DS11 out...for now

by Ellie Mason

The time is here! Today we, DS11, ‘graduate’ and finish the training portion of time at the Data School. The last four months have absolutely flown by.

At the mid-point of the training I wrote about the things I’d learnt in the first half, so here I’m going to reflect on some things from the second half of the training.



Though it may seem obvious – 6 months ago, when I was applying to the Data School, I never thought I’d be where I am now. I always loved data as well as learning new technologies so to be able to say I’ve now passed exams in two of the leading software is so incredible.

I’ve really enjoyed the challenge of getting to grips with both and my aim is to keep pushing myself and to hopefully take both sets of the next exams by end of the year!

Other skills

The DS is such a great launching place for these programs, but also for softer skills like presenting and project management.

I always thought I was relatively good at presenting, due to practice at University and various projects in previous jobs. But, through the Data School and various guest speakers (like Tableau’s very own Train the Trainer given by Jason Rochin), I’ve realised that I shift around and cross my feet a little, or I didn’t interact with the presentation materials enough, and I definitely spoke too quickly! After the last 4 months, where we’ve had regular client projects and even teaching the public, I’m a lot more confident when presenting.

Project and time management skills were also developed, as well as blogging! I’ve mentioned it before but I’m not quite sure how it’s happened but I’ve loved blogging. I feel that I’ve really found my voice and hopefully the posts will come in handy to data users.

Constant development

A great thing about a community like both the Tableau and Alteryx, as well as The Information Lab’s own one, is that it’s such a rich source for inspiration and new things to learn.

It’s exciting (and a little daunting!) to think that our training doesn’t stop now that we’re not in the classroom. Whilst they’ll be less time for direct learning at our placements, further development is still something to achieve in our spare time.

A tip I heard from someone, possibly Tom Brown, was to find 5 inspirational workbooks on Tableau Public to download and learn their techniques. I plan to definitely employ this, as well as catch up on the Alteryx Weekly challenges!

Fluidity and feedback

The flexibility throughout the DS has been great. It means that the program and it’s contents are always updating and if there are more specific things you’d like to cover you can. I really wanted to learn how Andy and Carl went about creating dashboards: from first looks at the data, to asking questions, to creating something amazing that told the story. So I suggested that could be a really cool session and it was added into the curriculum! Another thing my cohort wanted to focus on was set actions and interactivity – which was also added in.

Whilst the flexibility can be great, it also means that there are times when either things don’t happen to plan, or plans change. The DS has started to feed back with us on this, having monthly sessions to keep on track of the learning curriculum/ environment. I think this is great because it’s a mutual environment and everyone benefits from improvement.

In it together

The Information Lab is an incredible environment to learn in. The skills, knowledge, and transparency within the company is amazing. Having core team members and DSers in the same office is great as if we were ever stuck then they really took the time out and helped us.

Learning in a small group of 9 for 4 months has meant that DS11 have really got to know each other. Whilst at times I’m sure we wanted a break, it’s been really fun and I’ll definitely miss seeing them everyday.

The overlap of cohorts also gives an interesting environment. It’s been great getting to know DS10 and DS12, though it took a little whilst to get used to the change from being the ‘younger’ cohort to the ‘older’!

Thanks DS11 – it’s been great learning Tableau and Alteryx with you! Good luck with your first placement and here’s to learning all together again during our back to school weeks

I’m also not going to say goodbye because as I mentioned earlier, TIL will always be there and we’ll be coming back as DS11 for back to school week every 6 months…so it’s a ‘Goodbye for now’!

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