University vs The Data School, My Transition

by Kolsuma Aktar

Hi all! I’m Kolsuma from DS13 and I’ve just finished my first week at The Data School. Over the next few months I’ll be taking you with me during my training here, I hope you enjoy reading and learn a thing or two! I’ll also be attempting to digitally paint the featured photos myself when appropriate.

Although I have had internships, work experiences and part-time jobs, I would count this is my first “proper” job after graduating from BSc Economics and Management in summer 2018. I should probably point out that although The Data School includes a great training programme, it is a workplace not a school (yes I know ‘school’ is in the name!) so not all areas can be compared to a university but here’s some aspects I found myself comparing during my first week:


First things first, lets get sleeping and eating patterns out of the way. As a university student, there was no right time to sleep or eat; as long as I had enough energy to get to my classes on time, I was good. As you’re already aware, with a 9 to 5 job, this way of living isn’t sustainable. I’ve learnt a great deal already and have met lots of people in just my first week, and I definitely wouldn’t be able to retain all this new information with my old methods of sleeping.

Teaching and Support

My experience at university will obviously be different to others. I had found that I enjoyed classroom seminars and tutorials far more than lectures because they were in smaller groups and more loosely structured. Some lectures were simply reading PowerPoints, but I can understand why it would be difficult to keep a room of over 100 students engaged in a lecture room.

The Data School trains you for four months in cohorts of 8 or 9 Data Schoolers, so you can really get to know the coaches and your colleagues. It helps that everyone at The Data School is passionate about data visualisation, and this passion definitely comes across in the coaches’ teaching styles. They keep the classes engaging and there’s always opportunities for us to ask questions, in fact asking questions is encouraged heavily at The Data School! In addition, the other Data School cohorts are all genuinely willing to help whether it’s in person or on Convo (a communication platform) where the help of experts is literally a few taps away. In terms of teaching and learning support, I could not ask for more!

The people

I made a really great group of friends while at university, but not everyone I met was enthusiastic or bothered to even give a hello. 80% of people I saw or spoke to during a normal day at university were just there to get their classes and work done and then leave. Most people seemed to be in a rush to be somewhere. Obviously during society events and extra curricular talks/lectures this wasn’t the case, as everyone was actually there to socialise. But in my one week at the information lab, everyone I have met has been so kind and just, well, everyone seems so happy! It’s a really great atmosphere to be in and the happiness is contagious, you’ll see for yourself if you ever come to a meet and greet. Everybody stops to say hello, and everyone I’ve met has been very welcoming. I never imagined a workplace like this to exist, but it really does and I love it already.


Yes, food deserves it’s own section. There’s a kitchen and a seating area at The Data School but sadly there’s no food served here (which isn’t really shocking), so obviously my university wins on this one. But does it really? I don’t remember exact prices but I remember not being able to afford the prices at my university canteen, so I either ate packed lunch or at nearby shops, which is basically what I’ve been doing at The Data School! So far I’ve been recommended a great little burrito stall and a pasta shop and both taste great!

Thanks for reading 🙂

Photo by yours truly

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