I would do the explanations in person.
  • Put significant effort into the presentation. This point is more of a reflection as I noticed the interviewers were more interested in the storytelling and how I delivered my story than the pretty charts I had made.

Link: 2nd Dashboard Submission

Reflections of the application process

This was my first time where I had decided to join a company in a tech field, and they are known to have a technical component where you must prove yourself. This felt fairer as everyone was on an even playing field, especially for the second interview stage. I greatly enjoyed the interviewing process and hope they continue it in the future, and believe that other companies should adopt it.

Thank you for reading my first blog 🙂

Nam Nguyen
Author: Nam Nguyen