Somehow these monthly posts continue motivating me to write abstract thoughts which allow for a modicum of reflection.
This month’s topic comes from Andy Leonard (b|t), who I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a few times whether in NC or VA. Why do we do the stuff we do? Why have we focused so much on our career development? Well, it may seem pretty standard, but there are multiple “why” questions that can be asked in a string.
Why did becoming a data professional become appealing?
In college, when I had a class introducing me to database concepts, I had the chance to think about more advanced features of Access from my high school days and how to query this data. The consumption of information and its interpretation goes a long way. There is a phrase I heard at one time: In God we trust; all others must bring data.
I do this because I showed an aptitude for this ability, and knew there could be a challenge learning how to move data from one place to another. I ended up working with Microsoft SQL Server by default at my places of employment, which obviously led to me building a resume on how to swing the hammer, but I then was able to see how it was more than just “SQL development” but actually analyzing and managing the data to solve problems.
The biggest aspect today which keeps me loving what I do is the evolution of analysis and automation to get this abundance of data managed more efficiently. With predictive analytics
taking having taken off, I really get to see how consumers of the data can make informed decisions based on facts. I get to see at the end how the use of data can contribute to society.
Okay, why is this a good way to contribute to society?
For the majority of the last five years, the companies I have worked for are all in the healthcare industry. It’s an industry where the concern is the betterment of other humans’ lives. That alone is reason to like where I ended up when interviewing for different jobs, as I know the companies I am part of are about reaching a person in need.
On an individual level, I provide for the household, which is of utmost importance. However, treating this as a legit career is more motivation to really stretch the difference being made to allow for the level of security to stay in the industry. It doesn’t feel like “living to work” either, as taking lessons back makes the “job” aspect easier to manage.
Then why involve yourself in a professional association like PASS?
Naturally, this also comes back to this question and why I’m writing this post. Well, I first joined looking to get better at this job. I didn’t know much then, and there’s still more I don’t know versus what I do know with both changes in the platform and my struggles to apply lessons taking a while.
So why did you increase your involvement, from volunteering and periodic blog entries to throwing your hat in the tech speaker circuit?
The reason is two-fold. The more selfish reason: it helps me raise my profile on my career track while motivating me to learn more. The less selfish reason: because
I’m totally an expert in some areas who can talk down to others on how to do stuff better addressing how I have solved a problem will help someone looking for a solution. I soaked up knowledge for a while, but then gave my first talks on a professional level in late 2016-early 2017. I gained enough confidence to slowly become an okay public speaker who could then teach the next set of beginners a few things. As for the facilitation and assistance at events, volunteer work is a way to keep this outlet going to keep it alive. Another great thing about having a professional community is that it forces me to network with others. As a person on the spectrum, networking is a weaker suit but the ability to meet people who have all kinds of interests to bond over is key.
Autism? Why do you involve yourself there?
The spectrum is part of why I showed an aptitude for this subject area, with my compulsive abilities to sort. To get off data for a moment (somewhat), I volunteer with the Autism Society of North Carolina as someone hoping others sufficiently have their living standards improved. The chance to encourage kids on the spectrum to do programming, for instance, can tap into abilities that are often overlooked due to the social quotient.
With all that being said, WHAT is the message?
(What? This is asking why! I’ll let it go.)
Do what you love, and love what you do, and leave a positive impact.