My 7 biggest challenges in the Data School

by Rachel Costa

The most challenging things for a Brazilian journalist lost in the Data School

data school

Four days to the next year and here I am in front of a computer thinking about the things I have found most challenging in the Data School. As it is the perfect period of the year to create lists, I will try to sum up my main issues in (a kind) of list (after all, creativity is a rare resource in these last days of a year):

:: I am not a young lady anymore ::

Learning things on your thirties is definitely not the same than learning things on your twenties. Sometimes I feel as if I was in an endless battle against my memory issues. Recording and remembering things are not as easy as it was in the past. Just to give you a silly example, three months here and I am still not knowing all the different passwords and users for each one of The Information Lab accounts.

:: Sometimes it is f*%&ing difficult to think in complex things in another language ::

After two years living in UK I finally can say that I am able to keep a pub conversation without needing to think first in Portuguese and then secretly translating it into English. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same about those situations in which I need to think in something complex. Add it up to the fact that I am not a young lady anymore (= memory issues) and you can conclude that yeah, it is a big challenge!

:: My background issues ::

Ok, I am very proud of being a journalist, I love my profession and I have had very good moments working as a reporter. However, several years using only the basics of Math didn’t provide the best mindset to work with data. At least not when you need to create calculated fields or any other kind of calculation (did anyone say LODs?) in a daily basis.

:: Resisting to my tendency of beating myself up ::

It is an old habit I have that I am trying to control. All the times either the calculated field doesn’t work, or I miss the right words to describe what I’m trying to do or I forget the right tool to use in Alteryx (just to mention few situations), I take a deep breath and think “inhale – exhale – and – don’t – beat – yourself – up”.

:: Counting commas and full stops ::

Learning Alteryx and Tableau is also an opportunity to learn how to pay more attention to things. Particularly when the thing concerned is creating a formula (and a simple missing comma can ruin your entire work).

:: Building a relationship with Alteryx ::

Alteryx is a cool software until the moment in which all the things start to go bad. Particularly because when it happens there is not much published information to save us from the unknown.

:: Explaining what I do for work ::

“Rachel, is your new job in journalism?”
“Are you still working writing things?”
“Not really”
“Are you working with communication?”
“Well, in a sense…”
“What a hell are you doing?”
“Well, it is about data visualisation”