[Ask IT Career Coach] is a Career Advice Column for Information Technology (IT) professionals looking for answers to their most challenging career situations.
This post answers the question posted by a reader in Chantilly, Virginia who needs some practical help and advice on how to start a career in business analysis.
Here is the reader’s question:
I am struggling to place myself as a Business Analyst. It just seems like I am in a circle trying to find a corner … Most of the requirements are unique and specific and ask for Business Intelligence skills or Data Analysis which has become a very big challenge /struggle for any beginner in the BA / IT field.
It would really help if you could link us to some Non Profit Organizations who would hire us based on our interest and knowledge in the BA field or else it would practically be impossible to achieve the goal of becoming a BA.
Also one of your blogs mentioned that employers are not looking for Junior BA’s but BA’s who are specialist — so does that mean one needs to manipulate their resume or lie in their past experience to succeed ?????
Starting A Business Analyst Career As A Software Tester?
The answers / solutions below are provided by Hazel, a practicing Business Analyst.
Some Business Analysts start out in the Information Technology (IT) field by working on business systems as ‘testers’.
These testers work with senior business analysts who are responsible for writing the use cases or test cases and showing the testers how to execute the test cases / use cases or verify the expected results.
Testing provides you with the opportunity to fully understand how a particular business system works.
For example, if you are testing changes to interest rates in a Credit Card system, from the expected test case results you will get ‘some’ business experience in how interests are calculated or applied in the credit card industry.
You might also be asked to test how outstanding balances are aged (an important calculation), even though you are not yet an expert in the credit card industry.
From Software Testing To Business Analysis
After you have developed your testing skills, you may, for example, apply for a BA position on a mortgage business system where your problem solving skills or business experience are a fit.
In this scenario, you will be a good fit because the mortgage industry deals with financial calculations, interest rates and delinquencies, which means that though you have to learn the mortgage business from scratch, you still have some relevant functional / business background.
From Customer Service Rep (CSR) To Business Analyst
Another option available to you, is to become a Customer Service Rep (CSR). I have trained CSRs into business analysts (BAs). CSRs know a great deal about their business systems because they spend time listening to customers’ concerns or answering front line questions.
I have also trained Information Technology (IT) student interns into business analysts, so consider looking for a student intern position, if you are still in school.
Finally, job searching is about the needs of the employer and not about you.
Business Analysts Are Professional Problem Solvers
So, whether the prospective employer is the government, professional organizations or corporations, they want to know that your skills, knowledge and abilities will add value where they need it the most – solving glitches in software, broken hardware, broken machinery, damages to premises, dissatisfied customers, or a “not so visible – decline” in market share.
As a BA, you solve problems, yes, you do. Companies are looking to solve their problems quickly, that’s why they are looking for people with the right blend of business experience and problem solving skills to help them.
Practical, Hands-on Business Analysis Experience Is King!
Keep two things in mind: becoming a BA is like becoming a Chartered Accountant or even a Lawyer or a Medical Doctor (MD) because after college you have to pass through a phase where you gain hands-on practical experience which is similar to an internship because despite your educational accreditation, you still need that!
Secondly, the title of “Business Analyst” or BA in one company will carry different responsibilities from the same title in another company, so read the job descriptions carefully.
I suggest that you consider 2 or 3 industries that interest you and research the businesses you feel the most passionate about.
For example, if you are passionate about finance, consider the banking and insurance industry which has similar business models and similar but not exact business analyst roles.
If you missed Hazel’s other post titled: “Business Analysts Are Professional Problem Solvers!“, Click Here To Read It Now: