In the business world, everyone is paid in two coins: cash and experience. These are the words of Harold Geneen, one of America’s top business executives in the mid-20th century. Geneen believed that experience is a form of wealth.
What makes experience truly an asset is if it leads to insights that help a person grow or develop.
Experience, combined with the written word, is an even more powerful treasure. Thanks to letters on screen or ink on paper, successful individuals are able to let us experience in the comfort of our armchair the things that they themselves had to go through. These successful men and women can also share the great lessons they gleaned from their experiences through the power of letters.
In this blog post, an Eskwelabs Data Science Fellowship alumnus shares some important gems that you may use as a source of inspiration so you can grow in your studies, careers or in whatever station in life you are currently in.
Now, we will let Mikee Sevilla do all the talking for the rest of this blog post. Though his bachelor’s degree is in psychology, his career path has covered diverse fields like marketing, education, and public sector statistics. We hope you will benefit from his story on how he transitioned from hacking the human mind to dealing with data science.
How I Got Started in Data Science
My undergrad was actually in psychology! I thought I wanted to be a doctor. I did learn a lot in terms of understanding why people behave the way they do, which also helps when I work with data about people.
However, one of our required classes in undergrad was psychological measurement, or psychometrics. In this class, psychology suddenly became very quantitative. For example, we learned to study people’s personality through the use of surveys and data. Psychology became very real to me. It became my favorite class in the whole program. It was around this time when I knew I was interested in working with data and gaining insights from its analysis (whether or not it was related to psychology).
My interest in psychometrics led me to take up a statistics degree, which brought me closer to the realm of data and data science.
How I “Met” Eskwelabs
I first found out about Eskwelabs from a fellow statistics student, Kayecee, who was part of Cohort 3 of Eskwelabs’ Data Science Fellowship. At that time, I was already interested in joining, but I simply could not make the 6 PM class schedule. Eskwelabs is in Makati and I was working in Quezon City. Thankfully, Eskwelabs started to offer its bootcamps fully online, which was really something that worked out well for me since I’m based far from Makati.
The entrance assessment for the Data Science Fellowship was challenging, but doable. I actually started with Eskwelabs’ Aral-Aral prep course, the tone of which I liked. The modules of the course always sounded very encouraging and the pacing was just right.
As I went on with the modules, I eventually purchased the Aral-Aral Plus prep course because I wanted to learn more. I also thought it was a good deal since I would get discount credits towards the Fellowship.
However, even with Aral-Aral alone, it really prepared me, especially when it came to Python (a programming language). I was not familiar with Python before Eskwelabs. The overview in the free prep course really helped me during the assessment.
My Eskwelabs Learning Experience
I encountered some difficulty in the early days of my Data Science Fellowship, as I was not an expert on Python. At first, I would be shy when asking my mentor or my group mates for help, especially when it comes to resolving programming errors. But my mentor and groupmates always made me feel welcome and encouraged me to just ask for help whenever I needed it. They helped me become comfortable and eventually build my own confidence in Python and data science workflows.
What I find most memorable about Eskwelabs is how it was such a safe space to learn and experiment. From Day 1, it was always emphasized that we were learning as a group, and that the community was there to help everyone. The mentors, instructors, and my cohort mates were always very supportive. As a result, I didn’t feel too afraid of getting something wrong or not getting something right immediately.
Aside from all these, the data science program also has carefully-curated lectures, exercises, and projects.
The fun parts of learning at Eskwelabs include the project sprints and working together with my group mates and mentors. The socials (even if they were online) were always great too.
What I Think of My Investment in an Eskwelabs EducationI would consider my investment super worth it. This is because I was able to transition to a data scientist role a few months after the bootcamp. Also, I was able to immediately apply my learnings in data visualization and storytelling in my job back then.
But perhaps beyond the technical skills, an overlooked benefit/learning I acquired is how I got integrated into a development-minded data community. Outside of the bootcamp proper, I got acquainted with people in the Philippine data community. I also gained a deeper understanding of the data science field. I learned about the different tracks an aspiring data professional can take, such as being a data scientist, data analyst, or data engineer. The best part is that I’m able to keep in touch with my cohort mates and the Eskwelabs community even after the bootcamp.
Before the Fellowship, I was happy to explore the different methods being offered to finance applicants’ enrollment in the bootcamp. I considered the Study Now, Pay Later feature with Bukas because it allows for lower cash out and it spreads out the payments in more digestible chunks. Though I was fortunate enough to have raised funds for the Fellowship, I really appreciated that there were available options for financing.
How Eskwelabs Helped Me Shift to a Different Career
I worked for about 4 years at the Commission on Higher Education (CHED). The last 1 yr and 11 months of my stint at that government agency was spent in a statistics role. While I was studying as an Eskwelabs Data Science Fellow, I was able to immediately apply the concepts I learned from the bootcamp in our data projects at CHED. In particular, I was able to implement my learnings in improving databases and data presentation.
At the end of the bootcamp, however, the Eskwelabs team asked for our resumes so they can be compiled into a resume book, which Eskwelabs sends to its company partners. I sent my resume without really expecting anything. However, after some time, a representative from Mynt (GCash’s parent company) reached out to me. After a few exchanges, I was invited to try out for a data scientist role. I was really surprised and happy about how I was able to use workflows from the Eskwelabs bootcamp in the company assessments I undertook.
Eventually, I was able to get a job offer from Mynt. I accepted the offer because the role was in line with my preference of using data for good - in this case, pushing for financial inclusion. Similarly, I was happy in my data role with CHED because I was able to use data for Philippine higher education.
What’s Next for Me
Since I am just starting out in my new role, I would like to further refine my knowledge and skill set in handling big data and big data tools. I’m excited to see how data can be used to help accelerate financial inclusion. Hopefully, I can find more opportunities to contribute impactful work in society through the use of data.
My Advice for People Who Are Afraid of Math and Tech SubjectsMath can be really intimidating! But I think Eskwelabs has a really good structure for tackling technical topics through the mentor and group learning system. After concepts were discussed in class, we were always given time to go into breakout rooms with our mentors and groupmates and digest what was just discussed. In the breakout rooms, we were usually able to clarify things that we did not understand during the discussion. Also, I was able to ask any question that I wasn’t able (or I was too shy) to ask during the class.
Also, it is important to be patient with yourself. It's easy to compare oneself to more experienced people in the field (and get super down doing so). However, don't forget that we all have our own pace and time.
- If you want to follow Mikee’s path and acquire data science skills for a better future, click here to learn more about or apply for our Data Science Fellowship.