Frequently Asked Questions
Our 3-month intensive data science training program.
We will refer to it as the Retreat or DSR indistinctly.
You will need to pass the Interview in order to get accepted. This Interview is a challenge for most people, so come prepared.
A Batch of students
Batch refers to each group of participants.
You will spend at least half of the time figuring out and implementing a real data product. It will be a personal project and it will drive what and how you learn. By the end of the Retreat, you will have a refined product in your hands, which has been presented to different audiences.
We host Demo Day at the end of the Retreat. You will be presenting your Portfolio Project along with your batch. Several companies on the hunt for data scientists will be present.
# Before the Retreat
IS DATA SCIENCE RETREAT FOR ME?
Data Science Retreat is for people with previous work experience and basic knowledge of machine learning.
Programming knowledge is a requisite.
You will be required to work on your communication skills.
The Retreat is intensive.
You can calculate the Return on Investment easily. We like it when people do their own research :)
ARE THERE ANY REASONS FOR ME NOT TO DO DSR?
Don't apply for DSR if you have:
- No time (when we say intensive, we mean it)
- No skills (at this point!)
- No willpower (this is hard work)
- No commitment to improve yourself
If you're thinking about how to pay for the Retreat, we have partnered with Future Finance, which can provide financial coverage to candidates that pass the Interview. This is no longer a showstopper.
It could be the case that you are not at the right time in your life (emotionally). Many of these things you have to determine for yourself. The rest we will figure out during the Interview :)
Please don't be disappointed if we don't offer you an interview slot when you apply, or if you do but get a 'not now' from us.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE ENOUGH PROGRAMMING SKILL TO PASS THE INTERVIEW?
You need to be confident enough with programming to know that you can implement what you need in a reasonable time.
If you have zero experience as a programmer you won't pass the Interview. Learning to program at the same time you try to absorb our material will most likely overwhelm you.
Our graduates need to be able to pull together a dataset, clean it up and analyze it. Most machine learning algorithms do vector and matrix multiplications, so it will definitely help to be comfortable with a matrix-oriented programming language (R or Python + Scipy), but it's not strictly necessary. You will be more than proficient in Python after the Retreat.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE ENOUGH MACHINE LEARNING SKILL TO PASS THE INTERVIEW?
How much is enough? If you have applied machine learning in a previous job with success, you are probably ready. If you have done a bunch of MOOCs, read a bunch of books and blog posts, and can communicate well, you are probably ready. We can't go much further without disclosing questions from the Interview.
I'M NOT SURE IF MY SKILLS ARE AT A LEVEL WHERE I CAN DO PROFESSIONAL DATA SCIENCE WORK. HOW WOULD I KNOW IF I'M READY FOR THE MARKET, OR WILL BE AFTER DSR?
After the Interview, we'll have a pretty good idea of where you stand. If you lack a skill that we don't think can be acquired in the time we have, we'll tell you outright.
I HAVE TAKEN A BUNCH OF CLASSES AT COURSERA, EDX AND DATACAMP. WILL I BENEFIT FROM DSR?
Many candidates have taken courses from online providers such as Coursera and EdX, or booked onsite classes at some providers promising an introduction to data science. Much of the material offered out there is perfectly fine. Our courses and method are much more advanced and demanding.
DOES DSR OFFER FINANCING?
Yes, Future Finance can offer you financing once you are accepted into DSR. Here are the details.
WHEN SHOULD I PAY FULL TUITION?
Full tuition is a hefty amount by all standards for a private person – EUR 10,000.
This is to be seen as an investment. The salary difference between your job before and after DSR should more than make up for its cost.
I'M NOT A STUDENT ANYMORE. IS DSR FOR ME?
DSR is not for students. In fact, many candidates have been in the industry for years. Many also have PhDs. A student in batch 09 worked at a top consultancy firm. Another is a very senior quant. Another one has 8 years experience in investment banking. There are some people who are freshly graduated from universities, often Ivy League.
'DATA SCIENCE IS A TEAM SPORT'. WHY DO YOU PREPARE PEOPLE AS IF THEY WERE TO BE ALONE?
This is a myth. If you take a look at the companies you will work for, you'll see that the ones with a standing team of data scientists are the exception. Very likely you will be the first data scientist at the company and you will have to lead them to modern practices.
This is why we train people to be the Lead Data Scientist.
You'll find a different case at Google or Facebook. The majority of the companies out there, however, are in very early days as related to data science.
That doesn't mean being a team player won't help. You will probably work in one, and may even lead it.
# The Retreat
How does the Retreat work? How will I BE spending my time?
During the first weeks of the program, about 90% of your in-class hours are instructional. This means we are actually giving lecture material and guidance, rather than just giving you space to learn the material on your own. Having said that, we prefer to stay away from a 'lecture' setup where the student is passive.
In the second month, the instructional part goes down to about 60%, the rest of the time you are working (supervised) on your Portfolio Project.
Starting from the third month, there will be advanced classes, but you will mostly work on your Portfolio Project and on your presentation for Demo Day.
THE PORTFOLIO PROJECT: HOW MUCH TIME WILL I NEED TO PUT INTO IT?
At least half of your time should be spent thinking about and working on your Portfolio Project.
MENTORS AND TEACHERS: What's the DIFFERENce?
Teachers host classes and prepare their own materials. Mentors advise participants on portfolio projects, career choices, and interview preparation.
The distinction was not so clear in the past, as all mentors taught. This means that the material has been refined and become battle-tested.
As a student, you will get plenty of time with mentors but you have to put in the effort. They will be happy to hear from you as long as you actively work on your questions. In turn, you will benefit from their unique skills.
Other bootcamps display a week-by-week curriculum. Where is yours?
DSR is not a bootcamp, but a retreat at the cutting edge preparing you to be a lead data scientist and excel at customer-facing implementation (i.e. Portfolio Project and Demo Day). We frequently update and change courses. For example, DSR used to teach R, but as data science and machine learning have evolved, we focus much less on R, and it is no longer a core course. Hence we have no fixed week-by-week curriculum, but a set of core courses, masterclasses, and on demand courses that are tailored to each batch and the moving front of data science.
DO I GET ASSIGNED A MENTOR?
Mentorship is not 1-on-1 like in PhD programs for example. Everyone talks to different mentors. Picking the right mentor for the problem you are having is a skill, like any other.
HOW WELL CAN YOU TEACH? INDUSTRY EXPERIENCE DOESN'T CORRELATE TO THE ABILITY TO TEACH WHAT YOU KNOW.
You will improve at a speed directly proportional to your ability to extract wisdom from our mentors. There's no passive lecture where the personality of the instructor is crucial. The better question is How good are you at learning?
In the Interview we will look for evidence of mastery at self-teaching.
I have zero social skills BUT I'M A MATH WIZard. Am I in?
A big factor in Data Science is communication. You will be required to present your ideas in a convincing manner, time and time again. We train you for this at DSR, but a bare minimum is essential. Keep it in mind.
Will I do PAIR PROGRAMMING?
You will do as much as you can take. Pairing with our experts is the best path to mastery.
This is exactly what makes us different from any MOOC, online course or mere bootcamp.
Practical details are hard to communicate away from face-to-face interaction. The mentor-learner relationship is very special. Apprenticeships work where other forms of instruction fail, more so when you learn a craft. And data science is!
HOW IS A DSR PORTFOLIO PROJECT COMPARED TO THE CAPSTONE PROJECT FROM MOOCS?
The capstone project we've seen from MOOCs only walks half the path: you will be given the question to work on and the data, and all participants will work on the same set of problems. This is not at all what people do here. You need to practice your creativity with data, find your question, and build a data product.
Every batch produces solid data products, ideas that could evolve into companies. Here are some examples:
- An app that will tell you how many calories food has by taking a picture
- A wearable that alerts a patient about to have an epileptic seizure
- An algorithm to predict the fluctuations of the market
- A model to predict workers changing jobs
As you can see, you will be surrounded by inspiring people and will benefit from that.
# After the Retreat
HOW EXACTLY WILL YOU HELP ME FIND A JOB AFTERWARDS?
There will be a Demo Day at the end of the Retreat. Several companies on the hunt for data scientists will be present.
We have a hiring program in place; we actively contact companies on your behalf before, during and after the Retreat. We keep you on our network for at least 3 months after you completed DSR; if a company is looking for someone with your profile, we'll make the connection.
We train you in skills we believe will make you a well-rounded candidate that will pass an interview with confidence.
We have dedicated staff to keep the hiring ratio as close to 100% as possible.
WHAT ARE THE CHANCES I WILL GET A JOB AFTER DSR?
100% of our participants have had multiple job interviews with our hiring partners. Of that number, 60% received multiple job offers, and 86% got the job they wanted out of the program.
We update this numbers based on the number of students who obtain roles within 6 months.
WHAT HAPPENS IF NONE OF THE COMPANIES WHO COME TO Demo DAY HIRES ME AFTER THE COURSE IS OVER?
We will keep making introductions so will you meet as many potential employers as possible. We cannot directly warrant employment, but it is safe to assume that you would be in a good position, as a desirable candidate for companies that are not part of our portfolio.
Data Science is very much a meritocracy. Many prominent Data Scientists are purely self-taught. As opposed to other industries, there is no sentiment that a self-taught professional is inadequate. If you can work with data, provide value and communicate it, you are set to go. This is why DSR's focus is on the Portfolio Project. And it doesn't hurt that statistics show a huge gap between demand and supply.
WHAT CAN I EXPECT FROM THE COMPANIES COMING TO demo day?
Your success is our brand. The more people who get a job, the better for Data Science Retreat.
However, we cannot warrant that you will get a job. We will put you in front of companies willing to hire a data scientist. The Courses have been put together carefully and several companies were involved in the process. We will prepare you to deal with those companies.
It's not such a good idea to jump into the first position you're offered right after the Retreat. You'll be exhausted and you won't have had the time to absorb and process all the information. There is no pressure. Internalizing what you just learned should be your main concern, as opposed to focusing on 'looking good' for the attending companies.
WHAT ARE THE MAIN DIFFERENCES IN THE JOB MARKET COMPARING USA AND THE EU?
It's harder to fire people in the EU, as compared with the US. That means companies are very careful hiring, and the hiring process can take longer than expected. Don't expect people to shake your hand and hire you right after your presentation at Demo Day. You will continue having interviews and some will be quite challenging. Do not expect that because Data Science is sexy you are going to land a job without putting in the effort.
WHAT IS THE EXPECTED SALARY OF A DATA SCIENTIST IN EU?
There's no easy answer to this question. Different cities have different expected salaries. For instance, London pays better than Berlin, but the cost of living is much higher. How good you are as a data scientist and as a negotiator will make a big difference. If you already have serious industry experience, you might find placement sooner and at a higher salary than the rest of your cohort. If your CV looks like you just changed roles it will be harder to make your case.
# About Berlin
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE BERLIN TO RUN DATA SCIENCE RETREAT?
- Berlin has a vibrant tech scene.
- There are tech meetups happening almost every day, and attendance is often in the hundreds.
- Berlin has top universities with good machine learning programs.
- Berlin has more startups than any other European city.
- Some are already hiring big-data engineers and data scientists at a pace that is hard to sustain.
- Berlin is cheaper than most European capitals.
- Large companies have headquarters in Berlin, such as Google, Amazon or Microsoft.
DO I NEED TO SPEAK GERMAN?
Many people speak English in Berlin, and this is a norm in the professional world. You can get by for years without speaking German.
That being said, German is a hard language to learn but doors will open for you if you decide to take up the challenge.
HOW about HOUSING IN BERLIN?
DO YOU PROVIDE HELP WITH THIS?
Housing is cheap! It's easy to find rooms in a shared apartment for $500 (EUR 450); and a studio or small flat for $726 (EUR 658/mo).
There are many resources but you should try the woloho.com newsletter, Craigslist Berlin, WG Gesucht, and/or Immobilienscout. Another great resource is Toytown Germany (forum for expats). You can also try AirBnB for temporary housing while you look for something permanent.
I'M COMING ON A 90-DAY VISA. CAN I FUrTHER MY STAY IN GERMANY TO INTERVIEW FOR JOBS?
If you are a EU citizen or resident, you can skip this topic.
Coming to Berlin on a Schengen visa is relatively easy for citizens of most countries. This would allow you to spend 90 out of 180 days in Schengen territory, which is enough time to complete our program and participate in Demo Day. Anything further than that, like staying to look for a job, depends on your individual situation. You may need to consult an immigration attorney. We will do what we can to help. Here is what we understand:
§41 Abs 1 of the AufenthV makes it possible for citizens of Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, South Korea, New Zealand, and the USA to apply for residence and work permits (Aufenhaltstitel) at their local Ausländerbehörde within 90 days of arrival. Participants from these countries have been able to extend their stay while interviewing, and then later get a work visa once they found an employer to sponsor them.
It is possible for citizens of other countries to get long-stay visas (> 90 days) for training or job-seeking in Germany. This may not be straightforward, and can take 8-12 weeks.
CAN I WORK FOR ONE OF YOUR PARTNER COMPANIES IF I DON'T HAVE AN EU PASSPORT?
We cannot sponsor work visas. But our partner companies might.
Our experience is that if you are from North America or any other 1st world country, it doesn't take much to get a visa so you can work here, and it gets easier if you are highly educated.