I recently started a data science online bootcamp program with the Flatiron School. It could not have come at a better time considering the recent quarantine and “shelter in place” orders. Especially since no restaurants were open to the public, and bartending and serving were my main source of income.
I wasn’t quite sure if I was going to have enough confidence or motivation to be able to successfully complete something of this magnitude! Since December, my life did a complete 180 degree turn, and I’m still stuck here picking up the pieces.
My fiance, Landon, and I moved to Fort Myers, Florida from Detroit, Michigan at the end of October in 2019. He generally had employment that involved being outdoors and right at the beginning of outdoor season in Michigan, he accidentally sliced through the tendon in his hand cutting an onion while helping me make a salad. He ended up having to to have hand surgery…therefore, no working for awhile!! We decided to move to Florida when his hand healed due to the year round outdoor working climate, to try something new, to save for our future, and to do all those things you do when you start moving forward as an adult. Shortly thereafter, in December, Landon passed away suddenly and tragically.
I am not writing this to gain sympathy, just to explain and clarify the state at which I was in starting this data science bootcamp. I can now say that starting this bootcamp was timed perfectly for a restless mind!
It starts with a bang! There is no easing in, just in case anyone was wondering! There is not an orientation week used for “ice cream socials” or for peer — team building trust circles. It is full on, here is where you sink or swim! They from the start make sure that you know what you are getting into and give you the opportunity to decide if you have what it takes. Self-accountability, self-motivation, self-scheduling, self-prioritizing…and all of those traits of a successful online learner.
Like I said, the bootcamp doesn’t hide these things, however, they support you even harder and more transparently! I’ve already learned so much and am incredibly excited for what lies ahead in the next four months…
So, let’s talk about the first project. Module 1, a lot of information and new concepts to absorb! For this project, we were put in groups to work on the project, instead of doing it individually, and some basic data sets to use. The data sets including data from IMDB, TheMovieDB, Rotten Tomatoes and a few others. These held data on genres, popularity ratings, titles, writers, directors, production budgets, world-wide and domestic gross and release date information. I’m sure I’m missing some categories! Point being… a lot of data that you could take on a various different “analysis rabbit holes!”
The goal was this…Microsoft wants to get in on the movie making business, they see a lot of future financial potential in creating a Microsoft Movie Studio. Our task was to dive into this data and help them decide how to enter into this illustrious industry. The decision on what data to use was ours and ours alone. Let the creative juices flow!!!
We, my group and I, organically jumped into our own topics to analyze. There were three of us, so we landed on three questions with a few sub-questions. One group member decided to look into the financials, analyzing production budget and gross profit and the return of investment on the top grossing movie genres. My other group member wanted to look into crew sizes of high grossing movie genres and see if there was a ratio of writers to directors on those films. I chose to explore the movie genres in terms of popularity and the then in terms of popularity of the top performing movie genres. (Side note…my group and I had worked together on a small case study the prior week and worked very well together!)
I learned a lot during the week of the Module 1 group project! A few key notable things were that Imposter Syndrome is REAL! It is very easy to think that you are lacking behind your peers. But, surpringsly, you probably really aren’t. They are, most likely, feeling EXACTLY the same way you are! This is one of those times you start to learn that you are truly all in this together. It helps you feel part of a community of learning that, crazily enough, is stronger than any other educational journey I have been on, even being a fully online program.
Another important thing I learned, was to show up to everything! My instructor told us that the first week, and I learned this lesson the hard way the first day of our group project. A group member and I spent the better part of an eight hour day banging our heads against the wall trying to figure out how to properly sort one of our data set columns and could have avoided this if we had just attended office hours with our instructor that day. This problem of ours was addressed in the first five minutes of office hours! Even though we eventually did figure it out, we could have saved all that time for something else. I will never take office hours or any study sessions for granted. Someone most definitely has a question that you would find beneficial! But, that’s the learning process, right? A ton of trial and error, and a whole lot of google!
There are a few more things that I see myself needing to work on to succeed in this program. I think that’s half the battle though, being able to admit the areas you need practice in, or need to work on. I know that I am a procrastinator when it comes to writing, and yes…I procrastinated on writing this! I find that when I start to get overwhelmed, the procrastination gets worse. I also have learned that it is very important to ask questions and ask for help when you need it. It is incredibly important in an online learning environment to be involved and use all of the community resources available! I look forward to taking all of my own advice, working on the topics I feel uncomfortable with and growing in the areas I lack confidence…