Long story short --
I have a PhD in computational geoscience and worked as a geophysicist in Houston for five years. I joined NYCDSA for the 12-week bootcamp, and worked as hard as I could. I was hired after my first interview, with an offer in hand within two weeks post graduation. NYCDSA has helped me achieve this smooth transition into a brand new field in just 3.5 months.
How I made the decision to join --
1) The time commitment is right: I was willing to put in a few months of my time through well-designed highly-intensive training, rather than spending a year or so to learn on my own. I do not want to go through a one-to-two-year data science master's program, considering a) I have a computational PhD degree, and b) although many data science theories have been long established, data science platforms and tools are evolving fast.
2) Word-of-Mouth: I have friends in New York working in the data domain recommending this academy over other data science training offerings. "richer content", "up-to-date material", "good instructors" are among the key words that I recall.
3) A balanced focus on teaching and job service: I have interviewed with a few different data science bootcamps. Many of them gave me a feeling that they want me to be 90% ready for a data scientist role coming in, and they are only willing to do the 10% polishing to get me "sold". NYCDSA convinced me with their road map that they will first focus on teaching the content that they are proud of, then switch gear near the end to the job search part. They shared their online pre-work content with me, so I could get ready. I was impressed by the quality of the recorded lectures and coding platform, which further boosted my faith in the academy.
Experience at the bootcamp --
1) The content
The teaching material is well developed and feels fresh. They keep polishing the core content and introduce many newly developed "jump start" sessions along the way. You are well informed about what's new out there while learning all the fundamentals.
2) The instructors
They have a stable teaching team here. Unlike many other camps which keep losing instructors and hiring recently graduated trainees as instructors, NYCDSA has a stable team. The majority of them started working here from years ago when the 12-week bootcamp was initiated.
They are a knowledgeable, friendly and hardworking group of people, with finance, math, computer science, physics background. When they are not teaching, they either help the students or work together on their side projects. It is smooth to learn from people you respect and admire.
3) The fellow campers
A vast majority of the students here have or are working on a graduate STEM degree, with a solid quantitative background. Many also bring in years of experience from finance, health care, software engineering, marketing or other fields. What they all share is a strong will to perform and succeed in data science.
I feel honored to have worked with a few of them on the group projects. We helped each other not just during the bootcamp, but also during the job search period. I am convinced that it is a great professional and personal network to be in, for the long future after our time at the academy.
4) The career service
NYCDSA organizes hiring events for each cohort. You will see quite a few Fortune 500 companies coming to the event, as well as promising start-ups. The NYSDSA career team verify the job vacancies, collect details about the hiring teams, and prepare cohort members individually for a successful outcome (resume, LinkedIn, GitHub, blog posts, interview skills, and many other aspects.) They also utilize their own personal network to get interview opportunities when they see a great match.
They keep supporting and motivating the students during the course of job search. There are rooms set aside for graduates to come back to and work on things. Here you get daily check-in's from the instructing team and helpful discussion with fellow cohort members. I have been enjoying this cozy and welcoming space often, and plan to keep gaining knowledge and energy from this ideally located data science hub.
Advice for future students --
1) Complete the pre-work, have an initial plan for the projects coming in.
2) Work hard during the bootcamp, be curious and independent. Treat it as a 3-month internship.
3) Plan to jump right into job hunting effort right after.
4) When working with wonderful teammates, make sure to deliver your parts; after achieving your goals, remind yourself that you have been kindly helped along the way.
Closing comments --
It has been a great investment. With the guidance, help, and support from NYCDSA, my job preparation and search time frame has been shortened by at least 3-6 months. For people with solid STEM background and strong desire to work in Data Science, this bootcamp should be a challenging and rewarding journey. I would continue to cherish the relationship I have built with my mentors and friends met during Cohort 9 at the academy. I wish them well.