Seeing the challenges of Covid as an opportunity for growth, Marcel decided to explore his interest in data at a deeper level. He tells us how Spiced Academy’s Data Science course allowed him to develop his skills and find exciting job prospects.
Hi Marcel! Could you tell us a little bit about your educational and professional background?
I started with Mechanical Engineering in my bachelors and I was continuing with aeronautic engineering in my masters. A bit of programming was part of my studies, but it wasn’t really a big thing.
During the time I was studying, I also worked in a research institute for innovation and digitalisation. Buzzwords like Data Science, Big Data, and how to deal with big data came up a lot. At this point I was thinking, okay, this is something cool and this is something that I might be interested in. But until the start of the bootcamp I didn’t have the opportunity to dive deeper into the topic of data science unfortunately.
However I developed that spark of interest. Later in my studies I got more into programming and realised “okay, it’s better than expected, you’re more talented in this than you thought”.
After my studies I started working in the aeronautical industry. I started in March 2020, so it was exactly the time when Corona occurred and the aeronautical industry was having a rough time, so it became clear that it wasn’t an option to stay in this industry.
So in September 2020 I was thinking about what path I wanted to take regarding my professional life. Analyzing the job market it became obvious that for engineers it was more than rough since many people, especially in Hamburg, from Lufthansa Technik, Airbus and further aeronautical companies were also looking for jobs.
As a consequence I took the decision to do another semester I call it, to educate myself. I was planning out what kind of things I wanted to learn, things I wasn’t able to learn before. Pretty much the first thing that came to my mind was the data science course.
It was the end of 2020 when I spotted Spiced Academy. I thought this is something I would really, really like to do. I wanted to dive in, to get a little bit more knowledge in the IT world.
So I felt this was a great opportunity. I had the time and I had the possibility to do it. And then I started with my data science course in Hamburg in May!
You’re in Hamburg, what are the job opportunities like there, especially for data scientists?
I think it’s pretty good. I already have a job offer, which I got yesterday. But of course you still have to put a lot of effort into applying to companies. I started applying half way through the course, so pretty soon after the the course I got into final talks of three different companies.
Many companies right now don’t just offer something in Hamburg because of the home office situation and remote working. For example, one of the companies is placed in Mannheim, but they have a small office in Hamburg. Everything is so digitalised right now that I could even work from Hamburg remotely, so it’s not a huge deal in the end.
Also the course prepared me pretty well. In one of the interviews I got a task where I had to prepare and clean some data, do some feature engineering and well, they didn’t have much to complain about.
Likewise I didn’t do a bad job in the other interviews either. When I told them what I did, they were very interested. So, this is why I’ve got so far, I guess.
Congratulations on the job offer! Could you take me back to when you finally decided, “right, I want to do a course”, when you started looking and made a decision, “this is for me”. What was driving you? What were your motivations?
When I was working as an engineering consultant, I realized I wanted to learn more because I was missing feeling challenged pretty quickly and I felt a little bit stuck already. I wanted to do something that makes me want or need to learn new things constantly.
Especially in data science or data engineering you will have to learn more with the years because there will be always new technologies, more methods. So I think this is a great path for me to fulfil my expectations.
This is why I chose the Data Science course in December 2020. I felt it matches my interest in IT which I developed before, that I liked programming. But as I already mentioned I could never really dive into it as part of my studies. I could only do it as a side thing but the time was limited.
Also I lacked the knowledge to really use a programming language at ease in a specific topic. This is something that I thought the Spiced Academy bootcamp would give me.
So, you were obviously making this decision during coronavirus and even during quite harsh lockdown conditions. Did it play any part in your decision?
Well without Corona I wouldn’t have done it probably, because the logical thing would have been to continue with my old job and to look if there were new opportunities in the direction I was going already.
But since Corona happened, I got the opportunity to think about my future and to maybe pursue a path that I wanted to do, but which I didn’t have the possibility to do. So, it wasn’t really scary, to be honest. It was more a little bit exciting, that I could do something new.
I liked the opportunity to learn new stuff. At the beginning of this year, I did many things, I learned a lot and this is actually what I really, really like. I was anticipating with curiosity rather than anxiety the beginning of the bootcamp. I was very excited about what I would learn!
Yeah, so you you’ve got a job offer already. What’s the role and how will you be using your newfound skills?
The new job offer would be as a data engineer, so more in the engineering part first of all. Building up the data pipelines between the incoming data and the data lakes and constructing the IT-infrastructure. Although the new job would still make me have to learn many more profound aspects of data engineering, the Spiced-bootcamp provides a solid basis to further build my skills upon.
With regards to Spiced, when you were doing your research, what was it about Spiced that stood out to you?
First of all I was just simply Googling for courses. I was looking at some of the courses presented and I had a first talk with some of these academies. I had the feeling that the Spiced Academy tries to prepare you the best with the material they gave you. I felt like there was a very clear structure of where they want the students to be. For example, in other courses, I felt it was more open like, “yeah, inform yourself, but do it however you want”. I liked the clear vision of the Spiced Academy that, “we need this and this, we will go there and there”. I felt more comfortable with the Spiced Academy for that.
Nice, good to hear. What did you find in the course to be the most challenging aspects?
The most challenging aspect to start was just to get into Python. For me, it was completly new. We had to prepare our skills in Python already and the first steps were a little bit difficult. But at some point, it gets so natural that after a few weeks you are just using Python like you always used it. It gets so intuitive with time.
There were some topics that were more challenging. Especially the data engineering/ software engineering part was very demanding, but it was also the most interesting. I like to be challenged a bit so it was perfect for me.
On the flip side of that, what was your favourite aspect of the course?
The favourite aspect of the course is that you always get help when you need it. You never feel lost. You do your weekly projects and at the beginning of the week it looks so far away. You get your task and you think “how do I get there?”. But for me each day got more and more clear. The teachers are so amazing that whenever you feel a little bit lost, they come to you and they’ll help you and they put you back on track.
Okay, your answer is kind of linked to my next question; tell us about your instructors?
Ugur and Camina were extremely lovely and competent. I had an amazing time with them. Our whole cohort had an amazing time with them.
Whenever you have a question, they were there, and it was so easy to talk to them. They were so empathetic and nice to you. They never made you feel awkward for asking a maybe “stupid” question. It was kind of inspiring to listen to them, to attend the lessons, to learn from them. You can really feel they are people with a lot of competence.
And do you have any advice for potential Spiced students?
Well, my advice would be to just dive in, to not be scared. Maybe in the beginning it seems like a lot for some people possibly. Getting into Python in the beginning might be a little bit bumpy, but at some point, it will feel so natural, and it comes with time.
So don’t get discouraged and just look forward to the things you learn because you will always get help to get into the topics. You will never feel alone. You can ask either of the teachers or even your classmates. I was talking a lot with my classmates during the course, even though it was only online. We were in our breakout rooms giving each other some advice. One was asking for one aspect, and you could show a little bit about how your approach was, and it was very constructive all the time.
Finally, Spiced in three words?
Inspiring. Demanding. Exciting.
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