#Throwback Thursday - Data School Training Reflection

by Serena Purslow

I'm freshly 'graduated' from the Data School, and waiting to go on my first placement, so thought I'd take this time to reflect on my overall experience of training at the Data School.

The Training Program

The Data School training program consists of an intensive 17 weeks teaching from some of the best Tableau and Alteryx users out there. The goal - to turn eager data lovers into specialists in Tableau and Alteryx, ready to go out as consultants, and help others solve their data problems. Over the 17 weeks you are taken from the very foundations of data models and concepts, upon which you build skills in data cleansing, preparation, analysis and visualization in Tableau and Alteryx. In addition to this, you learn how to be a consultant, through various scenarios including 8 week long client projects, in which you are given a project brief, and the freedom to follow it however you think best. Other skills focuses include learning some SQL, Snowflake, and Power BI.

I have loved every second of my training at the Data School. I had always been interested in data and data analysis before joining, and had had some experience using things like R and Stata at university. My expectations on how much I would learn have been massively exceeded, and I can't believe how much my skill set has grown and developed over the past 4 months. This hasn't just been in terms of data related skills, but in other 'soft skills' too, such as communication, verbalizing my thoughts and ideas to others, and presenting information to an audience. I'm particularly pleased about the last one - before joining I hated presenting, and would get unbelievably nervous at even having to introduce myself to an unknown audience. I still get nervous, but my ability to present information in a direct, clear and informative manner has grown hugely, and I feel so much more confident getting up in front of a crowd and talking!  

Tableau and Alteryx

Before applying to the Data School, I'd never heard of Tableau or Alteryx. Over the course of my application I quickly became engrossed in Tableau, and couldn't wait to learn more about it. This hasn't changed. I find both Tableau and Alteryx addictive to use. The potential is limitless, not just in terms of your ability to learn more and gain new skills, but also to create things you've never imagined creating, and apply those skills in new contexts, for example transferring Tableau skills to Power BI.  

Alteryx has challenged my technical skills, and I'm just getting started with this really. I never thought that I'd be in a position to create macros for fun, but here we are! I loved art at school, it was my second favorite subject behind math. Tableau has really brought out my arty side, and given me the creative freedom to explore dashboard design and present data in ways that I wouldn't have thought of doing before. If you're someone who is interested in data, but also doesn't want to lose their creative streak, then Tableau might just be for you!

Now that I've finished training, and have a little time before moving onto my first placement, I'm hoping to expand my skill set further. I particularly want to focus on learning some basic Python skills, and creating a few more dashboards in Power BI.

The Team and overall Support

One of the highlights of my Data School experience, and something that I hadn't expected at all, was just how supportive and social the Information Lab is. The support network you are given is huge. At the lowest level starting the DS, you have your cohort with whom, over 4 months of training and projects, you inevitably grow close with. Then you have all the coaches, members of other cohorts, and friendly faces around the office. There is always someone on hand to help for whatever questions you may have. Aside from this, the Information Lab has it's own online social network which is an amazing place to find resources, ask questions and help others solve theirs. I don't think I know many people who's office has as strong a community feel as we have here!

The Overall Experience

On your first day at the Data School, everyone will tell you how quickly the 4 months are going to go. I just took it as one of those things that people always say, not really thinking about how quickly this all would actually go by. The advice was solid - it's honestly been the quickest 4 months of my life. I've learnt so much, and honestly had such a great time doing so. I'm looking forward to starting my placements and seeing where the Information Lab takes me in my career.