DS23: My journey so far… 1 week in

by Henry Mak

Hi everyone, welcome to my first (edit: second) blog post! In this post I’ll be giving a short introduction to myself, a summary of my first week at The Data School and some of my thoughts on the future.

Before the data school:

I’m from Essex and before The Data School I graduated from the University of Nottingham with a degree in Physics. Professionally, I’ve worked in numerous industries including teaching, retail, and entertainment. However, shortly after I graduated I found myself wanting to work with data again, an area I had a particular interest in during my modules on experimental physics.

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, I decided to upskill in many things such as SQL and Tableau. I suppose one upside of the pandemic was that it gave me a lot of time to develop myself in multiple ways.

After creating a few visualisations, I shared on LinkedIn my experiences and lessons learned up to that point:

When shortly after, a friend told me about an opportunity at a place called The Data School. The company and the role seemed like a perfect fit. From then on I grabbed it with both hands and applied for DS21, and was offered a place on DS23. For anybody reading this who are early on in their professional lives -- don’t underestimate your network!

The first week

On the first day I booted up the work laptop and jumped onto Zoom for a session on setting up the tech with Craig (CTO). That was the plan anyways... I accidentally went onto the wrong zoom link and went into DS22’s project kick off call! After swiftly exiting that call, I joined the correct Zoom call and met everybody in my cohort. Exciting times!

Following that we also had many more introductory sessions throughout the week. These included meeting Andy (Head Coach), Carl (The Other Head Coach), Tom (Founder and MD) and Claire (HR). We also got a chance to meet and have a chat with Erica and Luke from DS20 where they passed some wisdom onto us.

In terms of learning, this week was taught by Carl and Chris (TIL Account Manager) where we got to grips with some theory about Data Prep & Alteryx Fundamentals.

The thing about Alteryx is that I’ve never used it before joining The Data School. If I remember correctly, all of our cohort had never used it previously. For me, the only thing that even remotely comes close to it is a software called LabVIEW. But that wasn’t even a data preparation tool! From first impressions Alteryx seems like a very powerful tool; I look forward to using it more over the coming weeks. Hopefully no more manually editing datasets on Excel -- huzzah!

On Friday at 9am we were given our first project by Carl:

So this was why Carl had asked us earlier on in the week what our initial applications were about…

If you’re curious, my original application was about the use of stop and search, more specifically by the Metropolitan Police. If you’d like to see the original application then click on this link. The addition I made to this dashboard was that I wanted to see if stop and search was actually effective, so the additional data was about arrest rates following a stop and search.

1 PM struck and it was time to present my work to the coaches and DS22. Even though it was done over Zoom, I won’t lie I was feeling nervous. It felt like as if I was doing the presentation in person.


I managed to pull through and felt like I did quite well! I think what helped me the most was the idea that no one was there to catch me out and that they wanted to see me do well and succeed. On top of that I utilised my past experiences in presenting/public speaking such as using mindfulness techniques to ground myself. Hopefully more exposure to presentations over Zoom (which will probably be a part of our working lives for the foreseeable future) will help me out in this aspect.

After my cohort’s presentations were over it was time to watch DS22’s presentation for their client project. Even though I might not have known fully what was going on in terms of the context or technical details, there was a lot to take away and I learnt a lot. All I will say is that I was taking down a lot of notes.

Looking forward:

It’s been pretty surreal starting a job virtually, let alone during a pandemic (Perhaps that will be a blog post for another time?). I definitely look forward to stepping into office for the first time, and meeting everyone in person.

But in any case, so far, it’s been pretty great and things have been promising. Let's see what the coming weeks and months hold!

Tableau Public



Image by Chris Montgomery