Technology Careers

Careers as a Business Analyst
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Marie Johnson
IT Specialty:
Computer Science
Job Title:
Business Analyst
Fortune 500 Insurance Company
BS in Education in Mass Communication, minor in Library Science.

Q. Do you feel your degree adequately prepared you for your technology career?
A. There are very few people within my area that have "true" IT backgrounds.  The majority of my co-workers are company-literate, willing to learn, team players, and computer-savvy.  When I graduated, computers weren’t nearly as prevalent as they are in today’s business world so I definitely wasn’t prepared enough from an IT perspective. However, I was willing to learn.

Q. How many years have you been in the IT field?
A. 2 years

Q. Have you ever worked in a field outside IT?
A. I have been with the same major insurance company for 24 years - of those years, I spent 18 years working as a Life Underwriter. The remainder of the time I’ve spent at this company has been in the Journalism area - where I was the editor for the regional publications (agency and operations).   Prior to working for my current company, I worked as a PR editor and secretary for a steel company.

Q. In what way did working in other fields prepare you for the IT field?
A. My current position in the Systems area of the company is based on my ability to communicate, organize, evaluate, and work well with others.  Basically, every position I have held has enhanced my current skill set.

Q. What personality traits and skills do you possess that you feel help you in your specific IT field?
A. Tenacity, a continued interest in learning new things, teamwork, the ability to share knowledge, and the ability to figure things out "on my own".

Q. What steps does someone go through to get a job in this field?
A. My job is based on an interest in computers, development of products for insurance lines, and sheer willingness to step outside the comfort level of the main product lines at this company. However, the company I’m at may be a rarity. I think traditionally, the following steps would need to be followed to get a job in the IT field. 1. First, learn the current job you have and do it well.  If you cannot do your current job well, you have no reason to assume that a position in Information Technologies will be "better!"     2. Make use of the opportunities that appear within your current employer.  If there is an opportunity to serve in a volunteer role for a Systems-related project, volunteer!  Whenever the chance appears to learn a new "Systems-related" application, learn it.  Attend as many classes , and seminars , that you can possibly attend to absorb Systems-speak.  3. Never stop the process of learning new concepts. 4. Network with the individuals that do the job you want.

Q. What are ways to advance in your field?
A. 1. Continue your education. 2. Give 100% every day in your current job. 3. Volunteer for projects that are outside your "comfort" zone. 4. Learn at least one new thing each day that will enhance your IT knowledge.   5. Be a team player— and make sure that your other team members shine.  

Q. What is the most enjoyable thing about your job?
A. Each day is a different adventure than the day before! I learn something new each day and I feel that I make a contribution to my company.  I can honestly state that my current job is the most enjoyable position that I've held in 27-plus years of employment!!

Q. What is the biggest challenge regarding your job?
A. Traversing through the multiple layers of people, paperwork, and processes required to complete a specific goal.

Q. What are your daily tasks like?
A. The majority of my work comes from trouble tickets generated from the helpdesk. In addition to trying to get a hold of users to look at their issues, there are account requests for new or transferring users. There are usually a few software installs to do throughout the day. Rounding out my days are usually various users calling for help or questions outside of tickets.

Q. What skills do you use at work?
A. Organization, attention to detail, communication, ability to prioritize, teamwork

Q. What percentage of your day do you spend working independently or in a group?
A. Possibly 90% of my day involves work on individual assignments.  Although I work on multiple projects, which have large teams, I still have my individual assignments that must be completed, with little monitoring to make sure I complete the job.

Q. What is one thing you didn’t know about your field before getting into it that you wish you had known?
A. There is a difference between someone that works within an IT shop and someone that works on the IT shop.  While knowing the specifics of computer coding isn't mandatory to do my job, I have to be able to communicate the expectations of the Business Partner to a Systems Analyst that WILL do the actual coding.  Learning to communicate to Systems Analysts - and understanding their role - has been an interesting experience.

Q. If you were a person getting ready to choose an IT major for college, what advice/guidance would you give them?
A. to help them decide between all the fields?
With my exposure to Systems (so far), I’d say, if you are a true "techie" person that loves working code, then move into a programming area.  If you enjoy working on a problem, such as evaluating code, looking for errors, critical evaluation, consider a pursuing a Testing Analyst position. If you enjoy working with projects, taking an issue from start to finish - then consider a Business Analyst or IT Project Manager position.

Q. If you could give me one quote about why you feel Information Technology is “THE” field to be in what would it be?
A. Every day is a new adventure.  I cannot imagine how I worked as long as I did and didn't get into the Systems area until two years ago!