My Experience as an Iteration Insights Practicum Data Analyst

My professional career has been a balance of roles that has groomed me and made me realize how passionate I am about data. My longest position was five years as a Data Analyst – Internal Audit in Lagos, Nigeria.

This role gave me hands-on experience in extracting, analyzing, reporting, and presenting data for Risk Management and reporting for management decisions done in Excel using PowerPivot and Power Query.   

in 2019, as a new immigrant to Canada, I felt the overwhelming need to grow professionally, improving myself and my knowledge in handling data, and learn new trending technologies for data manipulation and reporting.

I pondered upon the idea of going back to school for a while, faced mostly with the fear of wondering if I would be able to cope being in a new country and trying to balance cultural diversity and norms.   

Thanks to a great support system, I was motivated and accepted that it was okay to be scared. I embraced the fear and used it to motivate myself while keeping my eyes on the prize, becoming a successful Data / Business Intelligence Analyst.

I started my research on possible courses I could take to help improve myself and be more relevant. After a while, a friend I spoke to about this referred me to SAIT’s Business Intelligence: Data Analytic and Reporting certification (BSN). I applied to the program and was accepted.

If you are on your journey of transitioning to a Business Intelligence career, I highly recommend this post on Data Analytics Programs in Alberta.

Challenges at SAIT

On May 4, 2020, I started classes with SAIT BSN Fast Track Program. It was a positive learning experience despite coming with its challenges. With the rise in the pandemic, social amenities were shut down, including daycares, meaning that time management became more important than ever.

It was hard separating school time and family time. However, with proper planning and the right mindset, eventually, I created a workable schedule that got me through this period.

As a SAIT student, I met new people from diverse backgrounds, who are now part of my close circle and network. The classes, held virtually, ended in August 2020, with the only pending requirement being the compulsory 8-week mandatory practicum.

The goal of the internship is to provide hands-on practice, real-world experience, and mentorship. 

The search for an organization that would hire for my practicum proved to be very difficult. Many applications were met with rejections, mainly related to the fact that the companies required individuals with more experience than I had.

Also, due to the ongoing pandemic, it seemed companies were reluctant to hire. Fortunately, with the tech transition in Alberta, funding opportunities created a few positions in Business Intelligence and Data Analysis.

Getting Hired by Iteration Insights

A few weeks into my job search, Joelle Mason (HR) reached out to me about the opportunity to start my Practicum with Iteration Insights.

During my time at SAIT, I had learned directly from Chris Sorenson and Tutu Hamid, who are a part of the Iteration Insights team. The opportunity to work with the company was the boost my career needed and an experience I was looking forward to having. 

On October 5, 2020, I started my practicum with Iteration Insights. Upon resumption, Joelle revealed that she had been part of the presentation of my final Power BI project at SAIT and was impressed with my content and story-telling.

An encouragement to every current and intending student of the Business Intelligence & Reporting program is to give their best on every task.

Take on every challenge with the desire to provide relevant value. This effort will be evident in the quality of your work and will not go unnoticed.

First Day with Iteration Insights

My first day at work went by seamlessly.

It started with being introduced to the team, who welcomed me and were supportive in helping me feel like a part of the team. During the floor walk (all COVID-19 good practice duly observed), I met the President of Iteration Insights, Chris Sorensen, who was very welcoming and encouraged me on my new journey.

My final stop was meeting the Head of HR to sign my documentation and contract. It was official!

I have started the next step to bring me closer to my goal.

As Iteration Insights is a remote company, I was able to work from home with flexible time. This work environment was easy to adapt to as I had adopted this already from having my classes online.

In general, it was easy for me to have my workstation set up at home and ready to go.

My first team lunch.

How Iteration Insights Collaborates

A virtual meeting is part of the new norm.

My classes at SAIT were virtual through Microsoft Teams, and before I landed my role at Iteration Insights, I had a couple of interviews with prospective employers through Zoom. Although Microsoft Teams is the official communication platform between my team members and me, I still struggled with settling into the flow, as anyone would.

Thankfully, everyone on the Iteration Insights team was open to assist me in any way they could. It got easier daily for me, and I quickly adapted to my new work environment and teammates.

I had a very experienced mentor Emily Gu, who had a well-structured learning plan and was always ready to help. I never felt left out or alone on my learning journey, and I am grateful for this.

My mentor and I had a great working relationship, which I believe contributed positively to my work experience.

So far, I have loved being a part of this team. Each member is always ready to help and willing to provide resources to assist me with my tasks and projects.

Collaboration is a key part of the culture here. We were able to connect as a team through the occasional Friday Virtual Happy Hour and a monthly collaboration meeting, Call of Data. These meetings gave opportunities to share our work experiences and support each other.

The Environment at Iteration Insights

My team implements custom data architecture and reporting solution that supports small to medium business.

These solutions clarify organizational performance and enable data-driven confidence. As part of my responsibilities, I have had to work on several projects that required DAX skills.

My teammates have always come through with providing guidance, knowledge base, and direction. This advice has helped build my competence.

Iteration Insights advocates the lifelong learning of its employees, with in-house training and incentives on relevant certifications and even one on one monthly check-ins.

With a focus on building a strong analytics community in Calgary, we run the Calgary Power Platform User Group and Azure Analytics User Group that bring subject matter experts from all over the world.

Conclusion

My experience as a practicum student with Iteration Insights has been a memorable one.

I am even more enthusiastic about how much I can contribute to the forever changing BI world. I tell myself to take every day as a stepping stone and continuously work to improve my skills. 

Although I had so many ups and downs at the beginning of this journey, I am super proud of how much I have achieved and overcome and how much I have blossomed into a confident Data Analytics Consultant. 

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