Module 4: How to Get the Most Out of the Course
Your attitude plays a key role in your success in this course. As you embark on the journey ahead, it's essential for you to align your attitude and expectations with reality. Below are our tips for ensuring your success in this program and making this learning experience a rewarding one.
This boot camp will be a challenging experience. For many of you, the skills taught in this program are vastly different from what you've been exposed to before, and you may feel discouraged if concepts and skills don't click right away. Have confidence that you will improve, and approach each class as an opportunity to learn something new. Six months from now, you'll marvel at how far you've come.
Take Charge of Your Learning
You will get out of this program what you put into it. That is, in order to succeed, you must take ownership of your learning experience.
Like any craft, data analysis requires diligence, practice and experimentation, and a desire to improve. From Day 1 through Day 180 and beyond, continually remind yourself that you are responsible for your success. We will be here to guide, encourage, facilitate, and provide feedback, but it's up to you to put in the effort.
Put in the Time
As newcomers to the field of data analysis, be ready to put in your share of hours in order to master your craft. We've found that the most successful students put in about 20 hours of outside classroom time per week. More challenging topics may require additional hours of study and practice.
Look at this time as an investment in yourself, and know that for every hour you spend, you are securing yourself a better opportunity after graduation.
You won't become a data expert overnight. This is especially important to remember during the first few weeks of class, when you are more likely to feel frustrated. You may not grasp certain concepts immediately, and that's okay. Be patient with the process and with yourself. A topic that confuses you in Week 1 will be second nature by Week 24. Learning a new skill takes time, but rest assured that you will learn.
In addition, be patient when it comes to troubleshooting issues you experience along the way. One of the biggest sources of frustration to new students of data analysis is the amount of time it can take to debug an issue. Take whatever comfort you can in the fact that this is completely normal and even valuable. The time you spend troubleshooting is a critical part of the learning process. Each bug you investigate is a lesson that adds to your arsenal of knowledge.
Get Your Hands Dirty
This boot camp requires your active participation. You need to attend class, complete the assignments, and watch tutorials. You also need to spend a considerable amount of time outside of class honing your skills. To succeed in this boot camp, you'll need to do more than read, watch, and follow along. Step away from the sidelines and enter the fray. Work through the problems that stump you and learn from your mistakes. This is the only way to improve and ultimately master these skills.
Try Things on Your Own
"Am I doing this right?" is a question that instructors prefer not to hear—not because they are unwilling or unable to help, but because it suggests a lack of confidence on the part of the student. Learn to wipe this question from your mind. Attempt to solve problems on your own, and request assistance from your instructor if you get stuck. Phrase your question like this: "I tried [method A]. It didn't work so I tried [method B], which also didn't work. What should I try now?" Notice the change in tone. Instead of timidly asking for assurance, give yourself permission to try—even if it means failing at first.
In this boot camp you will be asked to collaborate with your classmates to work through assignments and solve problems. Very often, a fresh perspective and another pair of eyes can help you overcome a bug or understand a challenging concept. So, form study groups and work with your peers, and learn from each other in the process.
Master the Art of Google-Fu
You may be surprised by the amount of googling you are asked to do in this program. This is done to help you learn the art of Google-fu, the ability to quickly find and apply information on the internet.
Data analysis doesn't rely on memorization but rather the process of curating bits and pieces of knowledge that have accumulated in various documentation, forums, and websites. It also requires an ability to quickly research solutions to problems you are working on. The field is constantly changing, and new tools are always on the horizon. As you will soon find, Google is an invaluable resource.
Make a Plan
The key to approaching complex issues in data analysis is to formulate a plan. Break down the problem in front of you into discrete, bite-sized tasks. Once you have a plan, write it down and refer back to it often. Don't try to bite off everything at once!
Self-Care Is Key
The best learning occurs when you take care of your physical and mental needs. This means getting enough sleep and exercise, as well as following a nutritious diet. It also means taking breaks and finding moments to relax. Energized, enthusiastic students make for a more productive, positive class experience.
Be an Engaged Student
In order to succeed in this program, you need to be invested in the learning process. Collaborate with your classmates and join study groups. Continue to build your skills outside class through online research. Do your own work and submit assignments you are proud of, and if you ever feel you are borrowing too much, reach out to your Student Success Manager for guidance.
You Can Do This!
This last piece of advice is the most important. Remind yourself each day that you can do this. We've seen students from all backgrounds, experiences, and personal situations persevere and succeed in this program.
There will be challenges ahead. During those times, remind yourself of why you entered the program in the first place. Let this be the fuel to keep you going.
You have everything it takes to learn this craft and to gain the opportunities that come with it. Your future self will thank you.