EXPLORE Data Science Academy implements critical Thrive soft skills module to boost success
By: Explore Data Science Academy
Dubbed appropriately as "Thrive", the EDSA programme is presented by qualified life coaches Nuri Barnard and Megan Hillburn.
Barnard explains, "We consider it to be an essential part of job readiness, particularly for young graduates."
Hilburn paints a portrait of a typical student. "We are bowled over by their off-scale intelligence, great hearts, tenacity and willpower. But many come from disadvantaged, impoverished backgrounds, some from child-headed households, and are unprepared for a post matric student environment. They have potential galore but often struggle to integrate and cope. Students even ask themselves, 'why am I here?' We call this the 'Imposter Syndrome.' "
The Thrive programme consists of a series of modules. "We teach subjects such as self-mastery, motivation, financial management, communication, social and work etiquette, personal and professional development and other skills. The course is compulsory for all our full time students and we track their performance and progress during the year. There are no exams or grades as such, but successful completion of the modules is required to graduate," Barnard adds.
Teamwork is critical and central to Thrive. Megan explains, "In the work environment, data scientists work in teams and at EDSA we teach students to learn from one another and work together on projects. It's a steady process as students begin to realise that they have the ability to succeed in this strange new world. Our top students regularly report that they learn as much from the people around them as from the coaches. One graduate put it like this: it was like a light switch being turned on."
EDSA also offers data science students the opportunity to study online. "This is obviously not the same as being on a campus, but we offer a modified version of the course online and remote students can interact with coaches when they need us," Hilburn says.
Thrive is not just a nice-to-have. It contributes substantially to the success of the EXPLORE Data Science programme itself. Over 90 percent of its graduates find employment within three months of having completed the course, at above average starting salaries.
"South Africa has a massive pool of talented young people. At EDSA we have proved that. But, alongside technical skills, we need to produce fully rounded graduates that can make their mark in life as well as at work," she concludes.
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