Finishing Training at The Data School (DS23) - Tips for Future Cohorts

by Henry Mak

Wow. Training's over and I'm off to my first placement. That was quick. I remember talking to my mentor about how the first month flew by and that felt like yesterday.

I feel a mixed bag of emotions. Excitement, nervousness, happiness and sadness to name a few. But importantly, I'm ready. I've written the following quote in a previous blog post about my Alteryx exam:

... a bird can sit on a branch and is never worried about the branch snapping. Because even if it does, it trusts its own ability to adapt and to fly... I trust in my ability and I trust the teaching of the trainers at the DS

And it's still true in this case.

In training I've achieved what I had set out to do in my biography:

... Henry hopes to learn and develop a lot at The Data School. He looks forward to being able to utilise both his soft and hard skills to deliver actionable insights for organisations and individuals

I've learnt so much and made such great progress in these four short months! It'd be hard for me to name all the aspects. More than just Tableau and Alteryx, that's for sure. Off the top of my head, I'd like to give a big thanks and appreciations to my mentor, Peter S; Andy & Carl; DS23; and any other trainer at TIL that has taught or helped me.

But this journey's not over. This is just the beginning. Four placements and two more years at The Data School/The Information Lab.

Now that I've completed this part of the programme, I'd like to pass on some knowledge for future cohorts.

1. You will struggle in some things and do well in others

One thing I remember struggling with was RegEx. It didn't come easily and as expected it was like learning a new language. However, I didn't back down and I spent some time outside of training brushing up on it. I'm by no means a RegEx expert but I've improved massively from before.

There's also been things which I've excelled at, for example in the SQL and Snowflake training.

Your journey in training will have its ups and downs.

2. Imposter syndrome

There's been flashes of imposter syndrome affecting me whilst training. One specific example was when we were asked to teach to the cohort and in our Train the Trainer session. In this scenario, the imposter syndrome hit because I have some background in teaching and I began selling myself short -- perhaps as a defence mechanism.

Throughout training you will gain more and more confidence but in any case make sure you back yourself! This is a very important skill for when you finish training, and also life in general. You must understand that you're in the programme because you're amazing. Don't compare yourself to others but to yourself only.

3. Get adequate rest

Training is very exhausting. Make sure you're getting enough sleep and downtime.

It can be hard but do try to disconnect your mind from work in the evening. This will help you in the long run.

4. Weeks 5-9 will be the most intense

There were many big things happening and I found that, by far, these weeks were the hardest. Make sure you take care of yourself, in all aspects.

5. Ask for help and ask for help early

You will inevitably be stuck on something. When this happens, ask for help whether from your go-to person and/or on Convo. Someone will be willing to help you. The earlier you ask, the better the outcome for everyone.

6. Socials within your cohort are important

In these four months of training you'll be working closely together with your cohort. Naturally, you'll be forming some great professional relationships and personal friendships. I would definitely recommend organising socials with your cohort or even with other cohorts.

7. Get blogging

From day 1 you'll be introduced to blogging during The Data School. My tip would be as consistent with it as possible and make it a habit. The more you do it, the easier and faster it gets.

One reason I have written a lot of blog posts is so I can see what I've learnt during training. Even though training went by quickly, I'm able to look back and easily see that I've learnt a hell of a lot over the past 4 months.

Even now, I look at some of the blog posts I've made in order to re-jog my memory on how to do things.

8. The first few projects, both internal and external will feel very stressful

I remember how I felt during these projects. Very stressed. You'll probably feel the same too. But know that it's all part of the process. It's normal and you will adjust as you gain more confidence. As I've mentioned in a previous blog post, the feelings that you feel are not so bad because it shows that you care.

My blog posts about my first internal and external projects:

DS23: My journey so far… 1 week in

A Reflective Log of My First Client Project

9. Make the most of it

Throughout training (and also post-training) you will come across many opportunities. Make sure you grab these with both hands!

10. Enjoy the ride

Time will fly and it'll be over before you know it.

If we want to continue to build
We have to respect the come up
Look how far you've come
Respect the journey
Count the blessings, accept the changes
Appreciate the highs and the lows
For the good and the bad days all make us who we are today
There is no ups without downs
The struggle will help you respect your own journey
Respect when you see someone who comes from nothing
And turns it into something
Now, that's everything.

- Meeks (2021)

Side note: Sad to say that this will be my penultimate blog post at The Data School :( It's been fun! My next post will be a catalogue of all of my blogs written during training, so you can easily find them all.

If you'd like to connect then check out the links below!

- Henry Mak (DS23, Tableau & Alteryx Consultant)

Tableau Public