Two weeks ago, I completed my first -month contract as a “Medical Data Analyst” after coming from a 7-year healthcare management career. This most recent role consisted of a lot of data entry (manual categorization of products into a sprawling, 450+ item taxonomy) but a good amount of light automation (formulas, macros, and a bit of VBA to get data from our raw report to a working file and then to a log file); functional interaction with SAP Web Intelligence (pulling reports to Excel, using slicers and filters, creating some very crude dashboard elements for auditing purposes); and data cleanup (INDEX/MATCH, SUMPRODUCT, COUNTIF, COUNTIFS, EXACT to identify/reconcile duplicates, identify capitalization/spacing issues, and stitch together data from multiple analysts that should have been standardized by the templates we used but, unsurprisingly, was not).

The role itself was fairly slow-paced with lots of routine work, but I feel it helped give me some direction. In my immediate future, I see myself drawn toward analytics and data processes more so than business processes. I wasn’t particularly excited about the heart of our business (purchasing), but I was interested in all of the process automation my boss was interested in implementing over the next 1-3 years. Immediately, I want to get some hands-on business experience with SQL (I have SQL Server 2017 installed at home and have done some light querying), possibly some BI tools, and then Python or R. I am also very open to the idea of getting into the data engineering side with more advanced database work, Hadoop, Spark, Hive, Airflow, etc., but I recognize that there’s a lot of technical background I would need for this.

As I mentioned, my contract ended without a full-time offer; I didn’t get very much feedback from my boss other than that, because the company is owned by a non-profit hospital, the hiring process requires multiple levels of red tape, and full-time hiring had been put on hold. This may have been a way to avoid confrontation, but he also insisted that I’m an excellent employee and that he wanted to see me land on my feet.

Regardless, it seems that his wish (and mine) may be granted. I have 3 interviews lined up, one of which is a second interview. All three opportunities are fairly different and seem to have immediate pros and cons, but I imagine there are career implications with each with which I would defer to someone more experienced for :

  1. A full-time “consulting” gig that sounds like contract/temp work. This is technically a “business analyst” position where I would go work 12-18 month contracts for large local businesses. Given my skill set, I would likely be focusing more on business processes than technology, but my interviewer said that they like to work with their consultants’ career goals. If there’s downtime between projects, I could either work on in-house projects, or I could get additional education/certification (Scrum Master being the big one). They also pay for off-hours Udemy and Lynda training. Glassdoor reviews are fairly good, with the caveat that salary is below-average for the the equivalent experience.

  2. A 12-month (W-2) contract at an HR data firm as a “data wrangler.” The job description is kind of a mess, with a desire for the candidate to have knowledge of and a willingness to learn a lot of different technologies: SQL, Tableau, Hadoop, SAS, R, and Pig, with the list sprawling outward even from there. I think this is primarily going to be a reporting gig (SQL/Tableau), but the possibility to branch out into more complex data engineering tools is exciting.

  3. A full-time sales data analyst position at an established local manufacturing company. This job mainly revolves around generating reports for the C-levels on sales, industry spend, and pricing. Primarily, I would be working with Salesforce and Govia, a manufacturing ERP, as well as an in-house tool, but I won’t know the details until I sit through the interview process.

I would appreciate any advice to help give me some direction, especially if more than one of these interviews ends in an offer. I would especially appreciate interview tips.


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