Dilyara Timerkaeva wanted to shift from academia to data science, so she knew she would need a portfolio of real world projects to land her dream data scientist roles. In her research process, Galvanize’s Remote Data Science Immersive stood out to Dilyara, but first she had to get in! Dive inside the Galvanize application process with Dilyara, learn about the Galvanize Prep curriculum, and get exclusive tips directly from the Galvanize team about interview questions and the ideal applicant.
Dilyara, you have advanced STEM degrees — why did you feel like you needed to apply to data science bootcamp like Galvanize?
My background is in physics, and I’ve studied computational physics, computers, programming, and so on. Moving into data science made sense because it ties in with my mathematical, theoretical, and physical education background. I spent years in my academic career, but it’s difficult to find a permanent position within academia and higher ed jobs require you to move around. I started looking into industrial careers in my area. Especially with COVID-19, so many jobs now allow you to work from wherever you are.
I began teaching myself about data science, but I wanted practical experience and projects to work on. In order to successfully pivot into data science, I felt that I needed to have actual experience to show potential employers. I also wanted access to a career services team to help me find a job. For these reasons, I abandoned my self-teaching and signed up for a bootcamp.
The Key Traits Galvanize Looks For in Applicants
“There are a few commonalities that many of our grads share. First, successful grads are often those who enjoy the process of problem-solving; data scientists often have to focus on the technicalities of problem-solving and there often isn’t a “right answer,” so it’s important to have an open mind, ask questions, and enjoy the problem-solving process. Secondly, storytelling can be an important trait of a data scientist: a good data scientist should obviously have a good handle on manipulating and interpreting data, but a great data scientist should also be able to apply the findings in a way that provides meaningful insights, actionable directives, and in a way that makes sense to other stakeholders who may not be quite as data-savvy.”
There are so many online data science bootcamps now! What stood out about Galvanize?
From my first interaction with Galvanize, I felt supported by them. The energy of the school and staff was so positive and encouraging, and this matched my own personality. There are many online data science bootcamps, but when I saw the completed projects by Galvanize students and spoke to the admissions team, Galvanize really stood out.
How did you prepare for the Galvanize application? Did you complete Galvanize’s Data Science Prep Course?
After I spoke with an admissions rep about my background, resume, and diplomas, I enrolled in the data science prep course. It’s online and self-paced. Since I didn't intensively focus on the prep course, it took me about 6 weeks to complete.
The course covered statistics, probability, and Python, and had us combining all of our skills to solve problems. There were also a few modules that focused on basic math for data science. I liked the overall consistency of the prep course. The lessons became gradually more complicated as I progressed. Galvanize made the curriculum in the prep course complete and in depth which gave me confidence in the coursework's material to come. It helped me master my programming skills.
The Galvanize Admissions Process: What to Expect
Was there a technical interview to get into Galvanize’s data science bootcamp?
After passing the prep course, there was a 45-minute technical interview. For me, the math part of the technical interview was simple, but it still took time and concentration to solve, plus I still needed to study for it. The prep course helped me recall the old math I learned in school and prepared me for this technical interview.
Can you share some sample questions from the Galvanize interview?
There were several Python questions, statistical problems, and probability problems.
Example Question from Galvanize’s Technical Assessment:
Was the data science prep course worth it for you?
I could not have passed the exam without completing the prep course. By carefully going through the course, I tuned up my programming skills and prepared for the interview. For that reason, I did really well in the technical interview!
The prep course also prepared me to begin the bootcamp with the right mindset and skill set required to succeed.
Galvanize Prep Courses: Basic Prep vs Premium Prep
Both of Galvanize’s prep courses are focused on preparing students for the Data Science Immersive admissions process. The main difference between Basic Prep and Premium Prep is the level of support students receive from Galvanize’s Prep Team.
Project-based learning was a key reason why you enrolled at Galvanize. What kind of projects did you work on in the bootcamp?
We completed three projects over the course of the bootcamp. We started with a data exploration project. There wasn’t a lot of time to decide what I wanted to focus on or to find the data, so I made sure to have a few ideas early in the program. For these projects:
For my final project, I built a popular science book recommender. There was only two weeks to form the idea, find the dataset, make it work, and then present it. The time pressure was challenging. I needed a dataset to work with, and I although had a lot of ideas where to get this data, most of them didn't work! I tried and failed repeatedly, until I reached out to Goodreads for data. When I had finished the project, it felt great. To start from zero and end with something you made is an incredible feeling.
How did you connect and collaborate with your cohort remotely?
We were communicating with each other the entire time at the bootcamp. We primarily connected through Slack and Zoom. We liked to study together over Zoom and we always had Slack open for other types of conversations, like sending files, sessions, and when we had questions on programming.
Originally, I wanted to attend Galvanize in-person, but I ended up loving not commuting to a bootcamp campus each day. I was so involved in the remote bootcamp and in connecting with my cohort, so loneliness was not an issue.
How did the competitive application process impact your cohort at Galvanize? Did everyone have the same background/experience?
My cohort had students with many levels of experience. What makes Galvanize special is that the bootcamp is built in a way that no matter what your level of experience, you take away something precious. With my STEM background, I could take a higher level of information and deeper understanding from the curriculum. I found the bootcamp to be extremely challenging because I took the time to delve deep into the concepts and sought to understand them fully. I wanted to know the theories, not just the programming part. Galvanize taught in a way that prepared us to apply those concepts well.
If you don’t get into Galvanize, can you re-apply?
Absolutely! Any students who don’t successfully get into Galvanize their first time around should try brushing up on concepts by taking our prep courses, which cover the fundamentals of statistics, probability, and Python. Students may take the Technical Interview up to three times. After this interview, an Enrollment Advisor will relay next steps within two business days.
Now that you’ve graduated, which data science roles do you feel qualified to apply for?
There are so many different opportunities in the data science field. Everyone in my cohort came into the bootcamp with a different specialization, like music, finance, dance, or computer science. We all applied for Data Scientist, Data Engineer, and Data Analyst positions, but in areas that suited our own personal background.
How has Galvanize’s career services prepared you for the job hunt both during the bootcamp and since graduating?
Galvanize’s career services does an outstanding job at coaching students to overcome difficulties, rejections, and boost confidence and determination. During the bootcamp, the career services team gave lectures to help us prepare for the interviewing process. We also had meet-up sessions with recruiters where they answered our questions and gave us career tips. Career services provided us with material about how the job search works, how to network, how to prepare for interviews, build my portfolio, and stay focused. It was super effective training for me.
Since graduating from the bootcamp, we have weekly meetups with our career services specialist in order to discuss our progress and strategy, set career goals, and prepare for upcoming interviews. Galvanize is always ready to answer my job search questions.
What has been your greatest challenge in this journey becoming a data scientist?
The whole thing has been a challenge! In the bootcamp, there is so much information to absorb in such a short amount of time, from conceptual knowledge to the programming skills you need to solve a problem. The capstone was tricky because you had to come up with a great idea, find the data set, then apply the knowledge and programming skills that I had just learned. At the same time, the bootcamp was fun, too. At Galvanize, I always felt supported and knew that I would receive help when I needed it.
Looking back on this career change, was Galvanize worth it for you?
Pivoting from academia to data science through a bootcamp has changed my life! By enrolling at Galvanize, I became more qualified for the positions that I hoped to find. I have the tools I need to be seen as an authority in the field. Companies with research and development (R&D) are happy to take someone who has these additional skills in their pocket. With my background in physics and data science, I can cover a much needed gap in any R&D team. Plus, I'm a more interesting and valuable candidate with a broad range of knowledge.
Galvanize provided me with everything that they said they would, and in the end it worked! I have felt so confident since graduating, and I am happy to have projects in my GitHub. It was really important for me to have a portfolio to show potential employers. The projects I created in the bootcamp define my knowledge of techniques and my skill set. Recruiters are more interested in me now because of my projects.
What do you wish you knew before applying to Galvanize?
I am always asking questions. I'm very comfortable with not knowing something and seeking the answer. I was never afraid to ask the team anything that crossed my mind. That said, even though I spoke up often, I wish I had been braver! If I could go back into the past, I would tell myself to go in with confidence and trust that Galvanize would deliver on everything they promised to set me up for success.
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