How to Prepare for a Data Science Immersive Course

“How do you eat an elephant?”

Break it down

1. Assess your situation

2. Create a plan

3. Implement the plan

Simple, right?

Assess your Situation

What do I need to know?

If you’ve decided on or enrolled in a course the syllabus is a great place to start. If not, this post by Taesun Yoo is a good place to start. What are the main areas of focus? Programming in python, data analysis using pandas and machine learning with scikit-learn are usually first on the list of topics. Make two list:

  1. Topics that you plan to learn throughout your course.
  2. Topics that you want to explore and familiarize yourself with before the course.

Create a plan


Identify the basics. This is admittedly debatable. For me:

  1. Basic Python
  2. Data Analysis with Pandas
  3. Statistics
  4. Linear algebra


At this time, I whittled down my preparation list to a few topics: python, pandas, statistics, linear algebra, supervised machine learning, unsupervised machine learning, natural language processing and neural nets.


Udemy has great courses on python. Codecademy has a wonderful data science “career path” option that dives deep into python and SQL and has a high-level overview of machine learning and beyond. Kahn Academy is a great resource to brush up on statistics, calculus and linear algebra. Grant Sanderson’s YouTube channel, 3Blue1Brown offers a stunning and insightful series: “Essence of Linear Algebra”.

Implement the plan


Schedule your day. Decide how much time are you going to spend on preparation and segment accordingly. I decided on 4-5 hours per day (split into 2 sessions) for about 6 weeks.


You may notice you need more or less time on a given subject after deciding on a specific timeframe. Adaptation is crucial. Personally, I needed more time understanding the concepts of linear algebra. I decided to spent 30 minutes every morning for two weeks attacking my problem area. Try to adjust your plan rather than abandon and start from scratch.


Table it. Take a break. Get after it.

  • Start Small
  • Start Now
  • Be consistent
  • Adapt



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Alex Fioto

Alex Fioto


Data scientist and classical musician based in Raleigh, NC.