Meet Kimberley Heath. Kimberley has been active through BTG and LinkedIn and making great strides in building a new career as a business analyst. Her persistence, dedication, and positive attitude serve as an inspiration to us all.
I am excited to share one small step on her exciting career journey — finding a volunteer position to build a BA career experience. This is so often easier said than done and Kimberley walks us through exactly how she did it and what value she gleaned from the experience.
Laura: Why did you decide to offer your services on a volunteer basis?
Kimberley: I decided to volunteer because I was eager to apply my new BA learnings on the job, in an actual project environment. I was eager to make that connection between what I was learning through self study and coursework, and the actual demands of a BA role.
I had been reading the book “How to Start a Business Analyst Career” when I became inspired to craft a message out to my network of friends and former business associates. I basically explained my situation and stated I was seeking opportunities that would provide BA experience required to obtain my professional certification (CCBA) through the IIBA.
Well, let me say I was overwhelmed by the response from my request. In the end, I had received three offers to volunteer and one potential job opportunity – all within 24 hours! With my availability looking like it would soon change because of the potential job opportunity, I was able to work out a short term volunteer position until I received a concrete job offer.
Laura: Why did you decide to accept the position? Where there other opportunities that you evaluated this against?
Kimberley: It wasn’t an easy decision to make because I was nervous about the challenge. In the end, I decided to accept the position because I sensed it was going to be more than an opportunity to experience an unfamiliar project environment and to learn something new that would stretch me. I didn’t know what it would lead to, but I knew I couldn’t let it slip by.
It was also close to home, while the other opportunities where a much farther commute.
Laura: What made this a positive experience?
Kimberley: There was so much about the experience that was positive that it’s funny to think I was ever so nervous about the decision to accept it! I received positive feedback on my strengths and my capabilities as a BA. I also received some constructive feedback on how to improve my elicitation and interview skills. I learned about the Agile project environment, and I met some wonderful people and made new friends.
Laura: What did you learn from the experience? How is this experience important to your BA career?
Kimberley: I gleaned insight into the various roles of the project team and witnessed the benefits of team synergy when led by a highly skilled Project Manager. I met some wonderful people who have become new members of my network. I was able to inform another BA about the CCBA certification and we have agreed to start a local study group for it, and I was able to assist another member of network to acquire project information to start an Agile approach in his organization because of my experience. It has increased my confidence in my abilities, and it has given me a new perspective on the BA role that I didn’t have before.
Laura: Based on your experience, what recommendations would you give other potential BAs looking to find volunteer opportunities as part of their career development?
Kimberley: I would recommend keeping a list of key network contacts and letting your network know what you are doing to improve your BA skill set. Nurse the perception that you are investing time and effort into building your career and you are willing to offer your services to others to gain additional experience.
Inform your network of your goals and ask for their help. Also, let them know you are willing to support their career goals. Look to schools, churches, non-profit’s, and your local IIBA chapter for opportunities where you can offer your BA services.
Laura: Anything else you’d like to share?
Kimberley: Don’t be afraid of taking big steps to advance your BA career. It may feel awkward. You will lack confidence at times, and you will feel out of your depths at other times. It’s all part of the growing process. You will be amazed at what you can do when you attempt it, and you will be glad that you did.
Make sure you send a post internship thank you to your contact at the company, and to the member of your network who assisted to obtain the volunteer opportunity. Highlight what you gained from the experience and state specific examples when possible. Remember, your letter is not just a thank you but a great example for that individual to demonstrate how they build talent, relationships, and help promote the company.
Laura: Thank you so much, Kimberley, for sharing your story!
Make This Happen For You
We discuss additional ways to expand your business analyst experience in the posts below.