Reflection is important

When I look back on all the jobs I’ve held since first entering the workforce at the ripe age of 14, there’s one observation that remains true. That the level of enjoyment, satisfaction and motivation are mostly influenced by one thing, your interactions with others.

The people you work with have a big impact on how you perceive and enjoy your job. That’s what I’ve learned. I’ve been lucky to have met many different yet all interesting people. From long term retail employees, to IT specialists, to construction workers. These interactions have taught me how to deal with people, how to solve problems in different ways and how to adjust to expectations.

I often cherish the workplace relations I’ve had with other colleagues in previous jobs. There have been less fond experiences also. Each experience has given me something to think about and learn from. If my attitude had not evolved since when I was 14, I certainly wouldn’t be good at my current job. So I’m glad to have had both positive and negative experiences.

To share a lesson with you, I’d say that tolerance is the greatest concept I’ve learned in the last decade of working. Understanding that every individual has the capacity to think and act differently to you is important. Guessing or assuming people will respond a¬†particular¬†way to something isn’t very clever. It’s important to accept people and to always respect them, even in times of irresponsibility. We are all at different stages of our lives and careers. We are unaware of different aspects that could be affecting one’s personal life. Often we perceive others inaccurately, we perceive them according to our standards, not according to a general standard. People who we think might be critical of us are probably just new to your way of thinking and approaching things.

Meeting difficult people is a two way lesson. We can learn how to deal with uncomfortable situations better but we should also be assessing whether we contributed to the difficulty in the first place. We often say to ourselves “Gee, that person has a negative attitude, they don’t contribute to team morale do they?”. What we should be thinking is “how have my actions helped in bringing about the best outcome in these circumstances?”

If we place the focus on ourselves and what we can do, then our preoccupation with others tends to have less importance. If we are being constructive in order to solve problems and contribute to our organisation, then there would be less time to judge and point the finger at others.

Whether we like it or not, for most tasks we need to rely on others to accomplish them. If we can ignore minor distinctions in peoples’ personalities then the focus is placed on your actions and the work at hand. As long as you are seen as constructive, there will be people that envy or distrust you but it’s much better to sit back and reflect on what you accomplished than to focus on the flaws (or pettiness) of your colleagues. We all have flaws. It’s better to recognise and work with peoples’ strengths.

Finished University? Get accredited!

Finished university? Congratulations! You are now almost employable (if your grades can speak for themselves). You can expect months of job searching while you keep your part-time retail job. On the bright side, you’ve been at that retail job for so long you may even qualify to become an underpaid supervisor.

All cynicism aside… Ok you’ve finished uni and have gained employment in an office job in your career path or at least something interesting. What do you do next?

Whether you are in your desired role or not, the process of developing yourself has not finished, in fact you are probably less than half-way there despite your recent three years at university. Continue reading

Whether to study a post grad

After completing a Bachelor’s degree, some students go straight into post-graduate studies, other students declare “school is out” and others enter the workforce to before making the decision.

In my last year of studies, I was so desperate to have a post-student life that I didn’t contemplate going back, not until I had spent a few years in the workforce.

After working in the public service for 15 months, I’m still unsure of when to pursue further formal education. I have been told that it’s best to work for a few years as a career path will become clearer once I have some industry experience. This makes sense as then I’ll be able to decide whether I’d like to specialise in one area or study a new stream altogether. It also allows me to explore what options are available to study while I work.

At this point in time, I’m not sure what area of studies I’d like to pursue. One interest is to learn more about accounting and ensure I have financial knowledge to complement what I’ve already learned. It’s known that once you get to the managerial level of ICT, budgets and cost come in to play much more. Being financially literate is an advantage when justifying expenditure and conveying ideas. The only issue with studying accounting is that I may be planning too far ahead.

So the other study streams I think are plausible would be to pursue project management or business analysis courses. While both are expensive, they would be a step in the right direction. Prine2 or PMP courses would be great to have under my belt. Similarly, specific courses relating to business requirements and business analysis would put me in good stead also.

I’ve seen people complete their Bachelor’s and post grad diplomas all at once before entering the workforce as a graduate. While this would be desirable, I didn’t have any fuel left in me to continue studying at the end of my degree.

I hope to check back in a year’s time to see how I feel about it then. Maybe I’ll have some courses under my belt by then. Here’s hoping.

Vocation is not your occupation

I had a discussion with a friend of mine yesterday that started off with: “what is your personal vocation in life?”

The first thought that came to mind was “I don’t have a vocation, I’m not a teacher and not a nurse” so I asked if he meant what’s the motto I live by.

It was then established that neither of us had a clear grasp on the word “vocation”. One of us thought that vocation meant your occupation or career aspirations while the other thought it meant some sort of principled attitude to life.

So the reasoning behind the question was that besides our occupation, there isn’t much else that we contribute to during our lives. I made the comment that when we die, nobody stands up and remarks at how good you could code in SQL, implying that our jobs are of minor importance in the grand scheme of things.

Our current job is just one aspect of our lives but it doesn’t define us as a human being. That’s not where we have our biggest impact on humanity (for most of us at least).

This is what my friend wrote on the matter:

I think an occupation can fall into 3 categories: a Job ( lil satisfaction) a Carear ( career improvement and life fulfillment until retirement) and then your vocation (the activity that is your birthright and something you were born to do, complete life fulfillment)

I’ll finish with a quote on vocation that I found on the web:

Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life; everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated, thus, everyone’s task is unique as his specific opportunity to implement it.

-Viktor E. Frankl

Business Analysis – my introduction

For the past few years I’ve been working towards my career aspiration of becoming a business analysis.

The purpose of this blog was to document the concepts I was learning towards the end of my University degree.

Obviously this hasn’t happened but it’s never too late to get things started. As I have other internet profiles of a more social nature, I’d like to turn this blog into a repository of the topics that are of a more professional nature.

Without further ado, I’d like to kick off a series of BA related posts by starting with my enthusiasm for the job title.

So at University, I was first introduced to the position of Business Analyst. “You’ll tell the IT programmers what to do”. This is what some of the lecturers would tell us. There was a gap between the business and IT areas of an organisation. This barrier was perhaps a communication issue or even a cultural issue.

We were told we’d be the problem solvers in the organisation. Understanding the business needs while also being familiar with the technology and its limitations. It was a good fit for me at the time. I was very interested in IT yet I struggled with programming and preferred learning about business. That’s when it all made sense. I didn’t need to be a programmer to work in the ICT field. I could also study business related units whilst having a specific target industry.

So here I am. Graduated from the Bachelor of Business Informatics. Along the way I’ve acquired an interest for Disaster Recovery Planning, information systems, IT project management and Information Security. I’ve also realised there are areas that I didn’t develop so well such as accounting and cost benefit analysis. I have a few skills, a few interests, the desire to learn more still.

Despite my education, I feel that there is a lot for me to figure out. The career path of Business Analyst isn’t clearly defined. While we have thousands of BAs in Australia, the position hasn’t been around long enough to really understand what the specific streams are and what qualifies you to enter this field.

As I attempt to become a business analyst, I look forward to sharing what I learn along the way.