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Making it in IT: Breaking into Business Intelligence and Data Analytics

By - Source: Toms IT Pro

A young IT professional with two degrees and four years of solid experience wants to break out of mainline software development and into business intelligence or data analytics/data science. These are both potentially excellent career moves, and our IT career expert Ed is delighted to make some suggestions as to how to find another job right away, and then how to steer her career in one of those directions.

Dear Ed:

I am Pia Prakesh and I would like to seek your guidance as to which certification will give my career a boost, as there are so many certifications on the market and it’s hard to choose from among them. First, let me tell you briefly about myself; I have development experience in VB6, VB.net and SQL server 2008 for nearly 4 years. And now I plan to move from development work to step into other domains inside the IT sector. I basically want to switch from software development to database or business intelligence coding and analysis work. I am interested in Oracle certifications and I have cleared OCP first part, but I have yet to write the second part of that credential. Right now, I am unable to choose from the certifications available to me, as to which ones will be good and help me to advance my career.

Please, kindly suggest to me which certifications will keep me ahead in the job market and boost my career.

Thanks for your assistance. Please find my answers to your questionnaire below.

Sincerely,
Pia

After some more correspondence with Pia I was able to find out that she holds an MBA and a Bachelor of Engineering in Instrumentation and Control degrees. She also completed a course in Project Management and has interest in Oracle, VB.net, BI and management level certifications. In fact, Pia's long term goal is to work in management not to "remain a developer or team lead." At the moment, Pia is interested in finding a position where she can gain more experience "interacting with clients and acquiring business-level knowledge of applications and services, and how they may best be used in the workplace." While currently living in Canada, she has plans to go back to her home country and therefore would like to focus on certifications and training that will allow her to get a job in both places.

Dear Pia:

Thanks for your recent series of e-mails. I hope you didn’t mind filling out my “Help Me to Help You” questionnaire, because it makes my job ever so much easier when it comes to making suggestions, or providing answers to various questions. Given your background and experience, in fact, I’d be surprised if you didn’t find yourself with offers both in your current country of residence and back in your home country as well, if you go about your job search in the right way. Here’s what I’d suggest that you do:

  1. Add your photo to your resume, and get some trusted friends and mentors to give you feedback on that document. What you sent me isn’t bad, but it could use some tightening up, better focus on where you’d like to go or what you’d like to do next, and perhaps more information about projects undertaken, lessons learned, problems solved, and so forth. A little more graphical content (even just logos for the various products mentioned and so forth) would also help to enliven things considerably.
  2. Find some good recruiters/placement firms in both places, and share your resume and interests with them. Given your combination of credible development experience, a bachelor’s in engineering, and an MBA, you should be attractive to at least some employers in both countries. Look for placement professionals and recruiters who specialize in placing mid- to senior-level programmers and team leads.
  3. Talk to former bosses, colleagues, and co-workers at both of your recent places of employment, and let them know you’re looking for work. If you have the opportunity to return to work at either employer, even if you don’t want to stay there, it might be wise to return to the workforce. As the old saying goes: “It’s always easier to find a job when you’re working than it is when you’re not.”
  4. If you’re not already active on LinkedIn, you’ll want to bring up a profile quickly, start aggressively developing your network, and get the word out that you’re looking for work. You can also search for work on LinkedIn as well, and I’d recommend signing up at some of the better online job search sites as well (see these blog postings I’ve created on using such sites: PearsonITCert 11/22/10, UpperTraining 12/17/12). On LinkedIn, join professional groups for your various competencies (SAP, Oracle, SQL Server, industrial controls, and so forth). These can be wonderful sources of market intelligence, and early warning for new positions available.
  5. Consider hiring a career coach to help you refine and improve your self-presentation, and to help you truly zero in on what you really want to do next, and where you want to do it.

Identifying Suitable Certifications

Given the various interests and experience you’ve shared, and your half-way status on the Oracle OCP, I also have some specific certifications to recommend to you:

  1. Yes, you should finish your OCP as soon as you can. If you’re not working right now, you can easily put 20-30 hours a week into preparing for the 2nd part of the OCP and get that credential under your belt as soon as you can.
  2. Given your existing exposure to and knowledge of Oracle, you should look at their business intelligence and analytics certifications right away –something like the Oracle Business Intelligence series (look for Business Intelligence on their All Certs page) might fit your needs and interests nicely.
  3. Given your background in Microsoft technologies (VBS and presumably also Visual Studio and .NET) you should look into their BI credentials as well – specifically, the MCSE: Business Intelligence credential.
  4. If you want to get into analytics and big data/data science, the SAS Institute certifications should also appeal to you. Check out my March blog entitled “Data Miners, Big Data Analysts, and BI Types: Don’t Overlook SAS Certifications.”
  5. For further leads in the big data/data science/analytics areas please check out these other blogs “More Big News From the Big Data Front” and “Big Data and Data Analytics: Topics Ripe for Certification.” There are enormous opportunities in this space right now, along with amazing chances for job growth and career advancement going forward.

I have to believe that with your education and experience, you should be able to turn up some opportunities fairly quickly, and get some traction in the employment market. While Canada’s economy is not growing as quickly as that in your home country, both locations appear to offer lots of opportunities to those who know how to seek them out, and how to pursue them actively and intelligently.

Best of luck in your job search and career planning, and thank you very much for writing.

--Ed

Ed Tittel is a 30-year-plus veteran of the , who’s worked as a programmer, a technical manager, a instructor, a network consultant and a technical evangelist for companies that include Burroughs, Schlumberger, Novell, IBM/Tivoli and NetQoS. He has written and blogged for numerous publications, including Tom's Hardware, and is the author of over 140 computing books with a special emphasis on information security, Web markup languages and development tools, and Windows operating systems.

Check out Ed's Tom's IT Pro blog Making It in IT - Certification & Training.

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