Well, I've done it. I've started a 12 week Data Science bootcamp at Metis. The most difficult transition in this first week has been the requirement of unmasking my weaknesses to the rest of the class and instructors. Prior to this week I had gotten quite comfortable sitting in my home office, banging my head against the wall and aggressively asking Google for answers. Google doesn't judge when I can't remember the correct syntax for selecting a column in pandas. But sitting in class, solving problems with others exposes exactly what I don't know to a group of people that I don't know, about a subject that I don't know enough about. So, at least we got that out of the way quickly.
How I got here
Many years ago I worked for a gaming company and was eventually in charge of the internal game production teams - 3 teams in total which each consisted of designers, developers, QA, and producers. The leadership of the company was looking for ways to expand the business and decided to investigate micro-transactions. At the time this was cutting edge - users were just starting to drop small amounts of money ($1 or less) on dressing up their avatar or gaining special tools for a game. Some companies were making loads of money this way and so company leadership thought this a great avenue to explore.
Since my role was to oversee how internal teams focused time and resources, I was tasked with making a business model for this new direction. I was invited into the office of the CEO and given direction for how the business model should look - and what sort of potential a successful game could provide our organization. So I went home and bought a book about writing a business plan. I researched various success scenarios and made up some potential revenue models. I went back and showed it to the CEO. He didn't think the model showed enough of the potential upside. My opinion was that the upside was extremely unlikely and the downside was incredibly costly. I decided to show three models in the end - great success, moderate success, and failure. The failure case was basically catastrophic for the company - and I had the sense that it was the most likely. This particular project had a longer than average timeline, larger scope, much higher production costs. Failure was likely because developing a new "hit" game is incredibly difficult and our company had failed many times at predicting a game would be a hit that ended up failing. Creative projects are fickle and subjective; appealing to a massive audience takes iterations, time, and investment. Much of which our fast-paced work environment didn't allow for.
I left the company shortly after my business plan experience. I felt bullied and cornered into producing a document that would support a direction that I didn't agree with. There were other factors that contributed to me leaving but this was certainly a big part of it. And it stuck with me. For what it's worth they didn't pursue the micro-transactions for this particular project and scaled down the scope quite a bit. I'm not sure how they made that decision. But I've always wanted to redo that business plan with correct predictions, real market research, and have the gall to present it even though it wasn't what they wanted.
I realize this particular example is small relative to the expansive reach of data science overall but it was a turning point for me. I don't want to spend my time scratching the surface, I want to get my hands dirty, to dig deep. I want to find the best truth that I can with the tools and information available.
The next several years after leaving my job were a combination of mothering and exploring various career paths. I went back to work a couple of times in a part-time capacity and found it dissatisfying. In the end I found data science a good match for me because I've always wanted to dive deeper into coding, I've missed math, and love giving a clean answer to a messy question. I liked Metis because I wanted quick progress and support with job placement.
Pursuit of creativity
A major goal that I have for my time at Metis is to improve on my ability to ask the right questions, to communicate more visually and to reach into the unknown. I often claim that I am not creative. I don't think this is entirely true however. I am simply not in touch with my creativity and I squash creative expression before it makes it out of my subconscious and onto the floor. I believe this is self preservation. I don't like failing. It is uncomfortable, vulnerable and overall a feeling that should be avoided. The problem is that failure is a necessity if I want to grow and I want to grow. So, for week 2 at Metis I make a promise to try something risky, to allow myself to fail and to ask for help.
I'll let you know how that goes.
Only 58 days left - not that I'm counting.