As anyone who reads this probably knows, I spent my college days in a practice room, determined to be a professional French horn player. Mind you, I didn’t have a very clear idea of what this looked like, I just knew I wanted to play horn and get paid for it. Problem is, once it became time to actually put this plan into action, I’d discovered a couple of things. The obvious ways to be a professional hornist (play in an orchestra, play in a military band, teach children) were all unappealing. I didn’t like most orchestral repertoire, my big gay self had no business joining the military and children made me itch. (Never mind the now-obvious fact that orchestral jobs are few and band jobs not that much more plentiful.) I would have been blissfully happy if someone had given me a fulltime job playing in a woodwind quintet, but that’s just not a thing, really. So what now?
Luckily, I had also found out that I like working in an office just fine, and I liked working with computers, and particularly in the mid-late ’80’s, as far as computer knowledge, in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. So I quickly worked my way up from word-processing typist to tech support to trainer to tech writer, and on and on. All while I pursued various performance opportunities.
So now it’s 2020 and I find myself, without paying much attention, with a 30-year career as a technology professional and a seasoned (and really quite good) business analyst. OK, what’s a business analyst? Good question, as the term actually can mean a couple of different things. I’ve seen it used for the job where someone spends their days drumming up business, kind of a sales job. And also to mean “business intelligence analyst”, which is someone who works with data and designs reports and dashboards for people who need to use the data to make business decisions. (I would actually find that job interesting, if I had the training for it, which I don’t, really.) No, but what I do is act as the liaison between business and technology, finding out what the business needs to happen (or think it needs), then through interviews and research and analysis, turning that into a a set of specifications that I can turn over to technology so they can make that actually happen. I act as the SME (subject matter expert) when technology has questions, make sure once they build/implement the thing, that it actually meets what business needs, and then help roll it out.
A BA can be involved in different kinds of projects, such as infrastructure, but I’ve always been involved in software development, which I like. I like the work a lot, really, it’s a lot of fun if the teams are good and the company itself isn’t insane. And I have enough experience now that I’m officially a Senior BA, meaning I’ve led and mentored other BAs.
The BA role didn’t really exist as a thing until the last couple of decades, and when I first got the title, there was no certification for it. There is now: I’m a member of IIBA, and they offer various certifications that nowadays you do find job postings looking for. The one I should really get now is the highest-level general certification (CBAP). I’d never felt the need before, so hadn’t bothered. It requires attending classes and taking a test, and it’s a lot of money, ideally which you get your employer to pay for.
Well, currently unemployed, I had been using some downtime to do some career development, like doing some of the LinkedIn learning classes. But it hadn’t occurred to me until this week to use the downtime to get a piece of paper that actually might be concretely useful to me getting that next job. But… IIBA just offered a deal on a certification I didn’t know existed – in cybersecurity as it relates to BA work. Oo, cool. The training for the exam is online and self-paced (yay!). You have to pay for both the materials and the exam (and it’s not cheap), but if you take the exam before the end of April, you get refunded for the exam (which is over half the cost). And of course you can deduct the rest on next year’s taxes as a business expense. And then you have a certification, which looks impressive, and new knowledge which may actually help you in a job.
Judging from the training materials (I’ve now finished the first of about eight sections), I should be able to do an hour a weekday and finish up by mid-April. Exams can be scheduled almost any time. So… I’m excited about this, it’s actually a sensible move forward.
If by May, things are still as shut-down as they are and I’m not getting any nibbles on getting hired, maybe I’ll go for the CBAP. Again, tax-deductible.
As I’d said many times during the last miserable year, I’m now at the age where my parents retired – I’m not looking to advance in my career or have anything get more ‘fast-paced’ or difficult. I just want to do stuff and get paid for it until I can retire in 12 years or whatever. But this seems like a sensible path and, honestly, what else do I have to do right now?