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Why Take a SQL Fundamentals Course? (Isn’t it an Old Language from the 70s?)

By Emily Wilson • October 04, 2018

Enroll in an upcoming SQL course today!

To answer our own question: yes, SQL is an old programming language developed in the 70’s. But many good (even great) and lasting technological advances came about in that same decade including, but not limited to, email, the mobile phone, and the MRI machine. SQL, which stands for Structured Query Language, has had a lasting influence on business and technology, and to this day, remains an integral part of both.

For this post, we sat down with Jonathan Balaban, a Metis Sr. Data Scientist who helped develop our Live Online SQL Fundamentals part-time course. He discusses how he and others on the team came to develop this course based on bootcamp graduate feedback, why SQL is important to know, and why it’s likely to continue standing the test of time.


Why develop a course about SQL Fundamentals? 
There are many companies out there still using SQL, even though it can be considered an older technology. It's been around since the 70s, but it’s still very much in use at big companies like Facebook and Apple and Google. Everybody anticipated that SQL was going to die and be replaced by something else. But it’s still very essential, and it’s a key component of what interviewers are looking for in candidates largely because knowing SQL allows just about anybody to go into a source of data and be able to pull exactly what they want.

Initially, our bootcamp curriculum provided about a day’s worth of SQL coverage, but over time, based on feedback from graduates who noted that during job interviews, they were expected to know a lot of SQL, we’ve expanded our teaching around it. As we started making efforts to go deeper with it, we also, as an organization, started expanding our professional development course offerings. SQL was one of the areas that absolutely made sense to develop into its own course because we knew if our bootcamp students and grads needed it, so would others.


Who should take a course like this? 
The idea here is to take an analyst, an engineer, or anyone who is somewhat technically savvy and introduce them to SQL and get them going with all the tools they need to interact with their company's data. Programming experience is helpful, but not required.


What does the course cover? 
It's an accelerated program – 12 hours total – and we start at a quick pace, but we also start with the expectation that students have had very little or no exposure to SQL. We cover the fundamentals, focused heavily on the 20% of SQL that's used in business about 80% of the time so that students get the biggest bang for their buck.

Like everything we do at Metis, the course is crafted on real-world data. We cover basic tenants like the history of SQL and where it fits into the stack. Each lesson is a mix of slide decks and real-world teaching examples along with hands-on exercises with challenges using open source data. We apply everything we learn to real data that gets a little messy and has some challenges along the way. We provide hints and tricks on how to overcome these obstacles.

(See the full curriculum in detail here.)

In the end, students will be able to create basic reports and analysis. From there, we are highly confident that the students have the foundation to be able to then teach themselves or take an advanced class later on. Once they've covered these fundamentals in our course, it accelerates, and they have the ability and the confidence to take on anything within the realm of SQL after this.

What do you enjoy about the Live Online teaching/learning experience? It’s amazing. It's like the internet – instead of going to the library to look up information, you have it at your fingertips wherever you are. So we provide this experience tailored to SQL (and other topics) so you can skill-up in any time zone no matter your individual logistical realities. You can stay at work late to take the course, or head over to a coffee shop, or take the course from your couch, etc. (We also offer weekend courses for those who have more availability then, as we understand and respect that fitting another thing into the work-week might be or seem impossible.)

What are the advantages of this type of learning? One huge advantage is the diverse background of the students. Oftentimes, our classes pull from all over the nation and beyond. In terms of the U.S., different cities have different business focuses, so we may have students in D.C. who are more government-focused or those on the west coast who are more tech-oriented, for example. The Live Online platform enables students to interact with each other and the instructors around these areas of expertise and interest.

Specifically, in terms of the SQL course, another advantage is that I've designed some exercises where you can apply certain learned techniques to your own company’s data and you can quickly share that with the other students through the platform.

For those who need to miss a live class for any reason, they’ll have access to the recording, which includes the recorded chat so they can keep track of conversations amongst classmates and instructors alike.

What would you say to anyone considering the course but still unsure? First, I’d highlight the price point, which is very attractive. All inclusive are opportunities to engage with a real instructor and teaching assistant and to get real-time support and have access to a community of people who are going through the same experience.

Additionally, the curriculum is fully crafted – it’s not a re-canning of something else that you'll find online from some other website. Everything has been streamlined specifically for the current needs of students as we see them, and we have a lot of insight into that as an organization because we've interacted with thousands of students over the years who are working in data science.

Lastly, this course is both pretty quick and pretty cost effective. I’ve witnessed some students who take this or another part-time course and then realize they’re also interested in the larger bootcamp experience. If you’re someone who might consider the bootcamp, this is a great way to get to know us a bit better with low financial risk and the bonus of learning something new along the way.

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Learn more about the SQL Fundamentals course here. The next iteration kicks off on December 3rd.

Additionally, you can visit here to learn about our other part-time course offerings and here for more information about the full-time data science bootcamp.


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