Born and raised in Thailand, Alisa came to Germany for her Masters degree and has lived here ever since. She talks about her career transition from sales support to Data Science and how her bootcamp experience at Spiced helped her develop her data skills.
Hey Alisa, thanks for taking the time to talk to us! Could you tell us a little bit about your educational and professional background?
Sure, I studied German as a foreign language in Thailand, and then I came to Germany 13 years ago for my master studies, which was in economics and political science.
After that I have been working. I always had contact with data but I just work with Excel and everything. In 2018 I decided to change my career and go into data analytics. Before I joined Spiced Academy, I was working as a data scientist for two years.
At that time, I learned to use Python to do the data analytics. But I would like to improve my knowledge about machine learning, deep learning and the software engineering part. So, I decided to join Spiced. 😊
Ok nice! So could you take me back to the day or the moment when you thought to yourself “I want to study Data Science”?
I was working as a sales support with an airline from Thailand. We have a European sales office in Frankfurt. I always liked to work with Excel, looking for the data. It was a small team and there was always a discussion about which kind of price structure should we operate for the European market.
This discussion went on and on and there was no answer. So I was trying to get the descriptive analysis from Microsoft Excel and trying to get the facts from data and put it into the discussion. And it turned out that the data helped a lot. A year after the decision was made the sales increased by 30%! So, I was like, “oh, the data can increase the sales!” Actually, it’s just like, put the data into the decision, and that’s why I begin to learn about data science.
Beforehand, I didn’t know the word data science at all, but then I’m like, “okay, I’ll look it up, it’s cool!” Then I started to try to learn Python and also get into statistics.
And when did you find out about bootcamps in general or in this method of intensive learning?
In 2018 I was looking up bootcamps. I think the Spiced one was one of the most famous bootcamps in Berlin, but at that time I decided to do a short-term bootcamp in Seattle, in the U.S. Fortunately I got a job offer, so I didn’t apply for Spiced, but then after two years of working as a data scientist, I saw that there was much more room for improvement. You know data science is very broad. So, at this time I looked at Spiced and I found out about Stuttgart and I found out that due to COVID I can do it online. So, then I decided join Spiced’s Stuttgart cohort.
Great! And what was it about Spiced that appealed to you?
I think the way you have this interview for the recruiting, it’s kind of coaching people to learn something, together. I think it’s very important because in this intensity of 12 weeks you need to spend a lot of time with the people. Spiced take this process seriously. So, I’m glad Spiced did that!
That’s good, I’m glad to hear 😊 Now you’ve graduated you’re applying for jobs; what kind of jobs are you applying for and how are you finding them?
Yeah, now actually I applied for a data scientist role in consulting, for example, and also for a business intelligence developer, that will be a bit more into the data engineering. Spiced gives me enough background for both the data science and also the data engineering part. So, I have a broader chance to get a job.
Good, good, I hope you smash all those interviews you have! What would you say was the most challenging aspects of the course?
I think that we always have a goal at the end of the week. It’s very challenging because, at the beginning of the week, you may think that “wow, how can I do everything by Friday?” Mostly, you don’t have much experience, or you don’t have any experience about that topic. No experience at all! On Monday, you maybe cannot imagine that on Friday, you will be able to do it, but somehow you are able to do it on Friday, so it’s amazing. Mostly I got it done by Friday, but if not, I sometimes worked on the weekends too!
I really enjoy that we have a goal, and we learn how to tackle the goal, but still we have the flexibility to be able to maybe select our own dataset or select our mentor and how we tackle the goal. Yeah, I think it’s very nice.
On this subject, what would you say is your favourite aspect of the course, what did you enjoy the most?
It would be the natural language processing. We covered the basics and I liked it and I did my capstone project on natural language processing. I liked it because Spiced gives me enough background, enough basics for almost all the topics that we have in data science so I am ready to dig deep in any of the topics I would like to do.
Do you have any insights or any advice that you would give to someone that’s about to do the course? What methods did you use to adapt to it?
Yeah, I would say believe in yourself. If you would like to learn just the fact that you would like to learn will take you to the goal. And be patient because sometimes it could look very difficult but believe in yourself and trust the instructors, they have experience. They can evaluate how you work, if it’s good or not good or where you can improve yourself, trust the instructors. And if you have a question, go to the instructor, ask them the question. Don’t be afraid to ask a question.
Just be yourself. It’s enough to have the motivation to learn, that’s something not everybody has. It’s special enough to have this motivation, this belief in yourself, and you can get it. It’s a matter of your priorities. If you give it the first priority you will be able to do it.
Exactly! On this subject of instructors, could you tell me a little bit about your instructors, how you enjoyed working with them?
Yeah, I like the way that Spiced has the main instructor for the cohort. They had Paula at that time. And even though maybe the topic has not been covered by Paula, you develop the connection with your main instructor and when you have a question, you tend to go to Paula. She’s a great teacher.
She developed this kind of connection with us, she knows how we tick, how we ask a question, how we learn as a team and a cohort. I was actually afraid firstly that we will not see each other because everything will go online, but everything runs smooth! We somehow have the connection together and we also developed this trust with Paula and also other instructors. But I like it that we have the key person we can go to any time you would like to.
It’s like a personal connection, it’s not just like someone we see. I mean, I did a lot of online courses and the problem with the other online courses, for example, with Udacity or something like that, it’s like, you look at the video, you do not have the connection with the instructor. But with Spiced you have the connection to the instructor. You can also ask something which is maybe not covered in the session, but it’s connected to that topic, and they can tell you where to look for more information.
You mentioned that you and your cohort were able to develop a good relationship, a lot of trust. This is one of the most difficult things at the moment with coronavirus because everyone’s separated. So how did you go about doing that?
We have this Slack group where we can always write to each other. Also, in Zoom we have the possibility to have this breakout room. When some of us have problems, we can be like “ok, I have this problem yesterday too, maybe we can go into a breakout room and tackle it.” So, we help each other even though we only see each other in Zoom. So somehow, we have this connection!
Actually, for the Stuttgart cohort, I went to Stuttgart for the last day, for the ceremony. That day I presented my last project and then after we met together and then at least we saw each other! Actually, the group has met on the weekend, but I am not able to join, because I live in Frankfurt, but they did meet on the weekend.
That’s good you’re staying in contact! So I just have one more question; Spiced in 3 words?
I would say smile, community and fun 😊
It sounds like you had a great time!
I did have a good time! It’s like I told Paula, I really enjoyed the three months of the course because it’s one of the best times in my life, you know. If you start to work it’s kind of like a privilege that you can take time for three months to do something you really want to do. And Spiced did very good to prepare this time for me.
Well, I’m pleased to hear you had such a good time 😊 Thanks for talking to us Alisa!
Looking boost your career with Data Science? We’ve got cohorts coming up in Berlin & Online on the 14th March. Classes available onsite and remote. Spots are filling up – apply here!