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From Academia to Data Analyst | How Data Science Alumna Nikki Ramchander Found Her Dream Industry

  • Worked as a Student Assistant at her university
  • Had a passion for data science but wanted guidance, support, and training
  • Received a degree in cognitive science but lacked the hands-on skills to get into the industry
After Dojo:
  • Works as a Data Analyst at Western Digital
  • Has strong skills and a knowledge base to support her new career
  • Dreams of revisiting getting her Master’s Degree after gaining more experience in her field
Program: Online Data Science Part-Time Bootcamp

If I didn’t take this bootcamp, I know I would have never gotten a call back or been prepared to even think about applying to data science jobs.

Tell us a little about yourself. Age, hobbies, passions, and what you were doing (professionally) before the bootcamp?

So I’m currently 23 and have hobbies like any fresh college graduate. I love hanging out with friends and I actually just moved back home. So it’s been nice just catching up with everyone. 
Prior to taking this bootcamp, I was just a student assistant at my university. 

Beyond the desire of learning data science, why did you decide to enroll in a coding bootcamp? 

In college, I got a degree in cognitive science and I felt like I got a very theory-based education and it wasn’t that much of a technical background in cognitive science. I had always loved data science and learning about data science. So as soon as I graduated, I just wanted to join a data science bootcamp.

What sealed the deal on Coding Dojo? Why did you choose us over other programs?

So I graduated from college in December, 2020, and before that semester I was already looking for data science boot camps, and I think back then Coding Dojo was the first one that just kind of popped up online. I looked into it, but obviously being in college, I thought, “Okay, I’m just going to put this in the back of my mind and come back to it when I’m ready.” 
And it just so happened when I came back, I also connected with an old friend and she had actually signed up for a bootcamp at Coding Dojo. It was really nice to know that someone close to me was already a part of this bootcamp. So I was like, “Okay, if she has positive things to say, then I might as well give it a try.”
As for why I chose Coding Dojo over other programs, I was drawn to the fact that you didn’t need any program experience, which I didn’t have. I had taken one intro to C++ in college, but besides that I didn’t have any programming experience. And also it was the price point for it. I looked at other boot camps and the price point was great, as was the duration of the class since you also had additional office hours and you could meet with your friends over Zoom and talk about the work. So it all worked out perfectly for me.

Walk us through your first few weeks in the program. What were the parts you liked? Parts you struggled with? 

My expectations going in was that I wanted to learn everything about data science. I was very interested in machine learning and the whole aspect of data cleaning. So when I looked over the curriculum, it had touched every single topic that I wanted and in an extensive way. The nice thing was even prior to diving deep into data cleaning and machine learning, we also learned Python. So that was really great too because I had tried taking Python on my own, just Googling and trying to figure it out, so it was nice to actually have someone teach you and be there for office hours to help with questions and all of that. 

Do you have any fun anecdotes to share about your time in the bootcamp? Make good friends? Fond memories? 

It was really funny because my teacher was so great. So there would always be times where you’d wonder what to do when you have missing values. Do you just want to drop everything or do you want to fill it in or specifically in machine learning models? Which models to run or which metrics to apply to those models? And the best part was, well, obviously we’re working on a project and we know the answer or what we’re trying to find, but when you’re in the real world, you’re just trying to answer other people’s questions.  
So every time we would run these models and there are so many metrics to choose from, we would always ask her like, “Which one do you think is the right one?” And she would always say, “It depends. It really just depends on what you’re trying to get from the data.” 
So that was the best part. It was like a joke in our class that every time someone would say something and we’d answer with, “No, no, no, it depends, what are you trying to find?” That was really funny. And then in class, every time if we did really well or something, our instructor Noel couldn’t reward us but she would always give us brownie points because her last name is Brown, so she would give us brownie points and we’d all be really happy about that.

When your graduation date was approaching, how did you feel about your skills and job prospects?

Yeah, so I think I finished the course in April and then I spent like a week or two working on my resume. And then from there it was just like head on, apply, apply, apply. So I had used many websites, LinkedIn, Indeed, Zip Recruiter just going on a company’s website, looking at their career pages and then going from there.
I also want to mention that beyond your classroom, there’s a huge support system. Coding Dojo has Discord servers specifically for Coding Dojo students and alumni with many different channels. So within the server, you can work on your job hunt, celebrate your successes, and connect with others. There’s a channel for connecting with people on LinkedIn. So you just drop your LinkedIn there. If you need some connections you can get some connections there. So that’s fun. During my downtime, I just kind of go on the server to just check out what people are saying. They also have a LinkedIn group as well, so Coding Dojo posts information there too. So that was great support that Coding Dojo offers, too. 

How did the job hunt go? Where did you land a job?

So I had probably applied to over 500 jobs, maybe 600 jobs. I will say if I didn’t take this bootcamp, I know I would have never gotten a call back or been prepared to even think about applying to data science jobs.

So the positive thing from that, from applying to so many companies, is I did get a lot of callbacks. It was always like every week there were like two interviews and then a next round and then they would give a technical assessment. So I wasn’t worried about not hearing back from people because I did hear back from a lot of companies. 
As also a fresh college graduate, I was also applying to a lot of intern positions, fresh college graduate positions, and honestly, some job descriptions did say that, “Hey, we’re looking for a data science bootcamp person.” So, yeah, so I really looked over every job description. And then when it came to Western Digital, they had specifically listed it as it’s a new college grad position for data engineering. So when I saw that, I was like, “Okay, I got to jump on it. It’s pretty close to home. Just give it a shot.”
When it came to actually landing the job, I had phone interviews and I had Zoom interviews. I also had one of those interviews where you have back to back interviews with multiple people on the team. They also really looked over my projects and my portfolio. So they got a really good sense of what I’m capable of doing.

Beyond the data science expertise, did the bootcamp give you anything else? 

Well, the motivation was definitely built from taking this bootcamp beforehand. I was interested in data science, but to be honest, I wouldn’t have done it on my own. So it definitely gave me the motivation, the desire to just do really well and focus all of my time and effort into learning, getting good grades on the exam, and trying to answer these tough questions. So I think Coding Dojo and this class in particular gave me the motivation to do that.
And then when it comes, in terms of soft skills, like presenting and even doing an interview, it can be a bit nerve wracking and you can get a bit anxious. But I think just coming to class every day, talking to your instructor, talking with friends, it definitely built up the courage in me to just go forward and tackle the interviews with a calm mind and not be so nervous all the time. And then we also had presentations where we had to present to the entire class so it definitely helped me out in that sense, because then I was confident to talk about data science.

What advice do you have for others who are interested in coding/data science bootcamps or who are just starting one?

100% I would recommend. I think if anyone has the opportunity and if they have the motivation, the drive to get into a data science bootcamp, you should definitely take it at Coding Dojo. I had great experience with Coding Dojo. So 100% I would recommend this specific bootcamp to my friends and family.

What are your goals/dreams for the future, say 5 or 10 years from now?

When I graduated from college, I was like, “Okay, I know I’m not going to get a job, but I have two options, a bootcamp or a master’s degree.” And I had actually applied to a master’s program close to home, but I had applied as a spring admit so the program was already full and I was like, “Okay, well, I can’t waste my time so that’s why let’s take this bootcamp that Coding Dojo offers.” 
So going back to that, I would love to get a master’s, work for maybe two years to get more knowledge and experience and this position that I’m in now will definitely give me that opportunity. And then from there, I would love to join a master’s program in data science or data analytics. Then definitely work my way up the corporate ladder, just keep getting better, getting the recognition at work and yeah, just work myself up from there.
It’s a couple years of hard work, but I know the reward will be great. Just like how I worked very hard in the bootcamp and at that time I was uncertain where I’d be in a few months, but now when I look back, I’m grateful that I struggled and learned the material and then now I’m much happier.

If you are interested in learning how to code and upgrading your career, Coding Dojo bootcamp offers accelerated learning programs that can transform your life. We offer both part-time and full-time online courses, as well as onsite (post COVID-19) programs. We also offer financing options, scholarships, and other tuition assistance programs to help you with financial barriers. 
If you want to invest in yourself and your future, there is no better time than the present! If you’re interested, use this link to schedule a 15-minute exploratory session with one of our Admissions representatives today.