Data Science Retreat (DSR) helps coders or people with significant quantitative training (e.g. science, engineering, or math graduates) ramp-up quickly for a career in data science – arguably the fastest-growing, highest-demand profession. DSR is a 3-month, rigorous, and full-time/intensive course in the startup-capital of Europe: Berlin.
The goal is to learn software engineering, data science, and business communication faster and more deeply with mentors doing code reviews plus pair-programming – all on real-world data and valuable problems.
There are lots of people with a technical background that want to get into data science. They have done a few coursera courses, but they don’t get jobs when they apply. Deep down, they know they are not ready for the job market. And they find this out when they apply for data science jobs. Companies on the other hand complain that it’s not easy to get qualified candidates. For example, Alex Kagoshima from Pivotal mentioned to me that It takes them 150 phone interviews to find someone who is good enough to bring in to continue on-site.
Let’s consider an imaginary profile we’ll call ‘junior data scientist’. Has a technical degree, has done some courses online, and has never worked with data that generates value to companies. He may be able to apply ‘recipes’, but not think creatively about data sources and algorithms. In my experience, this profile has little to no value in the industry. Since the data scientist will produce predictions that could change the course of the business, the management team must trust him completely. That kind of trust is only possible with senior data scientists. So a junior data scientist is in a predicament. How do you cross the chasm to become senior, when companies have little use of your skills while junior?
The only answer that I could come up with was to do DSR: a bootcamp for pretty good data scientists to get even better, create a portfolio project that would convince pretty much any company, and get hired.
The DSR curriculum reflects our conversations with companies. While there’s tutorial material, we move away from a passive lecture and into problems and projects. The Meerkat method goes against more established methods, where you go bottom-up (from simple tasks to complex ones) by starting with a project. In Meerkat, you start with the most complex task that a Mentor thinks you can complete. He’ll start with something that is challenging maybe even for himself. You are helping him, like the Learners in middle-ages guilds helped the Mentors.
There are other bootcamps for data science; nowadays, there are even some University programs that are not desperately ‘out of touch’. Two things make DSR different: (1) all mentors are at the chief-data-scientist level, and (2) We start with real projects and only when it’s too much for the student we simplify to the level of problem or exercise. We call this the Meerkat method. Meerkat is a method to get people to learn at the right speed by putting together a Mentor and an Learner. It is inspired in how meerkats teach their puppies to eat scorpions. The mentor picks a project that is challenging gives it to the learner, and waits till the learner declares defeat. Then the mentor slightly simplifies the project, and gives it back to the learner; This happens a few more iterations, till the learner can solve the task. Meerkat method skips ‘exercises’ (that is, problems that are simple enough for anyone to solve) because it forces the learner to be at their stretch zone all the time.
If you are interested in applying for Data Science retreat, there are two batches: May 1st – July 31st, and Aug 1st – Sept 30th. Deadline for applications May batch: April 15, 2014
For more information, see: datascienceretreat.com?