New Beginnings [The Nth First Step]

Another Sunday guys. It feels great writing again. I hope we all had a great week. This one is personal and might be quite some read. So get yourself some chips and a glass of wine.

It was on a day like this, a Sunday, I was in-between jobs, a lady had asked me to talk to someone she knew that was a tech person. I called him and we had a long conversation. He was not into project management or into anything concerning Software delivery, he was a Data Analyst. I listened to all he had to say and it was an interesting conversation. At the end he asked, “Do you want a job now Oscar? or do you want to build out a career?” I honestly needed a job ASAP because I knew how much work I had put in already.

We don’t grow when things are easy, we grow when we face challenges

I answered, I will like to build my career and he said to me, “You will become a Data Analyst”. I was scared, I was shocked, I never planned to become a data analyst. I had 6 certifications in Project management, Scrum, and Lean Six Sigma and someone is telling me that I need to try out a different career path but I am an Oscar (a phrase I always say when I feel challenged) and I had to get it together.

The next week, I went to see him and he asked how good I was with MS Excel and how much I knew about Data Analysis. At that time I had an okay strength in Excel, I was not doing anything extraordinary and the languages I had experience writing did not have anything to do with Data Analysis. My SQL skills were also shaky and I might pass for an intern.  He said he’d like me to learn SAS programming. I had never heard of SAS and did not know where to start. He said they had a certification  “SAS Base Specialist” and he’d like me to learn, practice, and earn that certification and it will take me roughly 5-6 months depending on how much time I put in.

From the above paragraph, you can tell how clueless I was. This is a terrain I had never trod. I was only absorbing information and had little to no input.

I got home and started reading the resources I collected from him on SAS. It was a lot and I knew I had to put in a lot of time to get this done. I got a small job while preparing and It was physically demanding but I needed the income while rebuilding my career. Most times I was getting up at 12am or 2am and sometimes will go a day without sleep. I knew it was not going to be easy and I honestly felt like giving up most times. I wasn’t passionate about it and I did not like my current job too but I knew that nothing comes easy.

Three months in and I passed the exams, I was a SAS Base Specialist, I was excited. Okay! let’s go get a job now… at least that was what I thought. I went back to him and he was impressed. He then said “Oscar, I will like you to be an Advanced Programmer, do you think you can level up that certification?”. I wanted to say NO but what is a few more weeks, I thought to myself. Then he told me it took him a year after he earned the first cert to become an Advanced Programmer. I was devastated to hear that. I told him I would do it.

Don’t limit your challenges, challenge your limits

I Returned, continued reading, working on projects, white papers, and research. This was the toughest challenge I had ever faced because the certification exams were going to be practical and I knew that it will require much work and I was trying to consume so much knowledge in a limited time. Two months in and I decided I was ready. I took the exams and passed. I was so excited and almost in tears when I saw that I passed that exam. Okay, this is the time. I sent my resume to the guy with the two new achievements. I am ready! I am ready! I am a “SAS Advanced Programmer”.

Communication kind of reduced from his side, I knew he might have been going through a lot on his end but I believe that everyone comes into your life at a particular time for a reason and he had played his part in my story. It was left to me at this point. I started applying to jobs, now as a Data Analyst. Shortly after that time, I landed a job as a Junior data analyst / Technical Operations specialist at a Healthcare Tech company. This was exciting! but they didn’t need me to use SAS programming which was not the plan. I accepted the offer and a month into the new role, I got another offer from a cooperate financial institution to be a Junior project manager.

Starting over can be hard and takes courage especially when you are knee-deep into what you were doing. Starting over is not quitting and starting over is not giving up.  If I was to describe the phrase “Starting Over”, I would say it is the process of exploring new paths to your GOAL. It could be your second, third, fourth, …. or nth new beginning but the truth that no one told you is that you do not run out of new beginnings so stop counting.

It is never too late to start over. So if you are at a cross-road maybe you need to restrategize and keep moving but either way, be ready to put in the work. This is where we end today’s post. Don’t forget to share.

I gotta run now 🙂

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