student story

Xiaodong Li

Data Analyst (Insurance)
Data Science Bootcamp, 2020
Diploma Program

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How did you hear about WeCloudData?

I heard about WeCloudData from one of your previous students, he’s a friend of a friend. He told me he was able to find a job through WeCloudData and had learned a lot of things while he was a student here. 

What was your career background prior to enrolling in our Data Science program? What are you currently working as?

During my undergrad, I majored in Public Health and continued my studies in Medical Biotechnology for my master’s. As for my work, I was a Sales Assistant (administration). 

After graduation, it took me about three months to find a job. I am currently working as a Data Analyst at an insurance company and have worked in this position for almost three months. 

What made you want to pursue a career in Data Science?

For a year and a half, I studied biotechnology in Canada. After I graduated, it was difficult for me to find a medical-related job as many medical positions will require research experience and I did not have a strong background. This is why I began working as a sales assistant. However, I don’t see this position as a long-term career for myself as there isn’t much growth.

Since technology is used a lot nowadays, learning IT skills would be useful and would help increase your chances in the job market. Since Data Science is a growing field, I decided to learn more about it. 

What did you find most enjoyable or interesting about our Data Science program while you were a student?

I liked the TA sessions; I didn’t have any experience with programming before so I always spent a lot of time at TA sessions. The TA’s were very helpful and they always understood what I was trying to ask. They are also very timely. 

As for the lectures, we had a lot of exercises. Whenever we finished a section, we’d have exercises and a test, which helped me remember the concepts better and allowed me to practice more. I found that while I was searching for a job, this helped me recall what I learned better. 

How did the instructors and teaching assistants (TA’s) support you during the program?

The way they taught was easy to follow. In other classes, I sometimes found it difficult to understand what the teachers were saying in class. But at WeCloudData, the instructors would show the workflow or use visualizations to help me understand the material better. 

They were also easily accessible. Whenever I had questions, they replied in a timely manner. 

Based on your previous education experience, how did online classes compare to learning in-person?

Personally, I prefer learning in person as I find it easier to concentrate in class. On the other hand, I can review recordings for online classes, meaning I can go over things multiple times and make sure I fully understand the material. So for WeCloudData courses, I liked having it online. 

Do you have any tips for current students on how to be successful in online classes?

If there was something I didn’t understand/had questions about during class, I would make a note of it and then ask the TA/instructor about it after. I also made review notes with points I thought were important – then two or three weeks later I would review the notes and check if I had any new questions. 

Did you feel like the real-client projects helped you when it came to finding a job? If so, how?

The real-client projects were really helpful for me during my interviews as I would have many things to share with the interviewer. They would also ask me many questions about the projects, such as my role and what exactly I did. 

I do think that it helped me stand out as a candidate since I didn’t have any background in data science before. 

Finding a job during the pandemic has been a challenge for most people. What aspects of your resume and portfolio do you think helped you secure a job so quickly?

Aside from the real-client projects, I also prepared a lot for my interviews. Here are some of my tips:

  • Keep your resume updated – whenever I worked on a client project, I would regularly update my resume with what I did.
  • Always spend a lot of time preparing for your interview. For example, before the interview, I would browse the internet for behavioural questions and outline responses. If I moved on to the technical interview, I will search for common questions asked and book a mock interview with WeCloudData/WeCareer. I found it very helpful as they gave me ideas on where I needed to improve + provided resources. 
  • Don’t give up and keep applying for jobs! During my job search, I sent out almost 200 applications.

From your experience, could you share what the data science interview process was like?

Usually, the first step is a phone interview with HR where they will ask behavioural questions. After there will be another interview – in my case, the interviewers would ask me technical or case study questions. If I passed this round, the next step would be doing coding on-site (or online through screen sharing).

Do you think the diploma from WeCloudData had any significant impact on potential employers?

Yes, during my interviews, the interviewers would often note that I made a sudden career change and ask why I decided to go into data science. If I only had my medical-related degrees on my resume, they might not have even considered me for the position. The diploma shows how passionate I am about data science and my determination for a career switch. 

Do you have any words of advice for current or future students planning on pursuing a career in data science?

I think as a student, being hardworking is very important. 

I wanted to share that while I was studying data science, there were many times that I wanted to stop due to the stress. Others may feel like this too. However, when you complete your studies, you will definitely be able to find a job – I’m sure you’ll feel very happy after and be able to lead a different life from before (as a bonus, the salary is great too!). 

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