Project-focused data science bootcamps speed time to employment

Elizabeth Gemmiti completed the Data Science diploma from BrainStation.

With a background in finance and accounting, Elizabeth Gemmiti had been thinking about pursuing a program in data science, and when her job ended earlier this year, she saw it as an opportunity to seize the moment and explore a program in her area of interest.

“I used to work up the street from BrainStation and when I recently lost my job due to COVID-19 I decided to check them out. I saw they had the Data Science diploma — it was something I have been curious about to better understand data at a deeper level,” she says.

Gemmiti liked the project-based learning experience offered in the program and that BrainStation students build a portfolio of work to help them obtain a job. Since completing the program she has been interviewing with a company for a position working in data science and customer success.

“The manager asked me about my data science diploma from BrainStation and what kind of skills I learned. He was pretty impressed and said it would serve what I needed to know for the job,” she says.

She says completing the course entirely online was challenging but she felt supported along the way and that has extended into her job hunt.

“I’ve been to three universities and I find BrainStation has some of the best career support in terms of providing resources and giving you exposure and connecting you to the right people,” she says.

It’s a virtual world

Learning via remote platforms is one thing, but networking, interviewing and landing a new job in a virtual world is a next-level experience for many people these days as the global pandemic pushes all aspects of career development online.

Like many schools this fall, BrainStation has been working to evolve its delivery model and that includes increasing the tools it provides graduates to help them find work, especially for in-demand skills in the technology sector.

“There may still be some caution in organizations as they work through the impact of the pandemic, but the hiring climate for jobs related to digital skills is strong,” says Michael Bennett, manager, career success at BrainStation in Toronto.

In fact, many companies have accelerated their digital transformation initiatives, including adopting new digital channels and re-focusing on e-commerce.

“There was already a gap for digital skills like data, design, digital marketing, and web development, and the last few months have further increased the importance of these skills,” says Bennett.

Even since early March, when COVID-19 put the brakes on many in-person meetings and networking opportunities, students have been able to continue to connect with prospective employers, says Bennett.

“Over the last few months, we’ve seen an increase in the rate of digitization, with organizations and entire industries adopting digital-first approaches and channels,” he says.

That means many organizations can better manage relationships in a virtual world than they were a few months ago.

Data is driving business forward

Based on its on-going analysis and experience speaking with hiring partners, Bennett says the organizations that are best navigating these uncertain times are those using data to drive decision-making, engage audiences on digital channels, and create better user experiences.

“This will not change for the foreseeable future, and I expect that to continue influencing hiring priorities and decisions,” he adds.

To date, BrainStation’s hiring partners are moving ahead with virtual hiring and onboarding using Zoom and Google Meet, among other tools.

“We have done the same,” says Bennett.

Helping graduates connect with employers

“Over the years, we’ve built a talent network of more than 1,000 hiring partners interested in developing a pipeline of emerging tech talent. These are some of the most innovative companies in the world and are always looking for talented new web developers, data scientists, UX designers, and digital marketers,” says Bennett.

Throughout the year, BrainStation hosts several Demo Days — the graduate project showcase, which celebrates the work full-time students have accomplished during their diploma program.

“These are designed to connect graduates with cutting-edge companies, and it gives them a chance to demo their final projects to hiring partners and the BrainStation community,” says Bennett.

Virtual Demo Days were first introduced in 2018 after launching the first online, instructor-led bootcamps, and for the time being, all BrainStation Demo Days are held virtually.

“This gives graduates from our Data Science, Digital Marketing, UX Design, and Web Development programs the chance to present live demonstrations of their capstone projects to an audience of recruiters and hiring managers,” says Bennett.

An online exhibit for most recent BrainStation graduates includes a profile and a video demonstration of their final project. The page is shared directly with hiring partners and recruiters, and the Career Success team actively helps connect partners with graduates.

“We want students to be successful and this is a great resource for them to show employers,” says Bennett.

Providing resources to graduates

As part of a holistic approach to providing students with an experience that goes beyond just the course they enroll in, the Career Success Program at BrainStation provides graduates career guidance and helps them connect with recruiters and industry professionals. Thus far, the Career Success program has assisted more than 90 per cent of graduates in finding work within six months of graduation.

Throughout their time in a BrainStation diploma program, students will develop key contacts with tours of leading tech companies, “Power Hours” presented by industry leaders, and a range of BrainStation community events, including Demo Day, the graduate project showcase.

“Our Career Success team helps students create a professional résumé and prepares them for the job application process,” says Bennett. “This includes developing an online presence and personal brand and work-shopping interview skills with mock interviews.”

Gemmiti says the Power Hour sessions on Zoom were helpful and she has been working with a career advisor during her job hunt.

“They’ve connected me to a few people and it’s been great to have the online profile — you need as much exposure as you can get these days,” she says, adding this piece of advice for job hunters facing online interviews: “Stay motivated and stay focused. In interviews, turn off the self-view  on Zoom so you’re not distracted by what you look like.”

Gemmiti’s capstone project was about classifying a cannabis strain’s plant type based on the plant’s characteristics. A video of her presenting her findings is posted to the BrainStation website and includes a link to download her résumé and to her LinkedIn profile.

Interested in learning more about data science programs at BrainStation? Explore BrainStation’s Data Science courses here.