student story

Charles Qin

Data Analyst @ IGM
Data Science Bootcamp, 2020
Diploma Program

Data Science Bootcamp

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About Myself

I went abroad from China to Canada for my studies in 2013 and later graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Brock University. After that, I worked for a marketing company for 3 years where I relied more on my soft skills (e.g. Client management, event coordination, etc). I thought this type of job was limiting since you don’t develop many technical skills in this position. I also worked in other small companies at the time and kept those positions more for immigration purposes rather than career development.

During that time, many people around me – friends and classmates – went back to their home country due to the difficulties in finding a proper job.

I wanted to develop my technical skills and luckily in my last position, there was some data analysis involved where we needed to deliver reports for our clients. Although data was only a small part of my role, I was particularly interested in this part.

How I Heard About WeCloudData

I always thought that I needed to learn more technical skills in order to further advance my career. I actually had heard about WeCloudData quite often as I have many friends who had graduated from there and they shared a lot of details and insights about the Data Science Diploma Program with me.

At that time, I had a full-time job and I needed to stay at work for my PR application so I couldn’t just drop my job. After I finished the PR application, I started looking into re-education options right away. I was debating between web development and data science. From my point of view, web development has been popular for many years and the job market is more likely to be saturated. This is part of the reason why I chose data science.

Why I Chose WeCloudData’s Data Science Program

Before enrolling at WeCloudData, I was hesitating between other companies’ programs as they all seemed similar. However, from my friends I spoke with who went to WeCloudData, I learned that they all got very decent jobs after graduation. WeCloudData’s programs are also more specialized/catered for the data industry. They also provided all kinds of supports from education, to real client projects, to job searching and interviews.

I also evaluated more beyond the program itself. For example, I had other considerations for what would happen after graduation and support for job searching.

My Bootcamp Experience

Something I felt that was really great about this program was how well-designed the curriculum was and the materials provided. Its structure leads students from easy to hard and basic to complex or advanced topics which made the learning journey super friendly for a newbie like me. Moreover, once in a while we will have exercises/assignments and group projects; the assessments would match up with what we were learning at that time and so it helped me practice my skills and build up confidence as they simulated real work data problems.

Before enrolling in this program, I would never believe that such sophisticated dashboards and machine learning models were built by me 3 months later. The program greatly built up my confidence for career switching.

As for the instructors and TAs, they were able to respond to questions from students well – not only did they tell us how to solve it, but they also taught us the reason/logic behind it and that’s what I liked.

The TAs also have a strong capability in troubleshooting and were very good at coding. They supported me a lot in the projects and assignments. I found that whenever I asked Parry (TA) questions, he will always ask some questions back which can navigate me to the solution. I feel like in that way, I was able to better understand and remember the logic. It also developed my critical thinking skills.

Overall, with this program, I felt more driven with learning and with my work. For example, I knew exactly what I needed to do every morning. When I woke up, I was either going to be focused on the lecture for the day or my objective would be doing assignments, projects, etc.

This is why I think the program is well-designed, it keeps you busy but not frustrated.

My Experience with Online Learning

Learning online definitely helps me save more time. I know that the previous students like my friends had to go to the campus in downtown Toronto and that would be very time-consuming for me (having to commute). Also because this is a very intense course, being online instead for virtual meetings and classes allowed me to better manage my time. If I missed anything in class and I could review the recordings at a later time too.

However, there are some drawbacks. For example, I feel like there’s less connection between me and my other classmates and so it’s difficult to get some networking. Since we also do coding during lectures, sometimes troubleshooting may take a lot of time and effort, so it might take more class time to resolve one person’s problem.

This is from my experience but in terms of the interaction, I do feel like WeCloudData is trying a lot of different alternatives to make online classes better, like trying to engage students to talk and collaborate together. For example, during the lectures the instructor will create breakout rooms with 2-3 students each and ask the groups to discuss the topic taught for the day. Then the instructor/TAs will join the rooms and discuss with the students together/listen to our ideas. I think that encouraged more people to be engaged and it’s improving the situation.

Tips for Current Students and How to Be Successful in Online Classes

I would say be more engaged in class, with your classmates, and with the instructors. Sometimes you might learn about something that you didn’t even know existed! Great ideas always come from discussions.

It’s really important for students to build connections with their classmates because they will also be your first group of friends when you step into the data industry. Together, you will be pursuing shared goals, exchanging information, and you will be supporting each other for a long time, especially after the program.

The Real Client Projects & Interview Tips

The client projects definitely strengthened my technical skills for solving more intense real world data cases. In terms of the soft skills, it helped me improve my teamwork and leadership skills. Note: During the projects you will need to communicate with your clients and teammates. I think being able to work on these skills during the projects helped me build a solid resume.

But I have a hint for whoever is reading this – you probably won’t get many people being picky with your work and challenge your authority or professionalism. So for interviews, you’ll want to be well-prepared for questions regarding your projects because I had failed one of my interviews for being unable to answer detailed questions for a project.

Finding a Job During the Pandemic

In terms of finding a job during the pandemic, I don’t think it added any negative impact for me. For example, there are actually many industries that are rapidly growing now such as healthcare technology, software and service industries, retail, etc.

There will be many opportunities on the job market. Nowadays, because the whole interview process is done online, it also saves a lot of your time and effort. Once I had multiple interviews in the day – that probably would not have been possible before the pandemic (although I would not suggest doing this!). I also found that I get less nervous facing a camera compared to having to face four interviewers in a meeting room.

My Interview Process

I landed a job six months after graduation. I know that many people got a job faster than me, but it all varies. Sometimes it takes three months for a person and sometimes it takes over a year. This is all very normal. I think what helped me with my job searching was my resume. I spent almost all of my efforts on resume building before I started doing any job searching.

Overall, I was able to get about six interviews from doing hundreds of applications. The interviews were from leading companies in the industry so I’d say the resume is definitely like a passport for you.

Some people also have different versions of a resume for their applications. However, what I like to do is put many keywords from the job posting into my resume and elaborate on those in the working experience section. So when the interviewer is looking at my resume, they can quickly tell what my skills are and what I have experience with.

As for the interview process for data science positions, it will generally start with an HR interview and then a technical interview or the company might have a person from their team interview with you. After, there’s an interview with the manager/director.

My suggestion would be to read the job description very carefully before the interview because you might miss/forget a lot of information. During the interview, it’s very likely that they will ask questions related to that so you’ve got to be prepared for it.

Sometimes there are some nuances you can pick out from the job posting too. For example, if you see something like “this is a new role in the department”, it is very likely that you will be the only data person on the team and that you’ll be the one in charge of everything/won’t get much support or collaboration from the team. This means in the interview, you should be prepared to talk about the changes you can make to the team and how confident you are with your work (potentially being the only data specialist on the team).

The Impact of My Data Science Diploma from WeCloudData on Potential Employers

As mentioned earlier, I didn’t really have any data science background prior to the program (coming from a Business Administration background). Without the diploma, it might seem weird or that I’m suddenly trying to jump into data jobs which might add suspicion to my motivation and abilities. The diploma plays a transitional role and shows that I put in the effort + gained experience to work in the data industry.

Even after the diploma, I would still recommend for students to go and get a higher level of degree, for example, a Master’s or even a Ph.D. I think that might help a lot in terms of future career development.

For myself, I plan to do a Master’s after working for a few years, now that I’ve completed the bootcamp.

My Advice for Current/Future Students Planning to Pursue a Career in Data Science

Be patient but confident about yourself and your abilities during the job search. As I said, some people might need many months before they find a job; One of my friends got a job after over a year.

Trust yourself that you are ready for the job you are interviewing for, your resume stood out and got selected for a reason. However, I do feel like there may be personal preferences involved when candidates are being selected. That’s why you need to have some patience to get the right job.

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