Meet Catarina 👋. After doing her PhD and Postdoc in Cognitive Neuroscience, she wanted to go deeper into Data Science and sharpen her knowledge of cutting edge industry tools. Like 1000+ Spicedlings, she discovered Spiced Academy’s intensive bootcamp and decided to take the leap.
Hey! First up, can tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?
Hi! I’m Catrina Amado, I’m Portuguese and my background is in Biomedical Engineering. I did my master’s and bachelor’s in this field in Portugal.
Later I did a PhD and Postdoc in Cognitive Neuroscience in Germany. Before Spiced, I did have some programming background knowledge, but it was very specific. The course was very important to clarify and further deepen my knowledge in terms of data science and cutting edge industry tools.
You’re living in Tübingen, how is the area for Data Scientists – are there many opportunities?
I think there are many opportunities! Especially if you have knowledge in specialised areas.
It’s really a boom everywhere. Depending on what kind of Data Science you want to use, you can go for pharmaceutical companies, startups, specialised companies, or well established companies – they all invest a lot in Data Science careers and positions at the moment.
Could you take me back to the day you decided to take a Data Science course?
I decided to really take a course because I really lacked the cutting edge industry tools that were being used. I knew math lab, but math lab is really used during research, not so much in industry.
I didn’t know Python, machine learning beyond some of the concepts and theory in a very basic way. I never worked with them, so I really needed a course to boost my knowledge.
So I decided to take a course, and actually started a self-paced course online, but I found it very difficult to keep up the pace and motivation. Since it’s not personalised, you can get distracted very easily, you don’t get your questions clarified, and then you’re just doing it without really understanding it that well.
Then I found out about Spiced and I thought it looked great. It looked like it would fill in the gaps in knowledge that I was missing. I liked that the course builds up from more basic knowledge to complex forms like deep learning – it’s a whole journey! And it was really a plus for me that it’s not self-paced – you get direct interaction with students and teachers and you can really have your questions clarified.
On top of everything else, the course is very complete in terms of what the market is looking for right now, so I really wanted to go for it.
And you landed a job in the middle of the course, right?
Yes! But it’s not actually in Data Science – or the title is not strictly “Data Scientist”.
I started the recruitment process during the course and landed the job mid-way through. Actually, during the course, the company asked me to start full-time since they had engineers working on their Machine Learning software. But since I was going to be managing the product and I’d already started the journey, I said I didn’t want to quit the course! I knew it could be useful for me in my future career.
They accepted it, and so I started working part-time, three hours a day alongside the course. When the course finished, I moved to full-time.
I noticed right away that I could apply many, many tools from the course!
That’s great – congratulations!
And what was it about Spiced that stood out to you?
The curriculum builds up very nicely and in the first few weeks it really enables you to compensate on the basics that you might lack. After, it really covers a broad range of topics that you can really deep dive into after the course.
In terms of what I saw at the time of choosing, Spiced was by far the most complete course. It’s also very close to reality in terms of the markets and what they’re looking for.
The idea of having weekly projects and a set routine was also very appealing for me. In fact, the only negative point of Spiced it was the fact it was more expensive – which was an issue for my contact at the Agentur für Arbeit, who wanted me to do a different, cheaper course.
I was determined, though! I explained to them that Spiced was more expensive because it was longer, personalised, there’s career guidance, smaller cohorts, great teachers… Basically, it’s more expensive because it’s worth it!
What did you find the most challenging aspects of the course?
I found it difficult to disconnect. Sometimes it’s a lot of information and it’s tough to process it all, but you just have to accept that you can’t know it all – you can’t go deep into the details of everything.
But it’s a good thing also – it’s a very intense learning journey.
What was your favourite aspect of the course?
The multidisciplinarity of it. The fact that we could do so many different things from different perspectives. We dealt with images, language, time series… Now we can approach Data Science from many different angles.
And seeing your progress is really incredible. When you look back at the first week and think how much you can do now in comparison? That’s really amazing.
How about your instructors, how were they?
They were great! They are very knowledgeable, and also very humble about what they know. They’re not afraid to say “I don’t know this”. They also inspire us a lot and have a lot of patience. They’re very patient! Because I have to admit, I was a really bad student in terms of bothering them with bad questions, and they were always there to answer me… They were really amazing.
I’m sure your questions were great! Finally, describe Spiced for me in three words?
“Super coding family”!
I see it like this: Spiced is giving birth to all these Full Stack and Data Science babies every once in a while! All the people are so nice at Spiced and you really have this family feeling. I really appreciated that.