Data Science Bootcamp Review – Data Science Europe

Thank you Sebastià Agramunt for taking the time to do a review of your experience at Data Science Europe

Q : Can you tell us a bit about your background before the bootcamp?
A : I did my PhD in Theoretical Physics at Autonomous University of Barcelona in the superconductivity group. My thesis topic was simulating soft ferromagnets interacting with other magnetic materials such as antiferromagnets or superconductors. I enjoyed this research because I developed all the code by myself allowing me to understand the physics of these magnetic systems and make predictions using simulations. Later on, I worked as a postdoc at the Catalan institute for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology simulating magnetic nanowires.

Q : How did you find out about the bootcamp?
A : I found Data Science Europe via google. I knew there were some bootcamps in the US and I was looking for a similar course in Europe. I found the DSE webpage and decided to give it a try.

Q : What was the application process like?
A : I had a Skype call with Giulio, the main instructor and he asked me questions about my PhD. What was the most difficult problem I had to solve in my PhD, what skills I acquired during my research period and so on. I was asked why would I like to become a Data Scientist and my answer was very honest: I love programming, math and computer science, something I realized when I was in academia.

Q : Was there any pre-course work you had to complete before the bootcamp?
A : No

Q : Why did you choose to attend a bootcamp ?
A : I felt I could learn data science by myself using MOOCS but joining a bootcamp would accelerate my learning. I also thought I needed to have real experiences from somebody that had been in the business for several years. This way I would be able to distinguish between good or better jobs, also to decide among different industries. An important point is to face a real interview, I thought this course helped me perform better in interviews.

Q : Why did you chose to attend this bootcamp (over others, if applicable) ?
A : I felt the teachers really cared about the students. I also liked that they were working in silicon valley startups and were focused on tech rather than other industries.

Q : Did the whole setup feel organized ?
A : I attended the first batch, and I think the course was very well organized. We had a clear schedule and different lectures were ordered (first learn “a” and then “b”). We learned about databases, R, models in data science and finally preparation for interviews. Every student chooses a topic (or proposes a new one) for their capstone project and develops their idea with the help of the mentors.

Q : In your opinion what were the most interesting part of the curriculum?
A : Learn what can you do with data science, where can you apply it and why.

Q : Do you feel you were able to learn things you couldn’t have learnt on your own ?
A : Absolutely. I learned about real data science problems faced by real industries, that’s something you can’t learn in books. Also, someone may argue that you learn how to interview by doing a lot of interviews and that’s half true. My experience is that most of the advice I got during the course on how to approach interviews were really valuable and helped me to get a job.

Q : Are there any changes you’d like to see made to the curriculum?
A : Perhaps going a bit deeper on mathematical models (I love maths). But there’s no time to do this with the course length.

Q : Did the program have a capstone project ?
A : Yes, everyone chooses a topic, get the data and perform their studies. It’s nice because all of the students help each other and we learn all together.

Q : Are you currently employed as a Data Scientist ?
A : Yes,  as an Algorithms and Machine Learning expert 

Q : Did you find employment within three months of finishing the bootcamp program ?
A : Yes

Q : Did the bootcamp assist in setting up interviews or making introductions to companies after the program?
A : Yes, I never lost contact with the instructors and course fellows. After the course, I was preparing for interviews at home and the instructors helped me to spot good companies.

Q : Did you feel the bootcamp helped you prepare for the interview process?
A : Yes, without the bootcamp it would have taken me more interviews to get the desired job. Their advice was invaluable.

Q : Does the bootcamp have an active alum network ? (please elaborate)
A : Yes, that’s one of the best parts of the course. We try to help each other and share information and presentations. Since we are so close it is easy to know more about the companies your colleagues are working on and even change job.

Q : Do you feel alums are actively involved in the program through mentoring, giving presentations or in other capacities?
A : Alumni usually go to the course for a couple of days and present about the companies they are working for or a case study they’ve developed. Former students also share their experiences with people that want to join the program through email or Skype calls.

Q : What do you think was unique about the program ?
A : There are two things I consider unique in this course. First, the wide knowledge of the instructors about data science and their closeness to the students. They do really care about you being happy in a job, after all, you will perform better in a company that way. And second the alumni network. This is not one of these courses you do and never know anything about the instructors/alumni again. We keep in touch from time to time and share our knowledge.

Q : What are the weakest aspects of the program ?
A : In my opinion, the time for capstone project is too short. However, after the course I still got feedback from the instructors when working at home.

I come from a theoretical physics background and I expected pure math explanations for the models (I mean, math formalism), but I realized that these explanations would take a lot of time and that’s not practical for the course.

Q : Can you comment on the overall strength of your cohort class ?
A : As far as I know, we were chosen among 40 candidates (first batch). Students were very good and with different backgrounds, sports science, economics, physics (PhDs), and math. Some of them with industry experience.

Q : Were you satisfied with the overall quality of the instructors ?
A : I was really satisfied.

Q : Any regrets ?
A : Not really

Q : On a scale of 0 -10, would you recommend this bootcamp program ?
A : 9

Q : Why or Why not ?
A : I would totally recommend the course. Teachers are experts in this field with several years of hands on experience. Alumni network is great and actually you never finish the course, we always share interesting information and learn from each other.  

If you have attended and graduated from a Data Science Bootcamp and you’d like to do a review of your experience, we’d love to hear from you. Please fill this form and we’ll reach out to you to conduct the interview.

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