David Daza Student, BI SkillsCamp Cohort 1 (2020) Fellow, Data Science Bootcamp Cohort 4 (2020) Eskwelove since Data Science Bootcamp Demo Day Cohort 3 (2019)
Interviewed by Bela Lumba, Eskwelabs Communicate Associate
Expectations vs. Reality
What were your initial expectations from learning online?
Similar to my BI SkillsCamp experience, I expected I would learn a lot from the Eskwelabs instructors and my co-Fellows with the luxury of staying home. I knew I’d acquire the tools, skills, and knowledge that I’d need to help add value to my Data Scientist journey.
What was it like to have the Bootcamp experience shift online? What was it like meeting everyone virtually (Lectures, Socials, Mentors)?
I have already met some of the co-Fellows during BI SkillsCamp and Open House by Eskwelabs before the pandemic. It was different but everyone tried to make the best out of the situation, especially the things that we can’t control like COVID. From the Eskwelabs fam to the co-Fellows and the beadles, everyone did their part to create an environment that felt like close to school and the advantage of blended learning. [After COVID], I can’t wait to see everyone in person.
BI Skillscamp, February 7, 2020 with Lex Tanganco BI Instructor (left) and co-Fellow Carlo Sandiko, Cohort 4
Lectures were virtual so you can ask questions or share concerns. One good thing is that it’s recorded so you can go back while reviewing. Compared to online courses available on the internet where material is pre-recorded, you’d just chat in forums if you have inquiries. Here in Eskwelabs you can ask directly, and they tailor fit the [teaching style to the] performance of the Fellows if the lesson is going too fast or slow without sacrificing the quality of education.
Socials were creative and fun. We had activities like guessing games, online karaoke, bingo, game night, and etc. Kudos to the ones responsible and made it happen. [These activities] made the group closer and improved our experience staying home during the ECG/GCQ.
For the instructors and mentors, you only see them online, but you also see their sacrifice and that they are really trying to help you.
What were the challenges you faced during the online Bootcamp? How did you manage it?
I haven’t experienced any kind of bootcamp before. [Eskwelabs’ Data Science Fellowship] is really a bootcamp so it’s fast and the bulk knowledge that you need to acquire in the given time can be demanding. Luckily, I have more time compared to other Fellows who had work, but I believe it is doable with lots of sacrifices. Reflect, ask yourself if this method or technique is working, change strategies, and apply. Persevere with a growth mindset and pray. I am very thankful that the instructors, mentors, my teammates, and co-Fellows were very supportive.
Communication. It’s hard to gauge a person if you can’t see their body language and you haven’t met them. You don’t know their personalities but through time you get to know them better. Luckily, we had good ice breakers from the start, lots of online socials which helped a lot to fasten the process of getting to know them better. It’s a good experience working on hackathons together online, because times are changing and maybe in the near future your teammates are located in different parts of the world. It’s good training as well. One example is that you are presenting and you don’t know how the person on the other end is taking it. If you are being heard clearly, you’d want to know what their feedback is on your presentation. [Their feedback] would be a good indicator for you to know what to adjust. With lots of presentation exercises and hackathons [in Eskwelabs’ bootcamp], you start being comfortable presenting online. Technical issues from both ends—such as internet connection leading to choppy signals—may arise but they’re not [a big deal].
There are lots of distractions. You can easily open your other browsers while in class or be absent for one. But if you know why you are there and who you want to be, this will not be a major problem.
Times are different during COVID; fortunately, we had coaching, career development. and mentors.
You have been part of Eskwelabs in a series of different programs such as Aral-Aral, BI SkillsCamp, and now Data Science Bootcamp. What are the reasons behind this?
Alvin Toffler once said, “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn. ”
In my ongoing Data Science journey, I have tried a lot of things like online courses, reading books, watching YouTube, short courses, and others—you name it! I have tried them but I still felt they were missing something foundational. As I continued searching and tried adding value to myself, I luckily found Eskwelabs through my Google search. I attended one of the Demo Days (Cohort 3 Demo Day) last year. Ms. Angela [Chen] quoted a friend describing how Eskwelabs works and how they train their students to work together as a group—it’s not about being the best one in that group. Also during graduation, I saw the Fellows’ aura and I felt that I wanted to be part of this. I just loved the community that Eskwelabs created; it attracts passionate learners. They don’t discriminate if you are an undergraduate, fresh graduate, or career shifter. I believe in what they are trying to accomplish: to produce a well-rounded and equipped data scientist with the help of their philosophy of blended learning.
Cohort 3 Demo Day, November 28, 2019
I tried BI SkillsCamp and saw how Eskwelabs cares about students. They also take the feedback seriously and respond accordingly. In my experience, there are a lot out there trying to sell you their courses but not sincerely trying to help you. Eskwelabs also tries to jump-start your data science career with their career development classes.
Let's talk about your experience as a Beadle? How did you feel as the beadle of the week?
It was an awesome experience because I got the chance to get to know the Fellows better and the Eskwelab fam. I had the opportunity to contribute to a group and add some personal touch to the whole bootcamp, especially during socials.
What did you feel when your Fellows nominated you the "Future Mentor Award?"
To be honest, I didn’t expect that they would nominate me for the “Future Mentor Award” because there are plenty that also deserve this. It was heartwarming just to be nominated and considered.
Data Science Capstone
Let's talk about your groups' capstone project? What is it about?
Our capstone project is about determining whether a Twitter account is a troll or not.
What brought about the idea of your capstone project? Or what is the inspiration behind it?
From strangers to acquaintances, we became teammates and friends. Even with changes in the group, we still stuck to each other—we are that close. We were brainstorming about the capstone and found that we all wanted to promote awareness that trolls exist and that they are indeed trying to convey a particular message. We noticed that trolls, through their tweets, have also emphasized division and differing views within societies. We also suggest that once trolls have been identified, these trolls should be reported—especially if they spread fake news.
Was it difficult to find inspiration given that the whole Bootcamp was done online?
If it’s really important, you still have to do it even if it’s hard—no matter what the situation. I have to give credit to everyone especially Eskwelabs because for me they did a good job of things that they can control. Sometimes we can’t control things like COVID.
What would be your main take away from this whole experience?
I am grateful for the opportunity. I learned new things, reinforced the things that I already knew, unlearned things that I was doing wrong, and learned from other people. I strengthened my foundation and confidence in terms of technical skills, tools, and knowledge as well as a whole package of soft skills like presenting, working as a group, career development, and more for my Data Science journey. Lastly, there’s the gift of friendship. Thank you.
What advice would you give to future Fellows?
It’s really a bootcamp so adjust quickly. You got in so you guys are capable, try to make a system and enjoy. Make mistakes, experiment, learn from them. Practice, practice, evaluate and apply, apply, and apply. Move forward, move backward, sideward, focus on who you want to be. Always try to push yourself but not up to your breaking point. Ask questions, involve your instructors, mentors, and co-Fellows. In learning new stuff, the probability of the struggle is high. But first remember your why and persevere at it, then you will see things getting better. “We are all beginners at some point and begin again.” Celebrate the small victories. Cheers!
Want to grow and learn with a data driven community? Sign up for Cohort 5 here: https://bit.ly/DSCohort5