16 weeks have passed in usual fashion – quickly. However, these past 16 weeks have been unusual, or perhaps better described as unique. That is the best way I can summarise the four month training component of The Data School – unique. My time so far in The Data School is unlike anything I have done previously and likely, unlike anything I will do going forward. It has been intense, rewarding, worthwhile, challenging and most of all, indisputably enjoyable. And here is why.
As you would expect, a huge part of the last four months has involved in-depth training of our technical skills – in particular Alteryx and Tableau. If I think back to my mindset on Day One, I can explicitly remember how apprehensive I was going into the office. With a non-technical professional background I was concerned I would struggle to keep up with the rest of the cohort, who all had experience in programming and similar tools. Sitting here 16 weeks later I can safely say; regardless of your background, if you truly enjoy working with data and problem solving, The Data School is for you. I have gone from knowing nothing beyond Excel to becoming confident in a range of extremely relevant programs and the reason why – I was passionate every step along the way. It’s easy to learn and evolve your skillset when you’re genuinely interested in the subject matter.
Beyond the comprehensive training we received for technical skills, we also were exposed to soft skills. This wasn’t something I necessarily expected going into the program, but was definitely a crucial part of our education. We spent a lot of time on project management and client requirements, crucial skills for a consultant. Beyond this we presented work either to clients or the rest of The Data School every Friday. I can not stress enough how vital this was in developing our presentation skills and story telling ability. At the start of my time at The Data School I considered presenting as one of my strengths. Now, at the conclusion of my training, I realise just how much I still had (and still have) to learn. As a cohort our presentation skills, in particular our focus on delivering quality insights to clients, has improved exponentially. It’s easy to get wrapped up in learning technical skills and neglect soft skills, but at the end of the day without soft skills you don’t make much of a consultant.
I mentioned client projects briefly in soft skills, but they definitely deserve their own paragraph. I can’t emphasise enough how important these client projects were for preparing us for the real deal. For those of you reading who aren’t aware of what they entail; over the course of the past 16 weeks we had 7 client projects. We were given a brief on the Monday and spent the week working to meet the brief for a presentation on the Friday. Furthermore, during this week we would also undergo additional training, which made client project weeks extra time hungry. Looking back at the first client project, I was the project lead for this one, and comparing it to our most recent client project, highlights just how far we’ve come. Not just our technical skills (although these have improved drastically), but also how much better we have become at managing workloads and working as a team. As they should, these client projects represent the culmination of everything we have learned and how much we have developed to date.
Before I conclude this blog, I want to recognise all the people that made the journey so worthwhile. This wouldn’t have been such an amazing experience without the cohort of fantastic people that went through this journey with me. And of course a big thank you to the coaches Craig and David, for not only teaching us everything we know, but also being incredibly patient while doing so. Thanks for reading, if you’re curious about The Data School and do want to know more, don’t hesitate to reach out to me on LinkedIn, here.