Top Tips for Virtual Training

by Hannah Millington

I started training with The Data School in February 2020 as part of DS19. After 6 weeks of training we unfortunately had to start working from home due to Covid-19. We have now just finished our 14th week of training (8th week of being at home) and so we have been virtual for the majority of our training now.

There are certainly positives to be trained in person, in a classroom with everyone else in your cohort. Communication is undoubtedly easier when in person and I personally find it a lot easier to ask questions when in a classroom environment. However, this is not to say that training hasn’t been effective virtually and below are some tips on how to get the most out of training when not in a physical classroom.

1. Colleague Relationships:

A major aid to switching to virtual learning for me was that I’d already been able to create relationships with everyone in my cohort as well as the trainers and other members of TIL. We’d had 6 weeks to get to know each other and to socialize outside of the workplace. This meant that it has never been awkward over zoom and I feel comfortable messing up in front of everyone and asking questions. (I think everyone in our cohort feels the same and we’re lucky that we all get on so well). So, my main tip would be to take the time to get to know each other outside of lessons, this includes other members of TIL. This will not only help through training but also when you are on placement.

2. Dedicated Working Space:

Although this may be difficult if you’re in a flat in central London, I have found it really important to have a separate space to work in my flat. At uni I would study at the desk in my bedroom but with my bed less than a metre away it was way too tempting to lie down and subsequently take a nap. I make sure that I am not working in my bedroom which helps to separate my working and relaxing mindsets.

3. Regular Breaks:

I have found it harder to stay focused working from home than when in the office so taking regular breaks to stretch your legs and get a drink are very important. Everyone who we have had training us so far has been really good to take breaks every 40-60 minutes which definitely helps maintain concentration levels.

4. Two Screens:

It became apparent that having two screens/laptops would be essential to keeping up with the training and being able to follow along. I started using my personal and work laptop on our second day of virtual training. This allows me to watch the lesson/work through and follow along at the same time. I think everyone in my cohort has acquired a second screen now and it really does help. (TIL are happy to expense the cost of a second monitor if you need it – check Convo for the information).

5. Get Fresh Air:

I am very guilty of just slobbing about after my workday but it makes a huge difference to get outside and have a walk, even if its just to the shops in the evening. It is difficult to want to go out during the lockdown, but we are entitled to go outside once a day and I would recommend taking advantage of this. Although I don’t massively miss my commute, I do miss the walk to the station and office. I have now morphed into a blob as I barely move during work hours, so use your lunch break and evening to get some fresh air.

They are my top tips for starting training virtually to help you get the most out of the experience. If you are starting with The Data School, I wish you the best of luck and hope you enjoy the experience as much as I have!