How I learnt Data Science, worked as a freelance writer and found my first data job

This was supposed to be a small topic in the community. I just wanted to share some good news with everyone, but when I started writing I felt that I had more to share. So I wrote about my journey to achieve the I had just achieved and the topic got too big that it became this article. This is my story with programming, data science, and Dataquest. I hope you like it.


My first contact with coding

This is the topic that I’ve always wanted to create. Over a year ago (January 2020) I started learning Python on YouTube. The idea was to add another tool to my resume that would help me get my first job.

My only contact with code had happened in a C++ class back in college, 8 years ago and I had never written a line of code since. Because of that, programming seemed a bit scary for me, but I had free time and was eager to learn, and so I took on the challenge. But yes, it was very hard at the beginning. The word “code” was a bit frightening to me. I mean if it’s code, if it’s encoded then I shouldn’t be able to understand it, right? But I kept going.

Discovering Data Science and Dataquest

While I was learning Python on YouTube, I remember reading somewhere that I should learn SQL as well. I didn’t have a clue what SQL was. I found a free course on it, though, and started to write my first selects. This was when I got familiar with the term Data Science and then I found out about Dataquest. This changes everything.

After a one-month subscription, I was granted a six-month scholarship that allowed me to go through the entire Data Scientist path. Sometimes I think I wouldn’t have made it without this help, so thank you DQ, a lot!

So we’re in May 2020 and I was studying and coding my entire day for months. At this point, things weren’t too hard anymore. I was starting to write my own code and create my first projects. But then I started to have ideas for projects that I didn’t have the data to execute. It was when I found out about web scraping.

This is a moment that I’m particularly proud of. I had identified the need to gather data, but I didn’t know how to do it. Of all the programming courses I took, none of them had a deep approach to scraping. So I went and taught it to myself. Hours, days, and weeks reading tutorials, questions on Stack Overflow, writing code, getting errors, fixing code. It was an important moment in the journey.

This was also when I started writing. While reading those blogs and tutorials on the internet, I realized that I could (and wanted to) write articles like that too.

From writing my first article to getting paid for articles

My first article was not even meant to be an article. I was just sharing with the DQ community a project (a scraping project!) that I thought was cool enough to share. @nityesh saw some potential there and suggested publishing it and a few hours later I had my first article on a blog.

This is a good moment to talk about the community and its importance to me. Spending more time interacting and answering questions here made me more engaged with my own learning process. It also made me feel good for helping other learners (which also helped me to solidify my learning) and gave me the opportunity to meet people from all over the world. The community is an awesome tool. Take advantage of it.

After the first article, I started writing always that I thought a project was cool enough to share until I got an offer to write paid articles. But not any kind of article: web scraping articles. And the pieces start coming together.

It was at this moment that I felt that code was no longer code to me. It felt natural. As natural as reading or writing a post on the Community. I realized I was beginning to become fluent in another language. It felt a lot like when English started making sense to me and I began to naturally understand what people were saying.

I can’t stress enough how important this was to me, both financially and emotionally, when I was going through a not-so-pleasant moment of my life. I was unemployed in the middle of a pandemic and sometimes you just feel that things won’t happen for you.

But I kept pushing. I knew I was doing the right thing and that I had to trust the process. Things won’t happen overnight. Do the right thing, repeat it for a while. Trust the process and the results will come.

Attracting the attention of companies and getting my first data job

All these articles and projects helped me attract the attention of some companies either because they work as an advertisement of myself or because they’re good portfolio to show and talk about in an interview or cover letter.

Sometimes a small action that you take today can have I huge impact on your future. This is how I feel about sharing that first project, or learning web scraping, or deciding to learn programming in the first place. I had no idea where that would lead me.

And finally, at the beginning of 2021, I got the results of the process: I got my job. I now work for a global consulting company. We work inside a huge bank in Brazil, which has a lot to do with my background, as I have a degree in economics.

I use Python and SQL on a daily basis. These skills not only helped me get the job, but they are also helping me to stand out in the company. So yes, the process was worth it and the hard work paid off.

Final words

I wrote all this because the process of learning something is hard and long and it’s easy to get demotivated at some point and maybe this can help someone to believe that it is possible to achieve your goals. But I didn’t want to give the reader the idea that things were easy and quick. It’s great to have goals, but it’s necessary to be aware of the struggles.

If you read all this, thank you. Because of the new job and the changes I had in my life in the last few months, I haven’t been as active in the Community as in the past. But I’m always around. Feel free to drop me a message if you need anything.


Cover image created by freepic.diller - br.freepik.com

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Thanks for inspiring us @otavios.s! Just wanted to add on some points to encourage others!

Yep, determination is needed when the going gets tough!

Indeed. For me it was getting started with labbing in Cybersec. At first I thought I will wait out for school to teach me enough theory (basically procrastinating because of imposter syndrome), but then again you can’t trade hands-on experience and starting out something with just theory. Once you start something it will only get easier. Totally agree with this point.

I can testify to this. I would have been content with what they taught us in school for Python and not gone into OOP, Pandas, Numpy and other libraries I’m currently working on, in order to help others (sometimes I have no clue too but I read up and try to understand the concept and from there I will try to explain it in simple terms or an analogy). Indirectly, the community “forced” me to gain more knowledge and cement my existing foundation, which is definitely a good thing! Do consider volunteering your time in the community!

Yes, it’s also important to understand routes. There are no short cuts to learning. Give it your best, we in the community will support you, both with technical and emotional support! When you are stuck, take a break to refresh your mind before coming back to the problem. Hopefully that would give you a clear mind and different perspective.

Thanks again for writing this article and sharing your story!

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That’s an awesome piece of motivation, @otavios.s! It’s great to read that from a Brazilian folk. We often think that because we are not native speakers, we will embarrass ourselves by publishing content in a foreign language. That isn’t nice because it prevents us from living outstanding experiences. It’s nice to read about someone who passed through that wall. One day I will, haha.
Congratulations on the job and the article! Keep inspiring us
Saudações cariocas haha

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Good observations @masterryan.prof, I agree with them all. I’m glad you liked my story and I would love to hear yours as well someday!

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Fala @vinigomesaraujo, tudo certo?

Thank you!

I love to find other fellow Brazilians here in the community, it’s always good to interact! It’s great to have you here!

Yeah, it’s kinda hard to begin writing in a new language, but the best way is to just do it. You know, when you start writing and publishing the motivation only increases. Also, there are great tools to help. I use Grammarly a lot and even Google translator is very helpful.

Um abraço!

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Tudo certo e por aí? Torcendo pela vacina haha

Yeah! I agree with that. The best way to overcome that is by trying. I’m using Grammarly, and it helps a lot. Thanks for everything

Um abraço

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Great article! Not only a lesson on getting into data carreer, but a lesson on how things works nowadays, the learning process, importance of sharing, and also a tip on how to start new projects in life!

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@otavios.s

Hey Otavio,

Thanks a ton for sharing your incredible journey.
Its really inspiring & helps me in not losing focus & not getting demotivated during our struggle.

Congratulations on your new Data endeavor.

Good Luck!
Keep up the great work!!

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