How I Landed My First Job in Analytics with No Experience

How I Landed My First Job in Analytics with No Experience
Photo by Carolyn Christine/ Unsplash

As my very first blog, I will christen my website by sharing how I landed my first job in analytics. I’ll share some of the thoughts and feelings I had and what I did to secure that analytics role.

My first analytics position was as a Salesforce Analyst. I was at the ripe age of 35 when it happened. It took two years to turn that dream into reality.
I'd read that it is estimated that most people will have 12 jobs during their lives. By the age of 33, I was in my 11th job and had 3 career changes. Needless to say, a career change wasn't foreign to me, but it still wasn't easy to do it again.

Even though I wasn't exactly happy with my position, I was hesitant to leave. I was concerned about what people thought of me, I didn't want to be permanently labelled as a serial career shifter, nor did I want it reflected in my CV. After 3 career changes, I had serious doubts about whether I would ever find a role that I enjoy. I had numerous fears: fear of failing, fear that I'm not good or smart enough, fear of losing the progress I've made, fear of leaving something I'm familiar with, fear that I'll be financially worst off etc. These fears held me back. I grew more and more unhappy as each day passed with inaction. The negative emotion festered until, eventually, it reached an unbearable point, I had to do something.

These were the steps I took to address my fears:

  • acknowledged and recognized that fear is normal and will always be around
  • explored all the worries I had and assessed each one objectively
  • assessed the risk involved and answered honestly whether these risks were acceptable, if not I thought about what I could do to mitigate or reduce the risk
  • researched analytics and spoke to people already in the position to confirm whether analytics is the right path for me
  • figured out what resonated with my inner self, and what I'm naturally good at and gathered what people thought I'm good at.

Doing the above helped placate my fears and gave me the needed clarity that analytics is the path I want to pursue.

With that sorted, I decided I'll tap into my unfair advantage to secure my first role in analytics. I was already working for a global firm, and I knew from past experience that making a lateral move internally is much easier than doing it externally. People already know me, and I'm already familiar with the company.

I didn't immediately express to my then manager that I wanted to shift career. I waited for about 1.5 years before I disclosed my interest. This was because I'd only been in a new role for about 6 months. I didn't sit idle during that time though. From reviewing LinkedIn job descriptions of similar positions, I knew I must become proficient at Excel and gain some working knowledge of database and SQL joins.

During that year, I took many MOOC in Excel and watched countless YouTube videos on it as well. I know learning through watching isn't enough for retention, so I applied what I learned at work so that not only did my then team benefit from my work but it also helped consolidated my learning.

I created a sophisticated payment application in Excel that draws on the concept of a database to feed the frontend sheets users interacted with. This project took me six months from conception to finish. It allowed me to learn complex and advanced functions and features in Excel. At the time, I had no idea I adopted just-in-time learning, it's such an effective and powerful approach to learning. If you're trying to learn something new, give this approach a go.

Financial modelling was another project I worked on. At the time I was studying an Applied Finance postgraduate course. For one of my assignments, I created a couple of models on two ASX listed companies. I had no idea how to create a model, but thanks to Financial Modeling in Excel for Dummies by Danielle Stein Fairhurst, I managed to score myself a high distinction for that assignment.

I was finally ready to disclose to my then manager my intention. She was supportive of my decision. She organized a secondment and things happened very quickly. During the secondment, the position I desired became vacant. As cliched as it sounds, all stars were aligned, I applied and I got the role.

In my opinion, I think the secondment increased my odds of success immensely. It gave me additional opportunities to prove to the hiring manager that I have what it takes to succeed in the role and I was a good fit for her team.

That is how I got my first role without any experience. If you're feeling stuck and thinking about a career change, don't ignore what you're feeling, don't settle out of fear, punch fear in the face and take action. Work on turning your dream into reality. If I can do it, so can you.