Business Intelligence Year One

In January of 2015 I began my Business Intelligence (BI) journey as an intern for EV Technologies. At that time I was attending Grand Valley State University (GVSU) pursuing a BBA in MIS and Marketing. Prior to my internship, I had been introduced to a few BI tools and continued to learn during my year as an intern.

GVSU is a very unique university, as they offer numerous SAP-based classes. I quickly became engulfed in SAP with BI catching my interest. While at GVSU I took the SAP TERP10 Certification, which turned out to be the most beneficial learning experience of my college career. Learning how SAP application flowed throughout the business processes is incredibly worthwhile as you get out into the workforce. Throughout many classes I was taught how to “think critically”- this is a skill that will come with time and experience but is extremely valuable. A class that I had taken was partially based on real world experiences and how to handle certain situations. For GVSU students interested in this course it’s called “MGT 371: ERP Systems Analysis and Design”. This is another skill that will come with time, but being able to read peoples’ body language and learning how to communicate accordingly is crucial.

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On February 10, 2016 I was asked to speak at a speaker series event at GVSU that was hosted by an organization called Enterprise System Student Union (ESSU). I was joined with Eric Vallo, Chief Architect & CEO of EV Technologies, and Audrey Koons, who is currently one of our application development interns. The event is organized for students participating in the ERP Program as a way to provide opportunities and career paths for students who are interested in internships. It also provides an opportunity to learn more about the specific companies that are invited to present.

Transitioning from an intern to a full-time BI Consultant was nerve wracking. I didn’t have much confidence in my technical abilities and had to overcome my insecurities. At first I took more of a back seat to observe others around me and soon after I started to gain more confidence. As my confidence grew, my mindset shifted: I was no longer afraid of the unknown.  If I didn’t know an answer, I could always say “I need some time to think about this, can I get back to you later today?” I have found that most professionals do not have a problem with this, because no one knows everything. Just make sure you get back to them at the specified time.

In BI, just like any other business, time is money. When developing reports, you only have a few seconds to relay a message. When a client looks at a dashboard you only have about thirty seconds or less to capture their attention and to show them the information they require. As a consultant you need to be able to take business requirements and convey those requirements through data visualizations. When writing technical blogs, they need to be short and concise. When time is money, everything needs to be straight to the point.

The advice I have for students thinking about taking on a consulting role is to pay attention to your surroundings. Be a sponge, soak up as much information as possible and use it to your advantage. The best advice I could give a student, no matter what career path they choose, is to find yourself a mentor. My mentor Bonnie Brown has helped me grow tremendously as a consultant. I’m very lucky to have such amazing coworkers that help me to succeed. There are going to be times when you get knocked down and you want to give up, but the only way to continue to grow is to get back up and keep pushing yourself.

It was a great feeling being asked to speak at my alma mater less than a year after graduation. It’s overwhelming to look back on how much I’ve grown in the last year. I’ve learned so much and gained so much confidence in my abilities. Consulting is a hard business, but if you work hard and keep pushing you can achieve anything. I recommend students take consulting into consideration as they research career paths. As a consultant you gain a considerable amount of experience working with different clients, and being able to travel at a young age is priceless.

For students interested in the ERP Program at GVSU check out The Seidman ERP Program Curriculum Options for more information!

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