Today we honor our Data Dreamers and Data Challengers by sharing their stories alongside the Eskwelabs programs they are closest to.
The Data Dreamers’ life chapters are driven by the story of the learning product that was born during one of the most chaotic times in Philippine history—the March 2020 lockdowns.
The evolution of this learning product and its continuation to “present day-Eskwelabs” can truly be credited to the passionate learners who were generous with their praise and feedback. In line with our 3rd year anniversary theme: "R3ADY, S3T, GROW: Thriving in the New Normal,” here’s their story…and ours.
In February 2020, whispers of the COVID-19 virus began to circulate in our small and humble office at the AIM Dado Banatao Incubator in Makati, Philippines. Since we started in 2019, we implemented the blended learning approach, meaning classes were done partly online and partly face-to-face. It never occurred to us that a pandemic of such scale could happen and would literally change everything about our operations.
In March 2020, we braced ourselves for a month of research, planning, and preparation to be able to put together “Analytics Skillscourse,” which was a basic data analytics program for freelancers and digital workers impacted by the pandemic. We experimented with a “pay-what-you-can” tuition plan, given that times were extremely tough financially for many people. Our 12-day program between March to April served as a light for our 47 students. Daisy V., a learner from that cohort, shared how she would look forward to the daily live online sessions in Zoom. After the program, she said she didn’t know what to do afterwards. The separation anxiety was real—in a good way!
Daisy’s sentiments were common for that first batch of learners. It was feedback like that that compelled us to keep iterating and dreaming. We launched other versions of Analytics Skillscourse (ASC) towards the latter half of 2020. Majority of our learners there were from FHMoms, a community of more than 400,000 home-based moms who work or aspire to work as digital workers, whether as virtual assistants, freelancers, or yes, data analysts.
“I feel awesome that I have learned a lot from my Data Barkada journey and I am excited to bring those learnings to life! I have been more confident to apply for new freelancing positions and hopefully get more clients prior to the end of the 1st quarter of 2021.” —Debbie Riza C., Analytics SkillsCourse: Data-driven Entrepreneurship Cohort 2
MK Bertulfo, FHMoms CEO and founder, was one of our scholars for our business intelligence program back in February 2020, and her belief in Eskwelabs has led to such partnerships like this. (In the next few sections, we’ll talk about what this partnership looks like today!)
“There are tons of online courses nowadays, especially during the lockdown, but most of them seemed like clickbait and are usually composed of annoying Facebook ads, pre-recorded videos, and low quality ebooks. … But as I went through the topics and the curated content, I was so happy! I learned a lot and I felt my "entrepreneurial spirit" come to life! I now have a deeper appreciation of how data can guide us in making decisions, especially in business. I know that someday I will be able to use the skills and knowledge that I gained from [the course]!” —Ida T., Analytics SkillsCourse: Data-driven Entrepreneurship Cohort 2
We even had a unique collaboration with Project Inclusion Network (PIN) for ASC in January and May 2021. It was a privilege to be trusted by the scholars of PIN. We equipped them with basic data comunication, data management, and professionalism skills. This was the first time Eskwelabs taught cohorts where at least 70% of the learners were Deaf. The other students were learners living with psychosocial, neurodevelopmental, and physical disabilities. We had 32 PIN scholars graduate from Analytics Skillscourse in 2021. This was an unforgettable and meaningful experience for our team.
“I am the type who does things brick and mortar, and doesn't even know the basics of Google Sheets and Excel. I could say that I am not really a data-driven person, and our [Eskwelabs] mentors helped me a lot by being patient with me as I also had a hard time learning and pacing myself. But they were more than helpful, especially Ms. Francine for guiding me and not making me feel that I am left behind. I used this [course] as a way to upgrade in terms of role. I am now part of the Development Academy of the Philippines' PROJECT SPARTA. I would like to give back by helping advocate the “Data Science and Analytics Para sa Bayan” and it makes me happy and fulfilled having the opportunity to learn and also to pay it forward.” —Emiko G., Analytics SkillsCourse x Project Inclusion Network Cohort 2
Today, Analytics SkillsCourse or ASC lives on by another name: Data Literacy Skillscourse. And we believe that this is its most exciting version to date. The story of Data Literacy Skillscourse or DLS began in the first half of 2021, during the in-between period of two Analytics Skillscourse cohorts with Project Inclusion Network—the one during January and the other in May.
Through one of the projects of the Australian government, we saw the opportunity for this data upskilling initiative to reach more people, particularly those from ASC’s biggest audience: home-based moms who are determined to stay competitive and not get left behind in the future of work. FHMoms enters the picture here once again as our co-design partners.
We applied for the grant in the summer of 2021 and received the good news a few months later that the Australian government would be providing catalytic funding and partnership for this data upskilling initiative to launch to 10,000 learners from the FHMoms community.
It has only been a year, but the Data Literacy Skillscourse (DLS) team has made great progress. What exactly did they set out to build? DLS is a free data literacy course that learners would complete alongside other learners. True to Eskwelabs’ DNA, the course was community-driven, engaging and of high quality, and learner-focused.
The learners of the course are grouped into small learning groups of four, ensuring that learning is personal, intentional, and social. And aside from being set into small groups, learners also have access to the wider cohort of learners. Some of the favorite features of DLS today are its event nights, which have become ritualized by their entire batch of learners. Each session would be as lively and joyful as the community makes it to be.
The Data Literacy Skillscourse team in Eskwelabs is a tight-knit group dedicated to developing the community experience, learning experience, and stakeholder experience.
DLS as a product is unique because it is designed by Eskwelabs with and for FHMoms. Cheers to our FHMoms partners and counterparts who make building this product a true joy.
We are also honored to have worked with the brilliant educators and designers at Habi, which is an education design lab that aims to improve how people learn. Through our engagement with Habi in the first half of 2022, the DLS squad came up with their core design principles, did prototype testing with the product ambassadors, and gathered a ton of feedback that they needed for product development.
It was great working with you, Habi!
Here are 6 of the most prominent features on the web-based app that learners looked forward to when they went through the Data Literacy Skillscourse from January to July 2022:
Now at the end of 2022, with over 800 DLS alumni, here are the most loved features of the program since we’ve switched from the web-based app onto a project-based x cohort-based learning approach (August 2022-present day).
We also opened the opportunity to our DLS learners and product ambassadors to attend an #IAMRemarkable workshop with Google last June 2022. This workshop aims to empower women and other underrepresented groups by teaching them how to celebrate their own successes and cheer for the wins of others. Two of our Eskwelabs teammates were participants in this training and this will pave the way for us to host our own #IAMRemarkable workshops for learners in the future.
A big thank you to Miami Cabansay for conducting the workshop last June 17, 2022! You made our learners and team feel truly special.
Developing one's confidence is a core theme in DLS, and we hope to bridge our learners to more experiences such as this Google workshop in the years to come.
We started the story of the Data Dreamers in our Anniversary Progress Report by talking about the ancestor product that led to the creation of the Data Literacy Skillscourse. But if you read between the lines, this story goes much deeper than a product’s origin story. We were actually able to share the story of how our mission—to make future-relevant skills education accessible for all people—continues to drive us to iterate, expand, and seek opportunities that will make this a reality.
Like true dreamers, we made the most out of what the March 2020 lockdowns gave us: a clean slate, an opportunity to experiment with a 100% fully remote setup, and a fiery determination to ensure that no one gets left behind in the future of work.
Eskwelabs hopes to equip more Data Dreamers—from home-based moms who want to provide for their families or to the ones who want to level up in any way they can with data skills. May Eskwelabs’ past, present, and future Data Dreamers serve as inspiration for others to see the importance of data literacy.
Interview any one of our learners about their reasons for studying data analytics, data science, or data engineering, and you’d be met with a different answer every time. Sit down for a chat with them (virtually, we mean, via Google Meets or Zoom) and you’ll not only be blown away by their wit and intelligence, but also by the depth of their heart.
We’ve welcomed learners who pursued data analytics to challenge themselves to achieve their career goals. Many of these lifelong learners proudly come from non-STEM backgrounds; several are career shifters.
We’ve also embraced those whose hearts beat to break down the barriers that they themselves have had to overcome in the past. There are learners who face challenges head on, whether in their personal, professional, or social lives.
And there are those who want to leave a legacy of using data for good.
“I’d say the biggest motivator for me to learn data science was me being impact-driven. As a web developer/designer/manager, there were definitely some opportunities for me to create impact in different communities, but I think the intersection of my passions and data offers more chances for me to actually help communities.” —Basty V., Data Science Fellowship Cohort 8
Our bootcamps are known to be intensive and accelerated learning experiences. The Data Analytics Bootcamp (DAB) is a 9-week program for anyone who wants to learn all about data analytics and kickstart their career in it. (Or if they want to use data analytics to shift careers or level up in their existing one, those are possible scenarios, too!)
And then we have the Data Science Fellowship (DSF), which is a 15-week program for aspiring data scientists and advocates of the Data for Good movement.
Lastly, our latest trial, the mini Data Engineering Bootcamp (DE), is still in its early stages.
Today, as of writing, Eskwelabs has 8 cohorts for DAB, 10 cohorts for DSF, and 1 for DE. All in all, that’s more than 350+ alumni from these programs.
"Eskwelabs fosters a community for future data scientists with a beginner friendly approach. I definitely learned a lot and I am extremely proud of the projects and friends I've made so far." —Joshua B., Data Science Fellowship Cohort 7
"Being part of this bootcamp is the best investment I've ever made. I not only gained more than what I spent for my tuition fee—with the skills and learnings—but also made priceless connections and friends." —Heide B,, Data Science Fellowship Cohort 7
Community plays a central role in Eskwelabs’ learning experiences. It can be tough to acquire a new skill, so one way to lessen the intimidation is by being in solidarity with others.
Our Fellows and Analysts are placed into small groups (just like in DLS!) that go through what we call, “data sprints.” Depending on the Eskwelabs product, we say “sprint,” “data sprint,” or “learning sprint.” These are 2-week timeframes wherein our students acquire relevant data skills to complete a specific data project. These sprints conclude with exciting presentations.
Each group is assigned a mentor, and we are very proud of our 1:5 mentor to student ratio.
“I am a huge advocate for project-based learning because I think it's really the best way to learn something new, and maybe that’s why I got hooked with the structure of the bootcamp.” —Basty V., Data Science Fellowship Cohort 8
Albert “Bash” Yumol, Eskwelabs’ former Data Science Program Lead, was the one who introduced the data sprint into our course format. Bash’s introduction of project-based learning in Eskwelabs was a game changer not just for the Fellows and Analysts, but also for the mentors and instructors we onboard.
Mentorship is a big deal in our programs. We’ve nurtured a pool of mentors, composed of non-alumni professionals from the industry and alumni Fellows and Analysts, who have launched their careers in the industry, but also want to pay it forward.
“Eskwelabs has also made me realize that mentoring is really something I want to keep on doing as a data scientist because it aligns very well with my advocacy that education should be given when asked.” —Basty V., Data Science Fellowship Cohort 8
The way to touch the heart of a student is by being intentional. We seek mentors who can provide both academic support and emotional aid. The fast-paced nature of the bootcamp—4 data sprints plus a Capstone Project for DSF, and the 2 data sprints plus the Company Business Review for DAB—is not a light load to bear.
But our mentors make it bearable. In fact, they make it enjoyable too—and the same goes for Eskwelabs instructors.
We’re glad to say that the relationship goes both ways. For our mentors and instructors, It’s important that we also encourage them to grow their careers inside Eskwelabs to become project managers for the Industry Apprenticeship Programs and later on, become Instructors for individual data sprints.
One of the newest initiatives we launched for our bootcamps since our previous Anniversary Progress Report is the Industry Apprenticeship. This is a paid, project-based opportunity for bootcamp students to get involved in the growing local innovation ecosystem. We have been partnering with a variety of start-ups under the AIM Dado Banatao Incubator. Cheers to our partners, such as Payruler, SeeYouDoc, Husay, Pieza PH, Pasajob, Burket.ph, and more! This section may be small but our gratitude is ever expanding. This is a thank you note for each of you!
Our Fellows and Analysts get to acquire the technical skills of data scientists and data analysts in our programs, but their professional growth goes beyond that.
With the data sprints making up the bootcamps, the big projects expected at the end of the experience, the caliber of the instructors, the empathy of the mentors, and the various fireside chats and socials in the program calendar, it’s safe to say that our learners get to develop their soft skills more than they expected.
“Eskwelabs is a safe space for learning. Even though I have no prior experience in data analytics, they offered me a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that has a huge impact on my career...” —Lance A., Data Analytics Bootcamp Cohort 2
“After graduating from the bootcamp, there were definitely a lot of changes that happened in my work ethic. From team management, communication, prioritization, and critical thinking, my work improved tremendously. I keep asking questions now in whatever I do and encounter.”—Basty V., Data Science Fellowship Cohort 8
“Upskilling” is an interesting term. Prior to 1973, it’s been an alien word. It became more popular in the past 5 years according to Google Ngram Viewer, which is an online search engine that visualizes how frequent a term is searched or used.
This term is near and dear to our heart, ever since we began. It’s at the core of our mission of making skills education accessible to all, so that people can thrive in the future of work with meaningful jobs.
How did we transform our thoughts into something tangible? When Eskwelabs was founded in 2019, we started with our flagship product: the Data Science Fellowship. Then came the Business Intelligence SkillsCamp, which is known as the Data Analytics Bootcamp today.
We’ve managed to produce hundreds of graduates and transitioned from blended learning to live online learning despite the COVID-19 pandemic hitting the Philippines. The March 2020 lockdowns may have disoriented us a bit—like all other businesses, we needed to regroup—but we went all in on making the most of our Zoom classrooms.
A big shout out to the Eskwelabs teammates who have pursued the path of creativity and resourcefulness to make our learning experiences of both local and international quality.
Something we want to celebrate since our last Anniversary Progress Report is the addition of new international Eskwelabs learners via our data visualization and data storytelling workshops for the Bank of Singapore. We trained a total of 140 students across 7 of those workshops.
“The most meaningful evidence I have that I was able to succeed in this new normal is the amount of impact that I have had. Up to now, I’ve written numerous articles that are being read by aspiring data scientists, I’ve mentored 10+ people who are new in data science, and built a community for students that are interested in data science. And just thinking about what I was able to do in this new normal is just fulfilling because it's always what I gear my work towards.” —Basty V., Data Science Fellowship Cohort 8
"In Eskwelabs, I am now part of a community of lifelong learners who are excited to study and use data analytics together. From what we learn and practice, I've been more able to help in analyzing the state of our nation and governance according to available data—and in creating recommendations toward a better Philippines. After all, we Filipinos deserve better." —Riz C., Data Analytics Bootcamp Cohort 3, and now Eskwelabs Junior LX Designer
Eskwelabs hopes to equip more Data Challengers—from professionals who want to shift careers and teams who want to level up, to the fresh grads who want to explore beyond their undergraduate degrees.
May Eskwelabs’ past, present, and future Data Challengers use their data skills to achieve their life goals. May these goals also be used to serve their communities and the country for good.