Building Your Confidence with Toastmasters: Maria’s move from UAT to BA

One very common challenge that aspiring business analysts face is finding the confidence required to facilitate meetings and lead stakeholder groups.  While Maria is not the first professional to share how critical Toastmasters was in building confidence and moving into a business analyst job, she is the first to write about it here at Bridging the Gap.

public speakingI invite you to read Maria’s story and learn how Toastmasters helped her prepare to take on her business analysis responsibilities and present herself well in the job interview.

Laura: Why did you decide to pursue a business analysis career?

Maria: I have a great respect and admiration for the work that business analysts do. I believe there must be a tremendous sense of accomplishment in every piece of work. I also think a lot of heart and soul goes into the work a business analyst does.

I am passionate about my work and I feel this role is a perfect outlet for that passion: I get to be creative while serving a purpose and I will have endless learning and opportunities for growth and self-improvement.

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

Maria: I actually didn’t go through a typical job search because I already worked in a project area as a User Acceptance Tester. I heard about this posting and already knew about the company and the business. For me, it was a matter of getting my resume spruced up (with help from Bridging the Gap articles, by the way) and taking the leap and applying.

My personal process leading up to this point, however, was years in the making. I needed to get over my fear of public speaking. I did this by forcing myself to say something in every meeting. I also joined Toastmasters International and volunteered to facilitate a monthly Continuous Improvement discussion that includes representatives from various project groups in the division.

Laura: Tell us a little more about how Toastmasters and public speaking helped create this first BA opportunity for you.

I could go on for hours about how much Toastmasters has done for me, but to boil it down, I would have to say that it’s the supportive and encouraging atmosphere that has made the difference. I used to dread and actually fear having to say anything in a group of more than 3 or 4 people – even within my own team! But through practice in the warm environment, and especially because of the helpful and honest feedback I received in Toastmasters, I now have more confidence to speak.

The increasing  self-confidence is helping with all aspects of my work and is what propelled me to apply for this job. During the job interviews, it was my participation in Toastmasters that helped me organize my thoughts and keep my focus while answering and asking questions, rather than babble on and on until I forgot what the question was!

I truly believe that I owe a great deal to Toastmasters with respect to where I am now.

Laura: What do you consider as the keys to your success?

Maria: I hope to be successful. I think the key will be to cultivate trust. I also believe that clear, concise and consistent communication is paramount.

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

I recommend taking a close look at your challenges or impediments and stepping out of your comfort zone to address and overcome them (or at least tame them enough to know you can get there with some persistence).

Laura: Thank you so much for sharing your story, Maria! On behalf of the entire business analyst community, I wish you all the best success in your business analysis career. We will be here to support and empower you along the way.

For more inspiration on your business analysis journey, be sure to check out the rest of our BA Career Transition stories, shared by Bridging the Gap readers like you!

Click here to browse the list of BA career transition stories

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