Skills You Need to Prepare for a Data Science Bootcamp
Data science bootcamps present a particular type of learning experience. They're still relatively new, they require full-time focus, and they're...intense. This leaves many interested individuals to wonder:
- Am I qualified?
- If not, how do I get qualified?
- If yes, am I ready for this?
These concerns are not only understandable, they're necessary. When you're about to spend significant time, money, and brain power on an experience, it makes all the sense in the world to be as prepared possible in order to ensure it's a worthy investment.
So, how do you gauge your readiness? Since we launched our data science bootcamp in June 2014, we've taken rigorous notes, analyzed the data, and created a comprehensive list of what it takes to achieve data science bootcamp success. The list includes a mix of hard and soft skills based on the experiences of our graduates, senior data scientists, and admissions and careers teams.
This collaborative effort most recently led to the creation of Metis Admissions Prep (MAP) – a free resource with materials and exercises designed to help individuals learn or improve upon needed skills as they get ready to start their applications. What we've included in MAP gives pre-applicants the best chance of not only getting into the bootcamp, but excelling during the 12 weeks. Here's what you should know:
It's important to know how linear algebra is different from general algebra, and to get some practice using vectors and matrices.
Brush up or learn anew the functions of calculus, derivatives, and integrals. Plus, discover how to find local minimums and maximums.
Be sure to cover your probability fundamentals by learning about independent and conditional probability, including reviewing how to solve combination and permutation problems.
Focus on mean, median, and mode while studying correlations, as well as uniform and Gaussian distributions.
At Metis, we're big fans and users of Python, and most of the work in our bootcamp is completed in the language. In MAP, you'll find helpful resources to brush up on your Python skills.
...And What About Those Soft Skills?
The fact that hard skills are important can't be overstated, but a too-intense focus on them can lead to neglecting soft skills, which are just as important. These are the types of skills that keep your love of your career moving forward, that place you in a position to get the job you want, and that help you put your on-the-job skills to use right away.
Here's what to focus on before applying to the bootcamp:
Passion & Curiosity
If you're interested in a bootcamp, you need to be able to demonstrate a genuine interest in the larger, growing field as a whole. How? Attend data science Meetups in your city, go to talks led by industry leaders and practitioners, listen to podcasts, read articles and books, and so forth. Take it all in. The bootcamp experience comes with ups and downs, so it's important to be able to fall back on loving what you do.
Grit is defined as "courage and resolve." As just mentioned, this field is full of challenges and there will inevitably come times in the bootcamp when you feel overwhelmed. How will you respond? Will you work through those times? While progressing through the bootcamp application process, will you push yourself to finish the challenges on time? Will you work through difficult problems without giving up? Even if you fall short here or there (which will happen and that's ok!), grit demonstrates a drive to improve, which is vital for bootcamp success.
Of course it's important to be able to do the work. But when it comes to business, you also need to know how to communicate about it. As your career builds, you'll work with various teams, leaders, and individuals – many of whom won't be data-oriented. Practicing how to communicate with them about your work will pay dividends down the road. During the bootcamp application process, this skill is tested by encouraging applicants to communicate their stories, their technical know-how, and why they want to enroll.
Critical thinking requires taking information and objectively analyzing it before coming to any conclusions. It's about asking questions and getting to the bottom of things in a thorough, logical way. This type of thinking ties directly into the tenets of data science and will help in a bootcamp setting, not to mention on the job and beyond.
At Metis, we offer two part-time, live online courses designed to help individuals prepare for the data science bootcamp. Our Beginner Python and Math for Data Science course is for beginners who want to learn data science from scratch and have no prior experience with fundamental Python programming and math concepts. Our Introduction to Data Science course gives students a well-rounded intro to the core concepts and technologies taught within the bootcamp, including basic machine learning principles and hands-on coding experience.
If you're at the point in your data journey where you already feel prepared for the bootcamp, the Final Application Deadline for our Spring Bootcamps in Seattle, Chicago, San Francisco, and New York City is Monday, February 25th. Learn more and apply here.