How To Get The Most Out Of The Data School #ReflectiveBlog

by Michael McFadden

Top Tips


Tip 1 – Help Each Other

The Data School is a brilliant place, hosting a variety of very intelligent people from different backgrounds. There are a lot of strong personalities as you would expect from a place with the best in the business and luckily we all got on well in our cohort. I came to the DS expecting a competition from people that were perfectly capable of competing with me. What happened instead was much better…  we all realised early on that this isn’t a competition. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses in a group, some people find Alteryx easier/better/more fun, and some prefer Tableau. Although we had a well balanced group and luckily there were no obvious weaknesses, we all helped when an individual struggled. David even logged the days people helped him most and was able to say a person for each day! {fixed [Date], [Person] : Count(Days Helped)}… You’ll find that funny in a few months.

And so my first tip is to help each other when they struggle, and they will in turn help you when you inevitably struggle too!


Tip 2 – Record Some Data!

Following on from the fact David logged stuff, my second tip is to keep a data set! Logging something for the full 4 months is great fun believe it or not! Joe and I recorded Fifa matches (vizzes to come at some point). David logged multiple things which you can read about in his reflective blog here. I started recording something for the first 2 months or so and let it fall off which I really regret! So pick something, anything you like and keep to it! You’ll love the results and it’s a fun thing to bond with the rest of the group over at the end!


Tip 3 – Don’t be Afraid to Ask!

While a the Data School you’ll quickly come to learn that The Information Lab is a company like no other! I cannot personally speak highly enough of how good it is to work for them! The thing I like most is how freely structured it is, which is hard to describe and you won’t ‘Get it’ until you’re there but you feel valued, and looked after. Something I wrote in my first week was about how they help you do your job, and if you need help with it you can get it. What I hadn’t realised at that point was it’s the same for everything! If you want help, ask and someone will take time from their day and help. If you feel you’re falling behind, ask and someone will dedicate themselves a weekly spot to guide you where you think you’re going wrong. If you want feedback, just ask… Andy is more than happy to give direct feedback on anything you want but is also aware that some people may not wan direct feedback – so ask!


Tip 4 – Don’t Listen to Andy! (Sort of)

This comes with a very big caveat and that is that you most definitely should listen to Andy!! He’s a great teacher with good experience and wealth of knowledge! And his teaching technique is great – there is a good reason Tom has chosen him! My tip is referring to how you take things – and it’s the same for everything in DS. You and everyone around you are there because they’re doing something they love, to better themselves and their career and ultimately set themselves up for a great future in analytics – but it’s a very subjective thing! You get people online like Ken Flerlage, who are great with understanding the fundamental building blocks of Tableau and capable of manipulating it to do some really crazy stuff! Or someone like Andy who is also really good, but more towards understanding the practical business uses. It’s all a matter of perspective around what’s good and what’s not so listen, and take in what people say but don’t take it to heart and if you’re really passionate about why something you have done is great be sure to stick with it if you can back it up!


Tip 5 – Put Yourself Out There!

My last tip is something I really didn’t do enough! But there is a lot of value in it and I will be picking up on it over to get into the habit over the next 6 months. Starting with this… follow me on twitter @McVizzies  :).

Twitter is a great platform to put yourself out there and meet new people in the community, make sure to comment when you see things as everyone in the community will be pleased to have your feedback and it will mean you get more too! Win win. Also look to speak where you can – Steph did a great Tiny Tableau Talks early on and I think she would agree that it boosted her ability when it comes to presenting! It’s one of those things that only really ever gets better with practice, and taking yourself out of your comfort zone for something like TTT is a great way to do that!


One extra bonus tip is to get an honorary DSer from the Core Team (We had Emily Chen). She was there for us a lot and will forever be part of DS Heaven! Thanks Emily!


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