Choosing a Bootcamp in person or online is a tough decision, most people are looking for a career change that could boost their employment opportunities and salary.
At Dataconomy we spoke to Ariadna Cuffi, a student from the Allwomen data science course for a detailed review. Allwomen have courses in Barcelona or remote online.
We will cover:
- Ariadna’s background, reasons for changing careers to data science
- Why the allWomen course
- The course and how practical vs theory project work
- Mentors and Community in the course
- Where the course has taken Ariadna so far
- A discount to sign up for AllWomen data science courses
About Ariadna, background & reasons for changing careers to data science
My curiosity about the technology world started when I began my degree in Business & Technology at La Salle Barcelona, where I gained skills on economics and entrepreneurship but also understood the importance of technology and how to manage it.
After pursuing the degree, I had to decide where I wanted to start my professional career, and I didn’t know which sector I wanted to specialize in, but what I knew was that I wanted to be in a technology leader company. It’s when I started working on Alpha, a long term innovation facility and the first in Europe to work on moonshot projects.
At Alpha, I was part of the innovation team. Our goal was to generate and explore moonshot level ideas from technological, business and social lenses through rigorous research analysis, synthesis, prototyping and storytelling. My main focus was on strategy and business analysis for those.
Being there for two years, helped me learn a lot, but there was a point where I started thinking that I needed something else if I wanted to continue learning and developing professionally. And it was then when I realised that I could do the work that I love in a more efficient way by using the proper technology tools. Data Science was in my case, the perfect match.
Alpha gathers some of the world’s brightest minds to bring breakthrough technology, so I used that network and started asking advice to my colleagues. They started to involve me in the actual prototyping of the ideas, some of them would actually teach me some coding, and others gave me really good advice. It was when I talked to Cecilia Tham, the co-founder of allWomen and my colleague at Alpha, where I finally decided to go for it.
Prerequisites and Application Process
One of the things that I was really worried about was that they would ask me to have a technical background or knowledge. When I talked to Laura, CEO and co-founder, I really understood that it wasn’t about who I was, but who I wanted to be. She was more interested in my motivations and goals rather than where I came from.
I was also concerned about how I was going to apply those skills in a way it would match my business expertise. With Laura, we went through all the ways I could use Data Science in my day today, and how would that increase my opportunities.
After the first interview, they asked me to do a technical assessment. This can be challenging but it’s definitely worth it because then they make sure that even coming from different backgrounds we all have the basic understanding in order to be ready to start the course at a similar level.
I found that doing the test was great. They really wanted motivated, prepared students.
The technical assessment had different stages. First of all, they give you an exercise that you have to solve without any knowledge of Data Science.
Then you do some online courses around Python and Statistics.
Finally, they ask you to apply it on several exercises, so that you can see the actual difference when using these tools. Comparing the first exercise with those last ones, increased, even more, my motivation to start the course.
Pros and Cons of the Career Track
In my case, I chose the intensive course, which means 8 hours a day for three months.
Of course, this has it’s pros and cons. I would say that it is really good because you can manage to do it within a short period of time, and since this is the only thing that you do during that time, you can be fully focused on it. If you have any other projects, finish them up as there will be no time for them.
But you have to be aware that it is also very demanding, especially not having previous knowledge on that, it can be very intense.
Sometimes you don’t even realise how much you are learning
Sometimes you don’t even realise how much you are learning until you finish the course and you stop to think and you see how much you have achieved. But when you do, you feel realized.
Why did I choose allWomen over others?
As someone whose background was on business, the decision of shifting the career to Data Science was a big deal. Choosing which institution I was going to do that, was something I really needed to think through. I would say that there’s no one single reason that made me choose allWomen.
There were many things that made me fall in love with the school and the people.
The first thing that stood out for me was their mission of encouraging women to enter and thrive in the technology sector.
As a woman, I thought it would be a place where I could see the example of powerful women who succeeded, and indeed, they inspired me a lot. Not only that, but they also explained to me their own experiences and how they got there, making me feel that everything is possible if you fight for it.
I also loved the fact they trust in the efficiency of having very small groups. In my case, we were ten girls in my class, which made it very easy to connect with the teacher and students. The teacher gave us very personal treatment and taking into account that we all came from very different backgrounds, that was definitely a plus!
But what I valued the most, is the people who I connected with during the course.
Starting from the core team, who from the beginning made me feel at home. They were always there with the best attitude, asking if we needed something, and coming to our informal drinks after class. Later I met the teachers, who made learning Python and Machine learning, something fun and motivating. I was very lucky to have Idoia as a teacher, she really did a great job on not only teaching but also mentoring and support!
And of course, the students, who were my pillar all along the path. I can now say that I came out with the skills I wanted to get and with friends to share it with.
The Data Science course covers the following topics:
- Programming with Python
- Exploratory analysis: univariate & bivariate, Feature engineering, Hypothesis testing
- Machine Learning: regression methods, Optimisation algorithms, Regularisation, Data Mining, Model fine-tuning
- Machine Learning: classifiers
- Unsupervised learning: Use cases, Clustering & clustering optimisation
- Natural Language Processing, Traditional NLP vs Deep Learning NLP, Topic Modelling.
If you would like to apply for one of the courses, use this form to save up to 700 EUR (785 USD).
Projects and how practical was the course?
One of the things that made me choose allWomen, was their way of thinking about learning. They have a learn by doing approach. Their course it’s centred on projects instead of grades or exams.
This also helps employers want to see a portfolio of work. Coursework can show how you think about data science much better than an exam
We would have theory classes in the morning and practical exercises in the afternoon. Every two modules we would have to work on a project. We had a wide variety of projects from predicting sale prices to detecting fake tweets.
The best part was to present it to the rest of the class and learn from each other.
The organisation is small, flexible and adapts to your needs, the community is extremely friendly and supportive, surrounding you with positive energy and empowering you to achieve your goals.
They have a super-powerful network of people. From the people in the team, the teachers and the community that they have created.
I loved having a single teacher 100% dedicated, who cares about your personal evolution. She knew exactly the strengths and weaknesses of all of us, and she would act accordingly in order to help everyone.
Career Services and a Job Placement Guarantee
It’s not a job placement guarantee but they do organize a Hiring Fair at the end of the course where world leader companies come to meet the students.
Each company does a presentation of themselves and then some interviews are set up within the students. I’m actually in a hiring process with one of them.
Not only that, prior to the Hiring Event, AllWomen also organized a workshop specifically to train us how to deal with hiring processes, where we learned multiple useful things, such as how to prepare our interviews, CV, portfolio, and so on. We also had a one on one with a Data Recruiter expert who helped us on a more personal level.
Does the course have a strong community online?
Indeed, they do. Apart from the people I met from the core team, the teachers and the students. They also organized events every other Friday where they gather experts in the field. There I met very interesting people. Events that I can still go now that I am an alumnus and that any person who isn’t even a student can also attend.
Apart from those open events, they also organized weekly workshops for the students, where external professionals would come to teach us some specific tools, such as how to use Tableau, SQL, WebScrapping, and so one.
It was great to learn new skills but also to get to know powerful women that are currently working on the Data Science field and are rocking it.
Now, as a graduate, I see that this didn’t finish the day that the course ended. Instead, it was the beginning of a new network of powerful people.
I graduated three weeks ago, and since then, allWomen gave me the opportunity to talk about Covid19 and gender equality. The event was powered by them in collaboration with DataNatives, Europe’s largest event platform for the data-driven generation. Even with the course already finished, since the presentation required a project and it was for AllWomen, my teacher was always there if I had any doubt to support me on this.
As I mentioned before, they also helped me enter the professional world by organizing the Hiring day, where we had interviews with companies leaders in the sector.
Something that really surprised me and that I really value is that I still have contact with all of them. The admin teams asked us how we are doing, they keep sending us job offers that they see that could be of our interest. The teacher keeps sending us materials that could help us continue growing.
Did you need to use any external resources to learn?
Yes, and I believe this is very important if you really want to be successful. The Bootcamp is an amazing starting point, it would have been very hard to do this on my own. But this is only the beginning, then you have to keep training yourself in order to learn more and more. Not only after finishing the course, but also within.
As I said, my background was in Business so sometimes I needed some extra help in order to understand concepts. The teacher would tell us which tools could be useful for us depending on where we were stuck.
What did you like most and least about the course?
What I liked the most was their learning by doing approach, the people and being a small group.
What I liked the least was related to the COVID-19. Because of this, we had to finish our course online and that supposed a big change in our learning experience. But AllWomen did a great job of adapting to the situation.
Did you look on Course Report or switch up before signing up? Was that helpful?
Yes, I checked on Google, Switch Up and Course Report. It was super helpful because I saw that the reviews were not only positive but personal. As if the students were feeling part of the allWomen community.
Do you feel you go value for money? Would you recommend it to a friend?
I couldn’t be happier with my choice, and I definitely would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a new career challenge. I surely think that the money spent was worth the value it has brought me.
The skills learnt and the community which I believe can also be great if you were remote only. You get out what you put in really counts here.