My first week at The Data School had already come and gone and I had already learnt so much. I’d like to use this blog post to summarise my experience during my first week at The Data School. I hope it helps future Data Schoolers understand what the first week at The Data School is like.


Monday, Introductions 

Monday started with an information overload. We were first introduced to people around the office, a detailed overview of the program, what we should expect as well as a tour of the office. Next came our introductions. Instead of introducing ourselves, we were tasked with getting to know the person next to us and introducing them. I always feel that introducing myself is awkward, so introducing someone else made it more comfortable. The task also had the added benefit of forcing us to get to know someone else. After lunch, we received our laptops and began setting them up and installing the software we would be trained on. Finally, we then ended the day with welcome drinks and had the opportunity to get to talk to other people. 


Tuesday-Thursday, An Introduction to Alteryx 

Tuesday was the first day of proper training. The three days between Tuesday to Thursday consisted of an introduction to Alteryx. As with the rest of the cohort, this was my first experience working with the software. To prepare, I went through an Alteryx tutorial for beginners on YouTube over the weekend to get to know the basics. This proved to be very helpful as it made the training throughout the week much easier. There were a lot of tools to learn and lots to remember over three days. However the exercises were well paced and support was available if we needed help. Additionally, we were guided on where to get help using the help guides and examples built into Alteryx.

Tip: Always document your workflows as it will help with the thought process of developing a workflow and it becomes much easier when it comes to presenting.


Friday, The First Project 

It was already Friday, but we had already learnt so much. It was time to apply our new Alteryx skills on our first project. We had only until 1pm to find a new data set and use Alteryx to blend the new data with the original data that we used in either one of our applications to The Data School and to present the workflow.  

My initial application was focused around SpaceX, summarising how they became so successful in such a short amount of time. My initial data source had already provided a lot of information that I didn’t initially use in my visualisation. Incorporating more data from that source would not meet the requirements of the project. At this point, I was wondering if this dashboard was useful to anyone other than those interested in space. My focus for the project then moved to answering the following questions: “Are people interested in SpaceX?” and “What makes people interested in SpaceX?”. To answer these questions, I used Google Trends as my additional data to track interest in the SpaceX over time.  

I spent the next hour and a half in Alteryx blending my new data source to the original data source. Since the Google Trends data was aggregated monthly, I needed to make sure my original data matched to properly blend. Overall, the training over the past three days provided us with a solid foundation to complete the project. I documented throughout building my workflow to get into the habit of sticking with best practices, and it also made it easier to explain when it was time to present. After completing the task, I had additional time to complete the optional task of taking the new blended dataset into Tableau and creating an additional visualisation. When moving the data into Tableau, everything came together perfectly. The visualisation I added was able to answer my questions which was something additional I could present. 


Alteryx Workflow

Alteryx Workflow


Alteryx Workflow

Tableau Visualisation


Once I had what I wanted to present, I started to prepare for the presentation. Presentations are not one of my strengths, so I took the time I had left to prepare notes to use for my presentation. I practiced my presentation a few times to ensure I could deliver it well and to get my timing right. To determine the order we presented in, we drew numbered balls from a bag and I picked number 2. When it came to presenting, I felt both nervous and confident since I was familiar with the topic and I had notes to refer to. I thought my presentation skills were lacking but I did get positive feedback on the structure of my presentation and documentation.  


Final Thoughts

Overall, I felt very welcomed and supported on my first week at The Data School. The pace of the training was perfect, yet we had learnt so much in only three days. The first project already helped me to develop important skills including applying what we just learnt in Alteryx, presentation skills, dealing with tight deadlines and time-boxing. It has been an exciting and rewarding week and I am looking forward to the weeks to come.

Ricky Cai
Author: Ricky Cai