My First Week – Impressions, Alteryx, Dad Jokes, and Wardrobe Malfunctions.

by Samuel Shurmer

First of all, I just wanted to apologise for my terrible blog writing skills, hopefully it will get better over time but writing out my thoughts is not my forte.

As a member of DS13, however, I thought it would be great to share a few thoughts on how I’m finding life at the data school so far, let you get to know me a bit better and hopefully in some later posts share some helpful nuggets of information to help you get the most out of both Tableau and Alteryx.

I grew up on the Isle of Wight, for those that don’t know this is the strange diamond shaped island off the bottom of the UK and is generally known for being 20 years behind the rest of the United Kingdom (we were recently used by BBC Newsnight as a showpiece for going into a time machine). After escaping this setting, I moved to one of the UK’s next most isolated areas and began my bachelors at Plymouth University studying Economics. Upon completion of this and unsure of what to do, I decided to hide away and undertake a MSc in Economics, focusing on Urban, Port & Transport. During this time, I was introduced to the wonders of Tableau by a friend, and we quickly became fast friends.

After this time, I found the Data School through some mutual friends and thought It was probably the place for me, and after my interview was delighted to be offered a place. I was offered a spot in DS13 having applied for an earlier window, but this wait made me only want it more.

So, what was I expecting from the data school on arrival:

  • An environment built to help us through the data school
  • Excellent teaching from experts in their fields
  • Fellow DS13 members to be nice, polite and friendly people

But to be honest what I found was so much more. The environment is built for continuous self-improvement, whether that is engaging in class, carrying out self-learning or just networking and learning from other members of both the Information Lab and the Data School, everyone is always happy to help. The teaching is fantastic, we’ve only had a small taster so far, but I still feel like I’ve learnt more in a week than I have elsewhere in a few months. Carl, Andy, & Ben’s passion for the subject is infectious, and there understanding and ability to bring the information to life is fantastic. Though it must be noted that their sense of humor is similar to my dad’s, or to be honest most people’s dads, which is something that never gets old.

As for my fellow DS13 members, they’re all great to coming from many different levels of experiences, ages, and backgrounds, making DS13 a fantastically interesting place to spend most of my days, and I can’t wait to continue to learn alongside them (if you haven’t checked out any of the other’s blogs, you really should). As for the rest of the Information Lab & Data School, they couldn’t have been friendlier, always available for a chat, as welcoming as possible and always ready to handover some knowledge they have had previously.

As for what we did this week:

Day 1 – This was just an introduction day, introducing the school and getting to know the systems work. This was an interesting morning for me however, upon arrival my trousers decided they no longer wanted to be in this world and split! As you can imagine, this was exactly how I wanted my first morning to go! Fortunately, everyone in the team was understanding, and it wasn’t an issue, though feel like I might never live it down…

Day 2 – Intro to ETL, this was a continuation of building on the principles of what we would learn and giving us a base to go on.

Day 3 – Alteryx essentials, today we were taught the basics of Alteryx but Alteryx Ace Ben Moss. By the end of the day all of DS13 was shocked, and in awe, of the power of Alteryx and the potential that it provided and couldn’t wait to get further stuck in.

Day 4 – Was an introduction to Tableau where we learnt the basic under pinning’s of Tableau, while most of us had a decent understanding of Tableau and its potential from our initial applications, we were introduced to a very detailed understandings of how the basics of Tableau worked, helping us to build our knowledge further and hopefully make the rest of our learning easier.

Day 5 – This was our first project day, upon arrival we were given the challenge to use what we had learnt this week to add to our initial applications, having not looked at mine for nearly 6 months, you could imagine the panic I was feeling. We were also required to use Alteryx and supplement the data, knowing that this data set had taken me and 3 friend 4 days to create, I knew this was going to be a challenge. Fortunately, however, I was just about to discover how good Alteryx was. I will write another blog about what learnt during this time somewhen next week. We also got to see DS12 present to on of our clients, which was a great opportunity to see how far they had come in 2 months, and give us something to aim for

Overall, I have loved my first week at the Data School, its been hard work but DS13 and the rest of the team have been fantastic, and I can’t wait to see what is instore! Hopefully I will get a few more blog posts up over the next week for you to enjoy.