From Submitting an Application Dashboard to a Data School Acceptance

by Lisa Hitch

Disclaimer: This article is about my timeline from when I submitted my first application dashboard until I received the acceptance into the Data School. If you are interested in how I prepared for my initial application dashboard without any previous Tableau background, check out my previous post "How to go from 0 to a Data School Application Dashboard in 40 days".



In my mind, the time between submitting my initial application and getting accepted into the Data School was divided into 3 parts.


1. Prepare for Phone Interview

About a week after I submitted my initial application, I received an email that I was selected to proceed to the phone interview round (which is really a Google Meet or Zoom interview).

The interview itself lasted about 30 minutes and consisted of:

  • 5 Minutes introductions
  • 5 Minutes presenting my initial application dashboard (you will share your screen)
  • 10 minutes feedback on my presentation style and my initial application dashboard
  • 5 minutes to answer 2-3 consulting specific questions
  • 10 minutes feedback on my answers to those questions (and what answers would have been better)

I prepared a lot for this stage. I went over my dashboard and practiced my presentation (make sure to NOT go over the time limit!). I especially practiced how to get my 3 main analysis points across while also being engaging and not reading from a script.

I also prepared a "Guide" document with potential consulting questions and potential answers, e.g. "Why do you want to be a data consultant?" or "What is a data consultant".

Lastly, I just made sure that my technology was set up, I was on time, and got a good night of sleep.

As intimidating as this sounds, the interview itself was actually quite fun and relaxed! The questions were quite straight forward and not meant to trip you up. I also loved hearing all the feedback both about my dashboard and my answers. I learned a lot that I carried over into my final dashboard and interview. My advice? Make sure to write notes either during or directly after the interview - all that feedback is extremely valuable! The interviewers will also look whether you incorporated that feedback in later rounds.


2. Prepare Final Application Dashboard

I was told in the phone interview that the team would love to see me in the final interview stage. I was beyond excited! I then had about one week to take a little break before I received the dataset for the final dashboard. Once I received the final dataset, I had 8 days to submit my final version. I will write a separate post on how I approached working with a new dataset, but in short: Make sure that you read all the materials that come with it (e.g. user guide, websites, code book), take some time to clean and explore the dataset, and then settle on a story that you would like to tell with your dashboard. Don't overcomplicate it, but make sure that your analysis does not only stay on the surface. To me, it also helped to have a target audience in mind. Who am I presenting my results to? Is it a specific company, a health department, or the general public?

Remember, you do not need to use the whole dataset!

You can focus on a certain subset of the data or supplement the dataset with another dataset (if you feel comfortable doing that).

During this time, I was also assigned a "Buddy" from the Data School. Elaine was an amazing resource and gave me such valuable feedback. I sent her an early draft a few days after I received the dataset and gave myself enough time to incorporate all of her feedback. Your buddy is also a great resource if you're stuck on something or have general questions about the life at the Data School. Just be mindful that they are volunteering their time while working full-time to help you with your application!


3. Prepare for Final Interview

After I submitted my final dashboard, I had about 2 days to prepare for my final interview. I practiced, practiced, and practiced the presentation of my dashboard and prepared more consulting questions and answers (similar to what I did in the phone interview stage).

The final interview itself was (again!) a lot of fun! After a round of introductions, I presented my dashboard to a team of 5 core consultants/coaches/recruitment team members and received extensive feedback from every single one. Keep in mind that the feedback is NOT personal and may seem harsh. This is not to drag you down, but to challenge you to become better and improve. Especially if you do not get in the first time (a lot of Data Schoolers take 2 or even 3 rounds to get in), take that feedback to heart and implement it in your next application.

After the feedback, each of the interviewers asked me one question, mostly relating to consulting scenarios. I was also given a small dashboard and was tasked to give my feedback on it, e.g. what I would do differently.

The days after the interview were a rollercoaster of emotions. One day, I was happy with how it went. Another day, my mind only focused on the negative feedback and suddenly had a very bad feeling about the outcome. My advice to my past self would be to try and distract yourself as much as possible and simply wait. The time does not go by faster if you beat yourself up about tiny mistakes!

3 days after my interview, I received the phone call that I got into the Data School. In the moment, I was so speechless that it felt like I couldn't even articulate my excitement. But I was able to immediately give a response to the question whether I would accept the offer: YES, absolutely!


Photo by Damian Zaleski / Unsplash

Calendar picture illustrated by Lisa Hitch.