The second annual 21-Day Data Challenge kicks off on April 11th, launching three weeks of daily challenges in data analysis. You’ll work through each challenge by learning and using Python programming techniques such as data visualization, data manipulation with Pandas, and working with statistics. Each challenge is designed as an entry point into a specific concept that’s fundamental to data analysis, so you’ll end the 21DDC with a solid foundation in data skills from which to continue learning.

For the inexperienced novice, these challenges may seem a little daunting. But there’s no need to be intimidated! By approaching the challenges with confidence and an open mind you’ll zip through them like a traveler on an around-the-world adventure. Remember that there are a ton of resources to help you master data with Python, and that you’ll be completing the challenges alongside a community of learners that can support you.

We’ve put together this post to help explain what you should expect from the 21-Day Data Challenge, and how to best prepare for success. Read on to get briefed!

How the 21-Day Data Challenge Works

Over the past few years, data analysis has emerged as a hot-topic skill. In today’s rapidly digitizing world, data analysis skills are becoming useful and necessary through a wide range of professions, from journalism to human resources. To help our communities enhance their careers, Lighthouse Labs has a bootcamp and part-time courses in data analysis. But not everyone’s ready to take a full leap of faith into data science, so the 21DDC is another way to help our community members upgrade their skills, one day at a time.

To encourage more people to improve their careers through data skills, we’ve created a casual learning experience that’s fun, entertaining, and routine-forming. The 21-Day Data Challenge is tied to an engaging storyline. You’ll work through the challenges to help the protagonist, Dot, problem-solve during their around-the-world journey. Each challenge is chock full of hints, explanations, and resources that ensure that everyone who participates is supported and empowered.** To help you with completing the daily challenges, we encourage you to read up on Python and data analysis outside of the 30 minutes a day you spend on the challenges.

The best way to start learning a new skill is to practice every single day, especially one as complex as a programming language. The three weeks of the 21DDC are long enough to really get you into the Python and data analysis zone. The idea is that when you’ve completed all 21 challenges, you’ll pivot off them to continue your data journey. Though these challenges are a great starting point, they’ll only consume 30 minutes of your day for 21 days. To have a robust understanding of Python and data analysis, you should cultivate your curiosity and keep on learning beyond May 1st when the challenge ends.

Preparing for Success Before the 21DDC

If you want to conquer the 21-Day Data Challenge with more confidence in your skills, we recommend that you start learning before you tackle the challenges. Here is our free introductory course to Python. If you don’t have much experience with data analysis or Python, we advise you take this prep course before you start working on the challenges.

There are also mountains and mountains of online resources that can teach you about Python and data analysis. For some examples:

There are also tons of communities of Python users online, like [] or []. These communities can help you if you’re stuck or having trouble understanding a concept.

Maintaining Momentum Through all 21 Challenges

Once you’ve begun working through the daily challenges, you’ll want to complete all 21 days for maximum impact. And of course, the more challenges you complete, the more likely you are to win an awesome prize, like an electric bike, a gift card, or a $4000 travel voucher. To avoid burning out or wavering in your commitment, there are a few tips that’ll help you out.

Establish a Proper Study Area

This rule is an important one for any kind of education. When you’re trying to learn something from home, staying committed might be difficult at times. Home can be a distracting place, and the fact that the environment is multi-purpose can confuse your brain. Things like a cluttered room or a noisy roommate can increase your level of stress, and decrease your level of focus.

To stay attentive to your Python exercises and move smoothly through the challenges, we recommend that you set up a study nook for yourself. Dedicate some area of your home as the Python Programming Partition, and make sure it’s as organized and conducive to learning as possible.

Keep Learning Outside the Challenges

Learning for 30 minutes a day is great, and that time will familiarize you with Python and data analysis. But if you want to really kick start a routine of deep learning, you should keep learning outside of the daily challenges. To facilitate a process of deeper learning, try and lean into a sense of natural curiosity and inquisitiveness.

Every challenge will be focused on a different concept fundamental to Python and data analysis. When completing the challenges, try to go a bit deeper into the concepts. Take initiative, and go beyond the scope of what the challenge asks. If the challenge is concerned with using a certain function, try to think of it with more flexibility; what would it look like if the function were used with a different data type? Can the function be combined with the function you learned the previous day? What would that look like?

Get Involved With Other Participants and Python-Learners

One of the great things about the 21-Day Data Challenge is the collaborative and competitive nature of it. You won’t be moving through the challenges on your own. There will be tons of other people just like you, also trying their hand at Python and data analysis.

There are a couple key ways to lean into the communal aspect of the 21DDC. The first is to play as part of a team. The challenges are much more fun when you play them with others, and we encourage you to rally your friends/coworkers/neighbours/arch-enemies together to form a team of up to four people. Plus, participants who play as a team can aim towards winning the team prize: a gift card of $400 for each member.

You can also communicate with the others who are participating in the 21DDC over on the official Challenge Forum. There, you can chat with others about difficulties you’re having, share great Python resources, build a new network of data warriors and provide each other with encouragement and support.

Come introduce yourself at the Forum and meet your fellow #21DDC warriors!

This post was originally posted in January 2021 for our first 21-Day Data Challenge. It has since been udpated with more current information.