Data School Application Tips

by Alfred Chan

Usually these kind of posts would be among the first few blog posts that DSers wrote. But I never felt I was good enough to give tips or advice to others during that period of time (Look up: Imposter Syndrome). But now as DS28 is about to finish trainings I finally feel a bit more confident in giving some advice regarding application towards the Data School. Hence I am writing this blog and hope to bring some useful information to anyone who is interested in applying or in the process of application.

The application process of this company is surely something you have never seen before. There is no requirement on your CV or any academic background, instead you would need to build dashboards from Tableau and to present them to the coaches of the DS. So here are some advice and tips for your application:

  1. Find a data set that you are interested in

Looking at something that you are interested in gives you extra motivation. You are not just working but also digging deeper into your own area of interest. In that case you would want to know more about the data, how to look at it and what area to look it.

But if you are out of ideas, there are also lots of resources like kaggle, tableau public resources or even going onto twitter for inspiration. Tableau has such a big community, inspiration is everywhere.

2. Loads of Youtube-ing

It is daunting to learn a software from scratch to get a job, and also takes huge effort. You might not know where to start, but as mentioned Tableau has such a big community, there are lots of free resources/ tutorial/ walk through on Youtube. It is also where I started my Tableau journey too. Even if you have some Tableau experience, it is a great place to learn some new tricks too!

3. The Dashboard itself

If you have already applied and started building charts. Here are some points to bear in mind:

  • Remember what kind of question your dashbaord is trying to answer
    • Sometimes we might easily jumped into a rabbit hole without knowing it
    • Always remind yourself every chart you built is for a specific purpose
  • Keep it simple and clean
    • Less is more: very important lesson we all learn throughout the training
    • I believe we are not looking for the most complicated dashboard in the world
    • Instead a clear and concise message is more important
  • Use colour sparingly
    • Colour is a useful tool, but also a tricky part
    • Use consistent colour to communicate your message
    • Do not use too many colours as it makes your dashboard look busy (and not nice)

4. Don't be afraid to ask for feedback!

This is probably the most vital part in the whole application process, when you are building dashboard. It is important for you to ask for feedback. But from who you might think, the truth is: could be anyone. What I did was I presented my dashboard to some of my friends who know absolutely nothing about the topic, data and data analysis. It is always good to have a fresh pair of eyes to look at it as they might come up with some questions that you might missed. You could even ask for feedback online, from Twitter, Linkedin or even direct message some people (I am sure some of the DSers love to give feedback as well). And one important thing the DS look at is how you react to the feedback, how you adapt to them and what kind of action you take to reflect on those feedback.

So I guess these are all the tips I have. In my opinion the whole application process was a great learning experience for me. And if you are reading it to try to get some application process tips or inspiration I hope you find it useful. If you are still thinking where to start, I would suggest download Tableau Public and give it a go!