1. Something about me

I graduated from Monash University as a Data Scientist in 2020. Back then, I have been working as a night-time employee for a supermarket while doing my study in the morning. I used to have around 3 nights a week to sleep. Things were very tough and I wanted to give up my dream many times. I kept reminding myself that a better day will come as soon as I graduate from Uni, for that reason I have tried my best every single day.

After my graduation, I have applied for jobs in many places. I eventually landed a few interviews, and process to the next round. Unfortunately, the pandemic hit. The chance for me to find a job in my field has become harder and harder. More people with better qualifications than me started to apply for entry positions, the ones for which they are way overqualified. Simply because they didn’t have many options so I basically don’t stand a chance against them. I have a friend who told me that he got laid off after a few weeks after he got his offer. Things are getting worse day by day. Especially in Victoria, we had to endure many months of state-wide lockdown. The job market simply isn’t very promising for a fresh graduate without any industry experience like myself. The passion in me has started to die out. I have prepared to give up my dream any day now.

2. The Data School

Then I found the ad for The Data School on Seek. My first thought was that the outcome would be similar to many other jobs I have applied for previously. But I told myself that one last try won’t hurt. I have submitted my application with the viz I have created as my very first attempt when I discovered Tableau. I was very happy that my viz have made a good impression which allowed me to process to the next round.

The next round required us to visualise a preset dataset that will showcase how we understand the data and a chance to sell ourselves. Below are steps that I have taken to be successful:

  • Get to know the dataset: I opened the dataset to see what is every column representing. What is the data type of each column? Which columns we can ignore? The most important thing is “to understand what the dataset is about, what it is trying to tell us”.
  • Plan your strategy: I had 10 days from the day I received the dataset to the day my presentation is taking place. I allocated 1 to 2 days to look for inspiration on Tableau Public and roughly draft how my viz going to look like. The most important thing was “what is the story I want to tell”. You have to focus on that story so that your viz will make an impression. Please remember, don’t try to cover everything, pick a story and stick with it.
  • Build your viz: this step will be the hardest if you didn’t have a rough idea of what is the story you want to tell from the previous step. There are a lot of ways to tell a story, the best way for a beginner like me was to look at a lot of examples. You can find all of them on Tableau Public. Also, there are many free and helpful articles you can look at, for example, Best Practices for Effective Dashboards and 7 tips and tricks from the dashboard experts. I found them extremely helpful for me to reduce chart-junks and clusters. Remember to follow the “KISS” method, which stands for “keep it simple, stupid”. Don’t overcomplicate the chart.
  • Ask for help/opinion from others: other people might give a better insight and suggestions. Always ask for a third-party opinion. If your friends like your viz, the chance are the interviewers will like it as well. You should allocate 5 to 7 days for this step and the previous step. You will tweak your viz many times, stick with your story.
  • Practice and Practice: I can’t stress enough how important that you have practised well for the interview. You can’t let the interviewers see you come unprepared. You will receive a big “NO”. Rehearse your presentation in front of your friends/family members as many times as you can. Please do not spend less than a day on this step.
  • Lastly, please feel relaxed and be confident: my interviewers are super nice and friendly. I can tell you that they are the nicest interviewers I have ever encountered. There is no right or wrong answer because this isn’t an exam. You have to show them the passion for data. That you will work as hard as you can when you get into the program.

In the end, I am extremely happy that I can be part of the program. In my opinion, what The Data School trying to do is revolutionary. It is completely different from a traditional recruiting process. The candidates are hand-picked based on their passion for data and their abilities instead of their school’s marks or online recruiting tests. I hope you can learn a thing or two from my experience. If you have a passion for data, you are already 50% successful. The other 50% will be determined by how confident you are and how well you sell yourself. Good luck with your journey to The Data School.