Valuable Lessons after Week 1 in Data Science Immersive Boot Camp at General Assembly.
Its 5 A.M on Monday week 2, and I’m finally ready to submit my lab work assignments on time! Our Lead Instructor’s warnings on the intensity of the program sinks in, and my family and friends worry about my lack of sleep. I knew going into the course that no amount of preparation would be enough for someone that is quickly learning the prerequisites of Data Science along with the hours of lectures and range of related topics we would cover, all in the hopes of preparing my cohort and I into being Data Science ready candidates. All this, yet I feel excited and in my element!
What its really like?
I learned how to solve the rubix’s cube several years back with the help of my younger brother. Having the unordered outer blocks in different sections around the cube made it difficult to make sense of, and it ultimately leads many to frustration to the point of giving up. It only starts to make sense when you put some order into the chaos of blocks, and learn how certain rotations, or sequence of moves bring back clarity. It is very much like an order of operation Math problem, where as soon as you learn the order the solution becomes clear regardless of the starting point. I don’t solve it as quickly as others, but the point I’m making is that the order of moves, or my program for the puzzle, works! It takes away the difficulty of the problem and turns it into a simple toy that amuses your friends every now and then.
In similar fashion, I feel like I’ve been given many building blocks, or tools, for Data Science, and now its my job to start making functionality and meaning from it. For someone relatively new to coding and distribution calculations, my mind is working in overdrive, but I am eager to intricately put together all of the pieces one day.
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I could have started with the scope of what we covered here, but I don’t think it encapsulates the General Assembly experience I am getting without what I explained above. A simple Google search in the field would easily show many of the topics we have covered, such as the foundations of Python, functions, datatype, list comprehensions, control flow, nesting and more. Even version control and the scientific libraries used in the field like Pandas, Numpy, and Matplotlib. Lets not forget about the Math and coding out probability and distributions in function calls, all in the span of five days!
Some in my group seem to be well versed in many of these topics, but I was not. We even had taken a quiz on what we learned on Friday and were given two assignments which the instructors expect us to work on four hours a night. I personally struggled and it must have taken me over 24 hrs of work to complete my lab assignments. Tough, but I still met my deadline, and the feeling you get when you code eventually runs is pleasantly difficult to describe. I’m learning!
The way my instructors cover the material is exceptional. They set the expectation that the first two weeks may seem too slow as they cover foundational Math and programming skills. They also clearly point out that the first two weeks would be too fast for others (me). The program is aimed at raising the foundational skills of our cohort which we will need in the first two weeks in order to establish a strong baseline to finish the program ready for the markets. They didn’t lie!
Most valuable lesson this week:
Get help, and be helpful! I initially believed that there would be some time throughout the day to review the material we cover, but the quantity of material left little time to digest it all due to my limited exposure to these foundational skills. Having time to solidify what I’m learning proved challenging this week, and I started asking for help.
I can’t speak for other cohorts, but based on the extensive searches online before entering the program, I came to the conclusion that the single most important advantage to Data Science boot camp vs self study is the connections you are able to make. For me, this was my saving grace as my cohort established a study group in helping each other talk through our coding challenges. Many different people spent hours with me, and we helped guide each other in completing our assignments. For anyone reading who has drive, you can make it happen if you have the right support systems in place. I was even fortunate in being helpful to others who struggled like I have.
These types of friendships are amazing, and you never know if there is something better for you in the future. Take care of your community as we are not competing against eachother! Thanks again to my reading audience. I may write another article in two weeks.
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