student story

Yi Zheng

Data Engineer @ Nielson (Precima)
Data Science Bootcamp, 2020
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Hi Yi, could you tell me about yourself and your background?

In 2020, I took the Data Science (DS) diploma program at WeCloudData and am currently working as a Data Engineer (DE).  I’m also a new immigrant – I immigrated from China. Before moving to Canada, I worked as a systems consultant, product manager, and IT support. This was mostly about operational consulting and support – I didn’t have any direct experience with coding. 

I also have a Master’s degree in industry logistics (mathematics) where I needed to learn many algorithms. My past experience also helped me get exposure to systems. 

Did you find that your past education was any help in your data science learning journey?

I would say that it helped as it introduced me to working with data, but it wasn’t a direct help. For other people when they see coding or systems, they might feel intimidated by it. 

Could you tell me what was your motivation behind joining the data science program?

It was mostly to land a job. I moved to Canada for two years but within that time it was difficult for me to land a job because my technical background wasn’t sufficient enough. For new immigrants to find a job, the best way is to develop a technical background which I didn’t have. 

I either could learn some software development directly, or choose a promising industry like data. That’s why I joined WeCloudData’s data science program.

By any chance did you consider other programs at the time? What made you decide to choose WeCloudData?

Yes, I worked as a product manager previously but didn’t have a certificate for it. If I tried to find a job related to that in Canada, it would be very difficult. I would’ve taken the product management course at Brainstation. When I was looking into the course, I noticed that they had a new program called data science (which started in 2018). My wife suggested that I broaden my search for data jobs, not just focus on Brainstation. 

When I searched the internet, I found WeCloudData and that it specialized in data science. I also watched the 2 hr long video by Shaohua and felt that he’s a person who’s very honest and knowledgeable about this field, and so I chose WeCloudData. 

So you talked a bit about your experiences before joining the program, could you share your overall experience with the program? (e.g. Would you recommend it to other people? Could you share why you recommend it?)

Yes, I don’t have any background in coding. SQL I had very limited knowledge. I would strongly recommend this program to other people. Some of my friends are job switchers who are trying to change their jobs. You know, this is a totally new industry (for data scientists/engineers) – in the future, say 20 years, you wouldn’t need to worry about this field phasing out. It’s a relatively brand new industry compared to the IT industry. You can definitely find a job even in IT (not specifically locked into DS).

Also, this program is about data science but it gives you the foundational knowledge for Python and SQL which I found critical not just in the data industry but also in the IT industry. Let’s say my current job – I’ve been in this company for 2 months – and all I use is SQL. 

Did you feel that the DS program had given you enough knowledge? (Note: Yi was in the DS program but landed a DE job)

I don’t think it gave me the full knowledge about DS since that’s impossible but it gave me what I needed to land a job. Although I’m not in DS now, I talked with my classmates and about their interviews, they told me the knowledge they took from the course was enough to land a job. 

Could you tell me about your job search experience and any challenges you might have faced?

While searching for DS jobs, I worked as a broker. First of all, my resume wasn’t very optimal for DS. My background is also mostly in the IT industry. But for DS they look for people from a variety of industry backgrounds, e.g. accounting, supply chain, etc. They’re expecting a person who knows DS but also has industrial knowledge. I think I didn’t really focus on this when applying for DS jobs as I had started off with applying for DE jobs.

Regarding my DE job search, I was rejected many times. I didn’t get any feedback from the companies. Then I modified my resume, revised it, and got more feedback from companies. I still got rejected from interviews. I think this is because I graduated from a DS program but I was looking for a DE job. It didn’t match.

Also, different companies expect different knowledge sets. For example, some companies require big data knowledge and some ask for SQL; they all have different requirements. As someone who didn’t take any formal DE course, it was really hard to prepare. That’s why it took me a longer time than expected to land a job. 

How long did it take for you to find a job?

From September 2020 to July 2021. But in the meantime, I did waste some time… there was a company who asked me to do some very specific training. That took 3 months. Then that company wouldn’t sign a contract with me so I resigned from that company. 

Do you remember how many jobs you applied for?

Around 150-200, I think. 

Do you remember how many interviews you got? And were these for DE?

I got many interviews with HR. Maybe from 20-30 interviews. The technical interviews range from 10-20. The last round of interviews I had was around 5. 

Would you say the project experience helped you?

Yes, the last project I worked on is related to the job I landed. I took part in three projects at BeamData. My last project was about supply chains. My current company was looking for people with experience in supply chains, so they had asked me about my project experience. So it was directly related. 

Do you have any suggestions for anyone who might be interested in the same program?

My suggestion is to be clear about your expectations. When my classmates and I were searching for jobs, many of us focused on both DS and DE (prepared two separate resumes). But when I was searching for jobs, I realized this was impossible because you can’t prepare the knowledge for both areas. You should decide if you want to focus on DS or DE. 

Another suggestion – WCD now has a DE program, would recommend you to consider that program as well, think about which you want to take, and fully immerse yourself into what you want.

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