Data School Application Tips

by Ben Connor

Having just started my second week at The Data School I thought I would make my first blog post a quick overview of what to expect when going through the application process.

First off, the process is a little different to most that you may be used to, there is no requirement for you to send a CV or any formal education requirements (Degree etc..). It instead encourages you to find a piece of data that interests you (it can be anything from Pokemon stats to public health data!) and turn it into an interesting dashboard that you can draw insights from using Tableau – a software tool dedicated to data visualisation.

Lots of interesting data sources can be found from the below websites if you’re in need of ideas:



Where is the love sung by The Black Eye Peas recreated in a tunnel underpass.
Photo by Emily Morter / Unsplash

There are lots of online tutorials and information to help you get started not only on the Tableau and Tableau Public websites, but also on YouTube! Checking out the ‘Watch me Viz’ series which is ran by one of the head coaches of The Data School can be helpful with finding some inspiration, his YouTube channel also contains lots of great tutorials - search 'Andy Kriebel'.

I’d first recommend experimenting with the software a little to get to grips with some of the features before you dive in building your first ‘Viz’ (Visualisation).

Once you’re happy that you have a basic understanding of the software then you can begin work on your dashboard. Example dashboards from successful applicants can be found on ‘The Data School’ website, I would definitely have a look at these for ideas to get a feel for what you can aim for.

Some useful tips for your first visualisation based on my experience:

· Keep it simple – overcrowded dashboards can be confusing

· Try to use space efficiently, avoid large blank areas

· Keep in mind a key message for the dashboard, try to stick to this throughout

· Highlight key information for visibility, using colour can be helpful to draw attention to critical info

The most important thing once your viz is complete is to ask for feedback, this gives you the opportunity to not only improve your viz but also get more ideas. Twitter can be a great place to start (use #DataFam) but additionally sending it to The Information Lab (who run The Data School) as part of your application early can help you gain invaluable advice from one of their consultants.

In my opinion, the main benefit of this style of application process is that you can gain a new skill in learning one of the top BI tools in the industry whilst completing your application, the easiest way to begin (and the way I started) is just to download Tableau Public (free software version) and give it a go!