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Fun With Data

Crawl, Walk, Run: Types of Projects for Every Phase of Your Data Journey

3 min readView all articles
By Dakota Brown
Nov 9, 2023

Trying to decide on your next data project? You’ve come to the right place!

Whether you’re just getting started with data analytics or are just in need of a project to keep your skills sharp, here are a few different types of projects to meet you where you’re at on your career path:

Crawl: Guided Projects

Guided projects are a great addition to any data portfolio. With guided projects, there are options available for every skill level, so whether you’re attempting your first project ever, or are at an advanced stage of your learning journey, there’s something for everyone.

Some other benefits of guided projects include:

  • Step-by-step support as you work through the project
  • Real-world project simulation for specific occupational use cases
  • Reinforce foundational knowledge through hands-on practice and repetition
  • Easy to pick up and put down, so you can progress at your own pace in your own time

Guided projects are a great way to build confidence in your own abilities as they would actually be used in a professional setting.


Walk: Free Online Datasets and Challenges

Another great addition to your project portfolio? Utilizing one of the many datasets available online for free, or joining in a public data challenge!

If you’re not quite ready to build a project from scratch and/or are looking for an opportunity to learn from the work of your peers, public datasets are exactly what you’re looking for.

Here are some benefits to this approach:

  • FREE is always nice! As well as our Data Playground, you can find free datasets on sites like Kaggle and Data.world
  • An opportunity for even more practice – this time, without the step-by-step support found in guided projects
  • Flexibility for creativity and showcasing personal intuitive insights
  • A built-in community where you can take inspiration from the work of your peers as well as inspire others with your own

If you’re interested in this approach, then joining an ongoing data challenge has even MORE benefits!

For one, you get to gamify your work – the competitive element can make the work even more fun, and there’s a chance at an actual external reward.

One important differentiation with a challenge entry is that, unlike guided projects or a standard public dataset, a data challenge will also force you to work on your time management skills due to the submission deadline. This is a great way to prepare for what it might be like to be given a work assignment!


Run: Passion Projects and Self-Collected Data

If you’re really looking for a challenge? Try building a project completely from scratch!

Passion projects and datasets that you find in your own environment can be a great addition to your portfolio. It gives you an opportunity to showcase who you are as a person as well as a professional!

Some distinct benefits to this type of project:

  • From start to finish, the project is entirely your own; from data cleaning to final presentation. (And sometimes even the data collection!)
  • You have complete freedom of choice in your topic, and it can be relevant to your own interests and/or career niche
  • Stands out from your peers, in that the project is entirely unique to you

Opportunities for this kind of project are everywhere and could come from volunteering with a local nonprofit or even taking stock of your personal inventory of baseball cards.


Wrapping Up

No matter where you’re at in your data journey, the opportunities for new projects are endless! And remember: it doesn’t have to be perfect every single time.

When you dig into a project, the important thing is that you’re doing the practice to build that muscle memory, growing your skills, and absorbing what you’ve learned. The more you practice, the easier it will be!

We hope this article helped you find a direction for your next project!

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Dakota Brown

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