Joining The Data School Virtually: Expectations vs Reality

by Janasobini Vetharuban

Although our training was due to start in April, me and my fellow cohortians in DS20 have had a delayed start, due to some unforeseen circumstances (*cough cough*, corona-virus). This meant that we were the first EVER Data School cohort to begin training remotely, which seemed equally daunting and exciting. The whole experience of starting up remotely was very interesting for me, so I wanted to share a few things I expected before the virtual training and how it actually turned out to be…

  1. I don’t know if I’ll have everything I need for when I start training online…aaah.

I was sent a nice big box of goodies with all the essentials I needed for remote training, from laptop and headset to pens and notebooks. The Data School provide you with absolutely everything you need prior to training. I mean EVERYTHING.

  1. Networking and getting to know everyone at the company might be a bit difficult/awkward when it’s not face-to-face.

In fact, it was actually the opposite! Prior to starting training, I was added onto the the company’s internal communication platform, Convo, through which I was welcomed into the company with such enthusiasm that it felt like I was already part of the team. 

  1. If I’m stuck on something or don’t know what to do, I have no one to go to since I don’t know anyone well enough.

Wrong. Everyone at The Information Lab is dedicated to helping you. Within Convo, there are dedicated groups such as Internal CoE where you can post any questions you may have and it will be answered right away. Although I’ve only been training for a few days, I’ve come to realize that no matter what you need help on, there’s always someone approachable. Any answer is just a Convo post or Zoom call away.

  1. I’ll be more productive at home now since I’ll be spending less time commuting.

True to some extent, but working at home also meant I had to deal with working in my chaotic household, especially when you’re getting constant error messages on Alteryx and trying to figure out why. I was able to overcome this by isolating myself from the chaos in a dedicated working space for training, which in turn helped me work productively without any distractions.

  1. Learning how to use complex data analytics tools through video calls? Is that even going to work??

Surprisingly, it’s working well so far. We’ve been using Zoom meetings for our Alteryx training sessions thus far, which has been extremely helpful. The video call function combined with the ability to share our screens during training meant me and my cohort were able to keep up with Carl’s teachings as he provides an on-screen demo, while also being able to follow along ourselves. This also made it easier when anyone hit some sort of problem, as we were able to just quickly share our screen to figure out a solution together and I actually learnt a lot from these!

These first few days of remote training have been better than I ever anticipated. Although it’s unsure when I’ll be getting back to the office, virtual training has been exciting and beneficial in so many ways. I look forward to working alongside such amazing people for the next 4 months!

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