Get your hands dirty to learn.
The first concrete step that I took in my data science journey was registering to an online certificate. It was going smooth and easy. I was just following through and learning the basics. After some time, I started to think that it was easy to be a data scientist. I would just get a few of these certificates and start looking for jobs. I did collect those certificates in no time. Then guess what?
Welcome to the real world!
Certificates are good at teaching you the basics. They get you familiar with the field of data science. However, they are definitely not a game changer.
It is worth noting that I’m talking about the certificates received by completing MOOC courses. The ones that require you to pass a comprehensive exam like AWS certificates are on some other page.
Going back to our discussion, I have listed my 5 reasons why you should work on projects rather than collecting numerous certificates.
Certificates do not challenge the learners. If you pay attention to the lectures and read through the materials, you can easily pass the graded exams. They don’t push you hard enough to actually make you absorb the topics. If you don’t think hard enough and push yourself, the information will stay in the short-term memory and be forgotten.
As stated in this article by Nick Dam, “changes in neural connections, which are fundamental for learning to take place in the brain, do not seem to occur when learning experiences are not active. Many research studies suggest that active engagement is a prerequisite for changes in the brain. Not surprisingly, just listening to a presentation or lecture will not lead to learning.”
Most of the time is spent on listening to lectures in MOOC courses. On the other hand, doing projects is a great example for active learning. They challenge you to actively engage in the entire process.