10 Things I've Learned in My First Month as a Data Analyst
I'm finishing up my 5th week as a data analyst at my current company. It's been great and I've learned a lot since starting. I'm truly enjoying my work. While my previous articles have been about how to get a data analyst role, my upcoming articles will be how to succeed in the role and my overall journey from aspiring data analyst to full-time data analyst. In this article, I go over 10 things I've learned in my first month (well 5 weeks really) as a data analyst. These are in no particular order.
10 Things I've Learned
1 Take notes on everything especially during meetings. A lot is going to be thrown at you in the beginning, especially in your first month. It will be difficult to remember it all so take notes. Digital or paper, choose what works for you. Personally, I take notes using Google Docs. It makes it easier for me to reference something that my manager mentioned or noted.
2 Have a system to keep track of projects and tasks. While the first week was me absorbing information the last week or two I've been working on a few projects. It's important to have a system to keep track of all the projects and tasks you have to do. While your company might have a preferred method, it could also be left up to you - check first.
3 Document everything you're doing, especially SQL code. Formal documentation is important. Companies may have specific protocols when it comes to documenting changes to existing code or dashboards.. If that's the case, follow them. But if not, then keep a running record of what changes you've made. Especially with SQL code, that way if you have to come back to your code you understand what changes you made.
4 When debugging SQL query break it down into smaller chunks to determine where the problem is. More often than not, the first SQL query you write might not work. This piece of advice was given to me by the senior analyst. Break down the SQL code into smaller components to identify where the query is going wrong. For example, test a subquery as a standalone query to see if it works by itself.
5 Ask for an informal or formal 30 day review from your manager. One of the best ways to determine how you're doing at your job (performance) is by receiving feedback from your manager. Some managers will automatically schedule a 30 day review. If not, ask your manager for one. I had one recently with my manager and it helped me understand any concerns they had with my performance (they didn't really, I'm doing well 😁)
6 Understand what's expected of you after one week, one month, and six months. Knowing that's expected of you at the different stages helps you manage your growth and development. You'll also know if you're hitting the "milestones" that the company and/or manager wants you to reach.
7 Be proactive, take initiative and seek out opportunities to work on new projects. This shows your commitment to the role and willingness to go beyond the basics. You can also diversify the projects you're working on and expose yourself to new challenges and opportunities. In my second week I asked to take on a (mini) project and it was an exciting moment when I finished it (with a bit of help).
8 Figure out what's critical in your role aka vital to the success of the company. This can help you prioritize and figure out what are the most important things you do. It can also help you determine what are more "accessory" or bonus tasks you have to do. Which are nice to have but not vital if something more important comes up.
9 Understand the business and what's the role of data analytics at the company. While data analysis skills (e.g. SQL, Tableau) are important, understanding the business and how data analytics helps the company's goal, is important as well. It will help you understand the bigger picture and your role in the company itself. This is especially true for smaller companies.
10 Never stop learning. Once you get the job, the learning doesn't stop there. Data analytics has a lot of evolving tools and technologies. It's important to keep learning, and keep up with the latest trends in the industry, along with improving your skills. After work and after my part-time job I spend at least 30 minutes a day learning or practicing a skill (e.g. SQL).
While I couldn't cover every single learning from this past month, I wanted to highlight a few key insights I've taken away. Remember, it's not just about technical skills but also about thriving in the analyst role. Building relationships with colleagues inside and outside your team is essential as it fosters future collaboration. Hopefully, these insights will help those you on your data analyst journey. Until next time, keep analyzing and keep growing!