2018 Data Reflections

by Ellie Mason


2018 has been a big year for me, data wise, so I thought it was apt to reflect back before moving forward with some goals into 2019. This seemed especially relevant today, given that I’ve just passed the Tableau QA Exam! Like my half way through blog, this will also serve as another milestone (only a month to go in training) to measure my data growth and to see how my journey is evolving through the Data School process.


The Data School

A massive highlight of my 2018 was applying, getting in and joining The Data School. The past three months have been incredible and to say I’ve learnt a lot is definitely an understatement! And not just Tableau and Alteryx – I feel like my presenting, networking and time management skills are all developing too. It’s been great getting to know people at The Information Lab: there is seriously so much knowledge there and the openness and friendless to help is so amazing.

It has been such a great opportunity so far and I’m so excited for the next few months. I’ll get to cement my Tableau and Alteryx knowledge and then in February I will start my first placement: scary but exciting times ahead!



I was technically first introduced to Tableau at the end of 2017, but didn’t actually start using it until around May 2018. As many do, I hailed from a background of using Excel and PowerPoint in my job as a market researcher so Tableau was such a refreshing, fun tool to play around with. Not only did I enjoy playing around with it, I could really see the potential in it and learning more, so applied to the Data School and luckily got in!

At the DS my Tableau skills developed, but my enjoyment using it has also grown too. I love that I’m able to create more and more of what’s in my head when it comes to the visualisation and story within the data. I feel like my data viz skills have also improved through the use of many a piece of paper and multiple coloured post-it notes!

A big Tableau 2018 highlight of mine was getting Viz of The Day (#VOTD) for a viz that was part of Day 1 of Dashboard week. The data looks at which streets were snow plowed the most during a snow storm in NYC and is so exciting to see my content on the public gallery.  The pressures on to create more vizes in 2019! (Viz and blog post here).



I also experienced Alteryx for the first time in late 2018, discovering and learning it through the Data School. I was very pleasantly surprised with how much I got on well with Alyeryx. After the first couple of months analysing and cleaning data in Alteryx I really love it. Going from never using it before to being able to create macros and perform statistical and spatial analysis is amazing. The satisfaction and gamification of the Alteryx Weekly Challenges has also been very fun.

The last couple of weeks at The Data School have been slightly more Tableau focused, so I’m looking forward to diving back into Alteryx later this week when we learn about Regex. Here’s to, hopefully, passing the Alteryx exam in January.



DS11 taught over a couple of days earlier this month: Learn what the Data School learns. This was terrifying when it was first announced to us. We were the guinea pigs as this hadn’t been done before, as ‘usually’ the current DSers teach DSers from older cohorts. I put my hand up to teach spatial analytics because as a geographer being able to show people the amazing spatial capabilities is really interesting. The day itself was nerve wracking, and despite a technical hitch leading to the first half of my lesson plan being thrown out the window, I think I did okay!

We’ve got webinars of these coming up in January so look out for those! This will be another great opportunity to develop teaching and presenting skills, across another medium. I think these skills will come in handy during our placements as we will have to train people in Tableau and Alteryx, and this could be delivered remotely so I’m looking forward to the chance to test this out before the ‘real thing’.


Blogging and networking

Whilst I had a twitter account, I didn’t actually use it that much. Similarly with blogging – I’d always wanted to start a blog but never actually got around to publishing any content. That all changed in the later part of 2018, as both are essential components of The Data School and the data community. Again I surprised myself with how much I enjoyed blogging about data/ Tableau/ Alteryx, I never thought I would. Also, actively participating in the Tableau community on Twitter (@elliekmason) is really fun and I think it will only get better with more participation so I definitely want to make more of this in 2019.

I went to my first Tableau User Group this year too, and almost made it to an Alteryx one. The Tableau one was really fun, as they had a guest speaker (Cole Knaflic: Storytelling With Data) and it was really interesting to hear more about data best practices and some great tips. Chatting to people before and after is a good way to enter the community.


A few 2019 Goals

I feel like you can’t look back without looking forward so here are a few data goals I’m setting myself – because hopefully having them written down holds me accountable!

  1. Pass the Alteryx Core exam
  2. Attend as many TUG and AUGs as I can
  3. Talk at a Tiny Tableau Talks event
  4. Work on and publish at least one viz for myself every month – look out for the Gin and Strava ones!
  5. Regularly complete MakeoverMondays/ Workout Wednesdays
  6. Complete more Alteryx Weekly Challenges
  7. Continue to participate in the community on Twitter
  8. Potentially start a personal blog to continue to write

Fri 01 Feb 2019

Fri 01 Feb 2019

Fri 01 Feb 2019

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