Advice for My Dataviz Students

Parting thoughts as they embark on their careers.

Introduction

I just put a bow on my first semester teaching a seven-week dataviz course. To be sure, students learned the basics by hopefully reading Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic’s text Storytelling with Data: A Data Visualization Guide for Business Professionals.

Get Active on Tableau Public

This one is a no-brainer. You can spend hours on Tableau Public viewing interesting data visualizations and, even better, learning advanced techniques from rock stars such as my friend Ken Flerage. Still, they should do more. By creating their own informative and interactive charts and graphs, they can brand themselves as skilled dataviz professionals. What better way to show prospective employers your chops than point them to your online portfolio?

Keep an Eye Out for Future Tableau Improvements

Next year’s version ships with some insane improvements, including viz animations.

As I tell my students, their learning has only just begun. Tableau’s future is exciting and I can’t wait to see what I’ll be able to do next.

Resist the Urge to Default to Excel

Excel serves as an invaluable program in the business world. It’s essential to remember, though, that with more than 1.2 billion users, it doesn’t differentiate any applicant today. Put differently, it’s the ultimate hygiene factor.

Proficiency with Excel doesn’t differentiate applicants today.

Think about it. Consider two identical candidates with respect to GPA, work experience, and personal skills. Candidate #1 is a Tableau beast while #2 used it a few years ago and hasn’t kept up. Which one would you hire?

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