From Academic Administration to an Entry-Level Business Analyst Role

Today we meet Janelle, who made the transition from working in academic administration to business analysis. Despite having a fair amount of professional experience, she was able to find a suitable entry-level business analyst role. While I typically advise not holding out for an entry-level role as they can be difficult to find, it can be worth exploring the options that exist locally. When pursuing an entry-level role, the hiring process is more likely to focus on your transferable soft skills than your documented business analysis experience, as you’ll see when you read Janelle’s story.

Now, let’s hear from Janelle, who was kind enough to answer a few questions about her experience.

Why did you decide to pursue a business analysis career?

I learned about the business analyst role 5 years ago in a continuing education class. At the time I worked for a large university where they joked had a “ready, shoot, aim” philosophy. There was an instant ‘click’ and I remember getting all excited that there was a job field that made instant sense. I really liked that it was solution-oriented, and that maybe the department could apply these skills to some of our upcoming projects.

What was your job search process like? What challenges did you face along the way and how did you overcome them?

My job search was very short, in that I found a company (McKesson) that was looking for entry-level business analysts. End-to-end, the hiring process took 2 weeks, but involved 4 job interviews total.

The interviewer had to re-phrase a couple questions before I fully understood what they were asking, so I would recommend getting comfortable with business analyst terminology. And don’t be afraid to ask clarifying questions; you’ll have to do this with the client anyways!

The most difficult aspect was accepting how much travel would be involved- up to 80%. This meant flying to another state to be involved with software implementation for up to 4 days at a time. While not initially liking the idea of disrupting my daily routine, the benefits grossly out-weighed my discomfort. I’m now excited when I get to travel.

How did you end up in your first BA position? And what’s it been like so far?

This is my first BA-specific role, and I just passed the 3-month mark. I love that I now work with people who are like-minded and solution-oriented. My employer and colleagues value my input, are open to questions, and willing to help with anything. No previous position had all these qualities at once, nor to this caliber.

The first month or two, I felt a bit like a fish out of water in that I was having difficulty following the thread and flow in meetings, but I’m acclimating to it.

What do you consider as the keys to your success?

Enthusiasm for the role and a desire to keep learning. I also now have a manager that keeps me on track with my professional development goals.

What recommendations would you make to others looking to follow a path like yours?

I’d recommend they not doubt their own skills and abilities… it made my path to becoming a BA much longer.  The BA position seems to be one of those rare fields where your natural abilities are just as, if not more so, important than bringing direct experience. I had the skills, but not the confidence.

Thanks so much for sharing your story, Janelle! And here’s to your continued success as a business analyst!

>>Read More Career Transition Stories

Want even more inspiration? We’ve documented dozens of business analysis career transition stories here on Brigding the Gap.

Click here to browse our complete repository of stories

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