So how did it start?

My data science journey begun 3 years ago with a desire and a passion to get to this field. It developed so much that by 2018 I decided to start learning. Learning data science has been accompanied by an array of mixed feelings along the way. At one point things became difficult and at some point, the ride was very smooth. Thanks to many resourceful sites and people that has kept my passion alive. I have decided to share my experiences in this article that hopefully, they might encourage someone to continue pursuing the goal of being a data scientist.

Data science is a very wide area consisting of math, statistics, computer science, data visualization, etc. and the most challenging task for me was where to start. I read several articles by different people just to try and get the best bearing on the starting point. This was not easy as well. Every author had a different perspective on what to learn first. Some say you should begin with Python, others R, others, SQL, Math, and the varying opinions continue. This complicated the matter because as a learner, I wanted a straight forward way; a way that will enable me dive into data science easily.  

Are people’s experiences the same?

I came to realize that each individual has a unique journey into this field. Everyone follows his/her unique path in pursuit of his/her goals. For example, some got an opportunity to go to institutions that offered Data Science and Machine Learning and hence they were able to learn with much support as they needed. Others enrolled for online classes, some free others paid, and they were able to go through the learning process. Both categories have unique challenges and stories to tell. Nevertheless, if they work hard and remain consistent, they get the skills required to solve real-world problems. And this is why my story is also unique to me. The principles may be the same but the journey is quite unique.

Challenges?

So the greatest challenge at the beginning was getting a learning path. I needed curated content that would help me gain knowledge for data science progressively. I did a lot of searching for curated content or a curriculum that would facilitate gradual learning.

In addition to that, I needed people who identify with my needs and who would assist me in my nascent stages of data science. I remember at one time I decided to join a Facebook group for beginners in data science. I wanted to hear the experiences of other people but also gain knowledge on how to begin. So one day I asked a question on a concept that I had struggled to learn for long and I was given a very demeaning response that threw me off balance. I felt so disappointed when one of the group members told me that if I don’t know such a simple thing then I shouldn’t even think of learning data science. It was really hurting!

Despite the comment, I did not give up. I decided to leave the group and seek help elsewhere. I was determined to learn data science. Deep down my heart, I wanted to learn and grow in this area. I was not ready to give up. God in his own ways redirected my path to where there were relevant content and genuine help. I found very good sites that helped me kick start my data science learning experience.

Finally…

After a long time of searching, I got DataCamp that helped me get a basic Introduction to Python Programming. I was able to write my first python code and I was so excited. With time I was able to get other resourceful sites with relevant content for data science. I kept learning and practising.

My struggle of getting a curated learning path continued until I got Analytics Vidhya that provided me with a comprehensive learning path to become a data scientist. This was very liberating. It has made my life easy. It has provided a good roadmap on my data science journey. I have also been able to enroll for other courses at Analytics Vidhya including SQL for Data Science that gave me a solid foundation in SQL and working with relational databases. This site has very good courses and programs taught by experts and their learning support is awesome. I would gladly recommend to any aspiring data scientist.

Udemy and Coursera are also very resourceful learning sites with hundreds of relevant data science and machine learning courses. I have benefited a lot from their content. Most of my data science and machine learning techniques are as a result of these learning sites. I would equally recommend them.

I may not be able to list all the sites that I have been able to get good content for my data science journey, but I can assure you that there is so much content online that can help you. Some of the courses are free and some of them are at a cost worth paying for. The other good news is that there are also many people out there who are willing to help and are very kind to share their knowledge with others.

I have also been able to read several articles on Data Science, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence. This has helped me continue learning. One such good article is by Jaime Duran on Medium where he penned down very useful resources for an aspiring data scientist. I really like it!

I have also been able to participate in meet-ups like the ones organized by Ai Kenya that have helped me network and learn from other people.

As I kept learning, I decided to start this blog, Your Data Guy, to help me share what I have learnt and help others who are also beginning their data science journey. I have also decided that after every concept or topic learnt, I must do at least one project and write an article about it. Some of these articles I haven’t published on this blog, but they are part of my motivation towards pursuing this interest.     

So?…

In this journey, have learnt several lessons:

  • Determination to keep pursuing my goal. Never give up in doing what you are passionate about. Detractors may be on your way, but keep going. There is a lot of light at the end of the tunnel as they say.
  • There are so many resources online and can sometimes be overwhelming. Choose wisely.
  • Get a learning path and follow it. Learning is hard work. Be consistent. Even when you get discouraged and things become too hard, relax and keep moving as a gallant soldier.
  • Be patient with yourself. Learning is a process not an event. Take one day at a time.
  • Take some simple projects to help you master the skills.
  • Finally, share your knowledge and experiences with other people. Let others learn from you.

The journey has a cocktail of experiences. I have spent a lot of time learning new concepts and sharpening my already acquired skills through projects. The little milestones I have reached give me joy each day and a motivation to keep learning. Every day is a day for learning. Keep at it.

My data science journey continues. I’m still in the process of learning. I keep pushing myself to learn new things. Learning is time-consuming and so it has been one of the challenges. I have a full-time job and so most of my learning happens very early in the morning before I go to work or once in a while over the weekends when my schedule is flexible. But all in all, learning happens. I’m very deliberate to make time for it.