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Data Innovation Bootcamps

By Craig, third-year Computer Science student

Join Craig, a third-year student at Newcastle University, as he shares his transformative experience participating in the Data Innovation Bootcamps offered by the National Innovation Centre for Data.

Hi, I’m Craig. I’m in my third year at Newcastle University studying Computer Science. I’m NICD_Secondary Logo_Square_Blackwriting this blog to share my experiences of participating in the Data Innovation Bootcamps, offered through the National Innovation Centre for Data.

I participated in a two-week summer Bootcamp in 2023. During my studies, I became extremely interested in Data Science and I signed up to the Bootcamp as I wanted to explore how it could be applied in real-world business scenarios.


Craig Lilley, Newcastle University third-year student in Computer Science

Initially, I thought the Bootcamp would be extremely data-heavy with a focus on the technical aspects of data science. Although it was slightly different to my expectations, fully immersing myself in the experience has provided me with great additions to my CV and relevant interview examples, helping me expand my future career path and opportunities. I was hoping the Bootcamp would give me some practical experience working with a client and help me understand the improvements I could make to a business through interpreting and managing their data.

Bootcamp experience

We began the two-week summer Bootcamp by first meeting the client and having their problem explained to us. In teams, we were then able to ask them further questions to gain a deeper understanding of the problem and how we could help achieve the business’ intended outcomes and goals.

For the rest of the two weeks, we worked in groups to develop a minimum viable product for the client through utilising and analysing their data.

The main skill I learned from the Bootcamp was the idea of producing this minimum viable product and being able to demonstrate real value for them to meet their longer-term goals and objectives.

An example of the challenges I faced on the Bootcamp was that the data which was provided had some issues, such as:

  • missing data and,
  • not having a lot of context to the variables.

I was able to overcome this by completing some extra work in my own time, where I collected more usable data which allowed me to supply the client with some actual added value to their business.


Barry Hodgson, Director of Strategy at the National Innovation Centre for Data.

The benefits

I found working with a real business to be extremely rewarding as before this I had only worked on clean, designed datasets. This opportunity gave me an insight into the real world of data science and the genuine issues which many are faced with daily. I found the idea of addressing a client’s actual business issue extremely interesting, as it encouraged me to focus my data exploration and investigation more specifically. Working on this project allowed me to improve my collaboration and communication skills as I had to find a way to tackle the data which was available and use it to supply value to the client.

Networking and collaboration

I found working with students from other subjects valuable. It pushed me to work on my ability to accurately communicate technical aspects of data exploration in a way that someone without a technical background could understand. This is an invaluable skill to have developed as, in the workplace, not everyone will have the same knowledge and skill set. Being able to communicate technical subjects to non-technical colleagues will be essential in my future career.

During the Bootcamp I was also able to network and build a relationship with the business I was assigned to. This opportunity led to me securing a part-time position with Seascape Surveillance. It gave me the ability to prove to them the value and impact I could bring to the business due to my new-found knowledge and understanding of their problems and the data which they needed to further their business goals.


David Baillie, Founder of Seascape Surveillance.

On-the-job transition

The Bootcamp prepared me for some of the challenges and tasks which I have faced in the workplace so far. Having worked on Seascape Surveillance’s task, it gave me a good understanding of the data which the business requires to solve their problem and meet their objectives. As I had already experienced searching for this exact type of data during the Bootcamp, it made my on-the-job transition much more seamless.

Reflections on the overall journey

Without a doubt, the Bootcamp has influenced my career path. It allowed me to network with the business at which I secured a part-time position with while I complete my degree. It gave me real-world experience which I was able to reference in a recent interview and I have now successfully secured a place on an extremely competitive graduate scheme.

I couldn’t recommend the Bootcamp enough. It gave me invaluable real-world experience and even though it was not initially what I expected, I found it extremely rewarding.

Closing thoughts

My future career aspirations are to complete my two-year graduate scheme and then continue to learn and improve both my technical and soft skills.

Both the Bootcamp and the position which I was able to secure on the back of that opportunity, have both allowed me to improve my soft skills and solve problems and issues, which I would not have otherwise had the chance to experience.

For students looking to follow a similar path, I would say ‘Go for it!.’ While you’re at uni, get involved in the Bootcamps and as many opportunities which are offered to you to fully take advantage of university life. I was offered the position at Seascape Surveillance because I was able to make myself stand out to them through showing and executing willingness to go beyond the outlined scope. 


Craig Lilley receiving his certificate on successful completion of the 2023 Data Insights Bootcamp.

Watch the YouTube video to learn more about the Data Innovation Bootcamps