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Strategies to Break Into a Business Analysis Career as a Recent Graduate

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and may not reflect the perspectives of IIBA. 

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Since the inception of the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) in 2003, many professionals have transitioned into business analysis in the middle of their careers. In other words, they were something else before they became business analysis professionals.

The reason for this is that, during the infancy and growth stages of the business analysis profession, nearly no colleges or universities offered a degree in business analysis or had a business analysis curriculum. Many colleges and universities didn’t even offer a business analysis class!

Over the past 20 years, IIBA has done a good job advocating for the profession. They’re getting the word out that people can and do have careers in business analysis. Even though many colleges and universities still don’t offer a degree in business analysis, we’re seeing more classes and curriculums focused on the field.

A few colleges and universities now offer a degree in business analysis. As word gets out and awareness of the possibility of a business analysis career is raised, we see more people breaking into the profession at a younger age, some directly out of college.

Supporting the Next Generation of Business Analysis Professionals

Recognizing this shift, IIBA recently introduced a student membership option to support students enrolled full-time in an accredited college or university.

If that describes you, I encourage you to join the association dedicated to the advancement of the business analysis profession today and put that on your resume. When you graduate a few years later, hiring managers will be impressed that you’ve been a member of IIBA for years.

Hiring managers like to see a person who knows what they want and takes action to achieve their goals. Membership is a way to show you’re driving your career in the direction you want. Active engagement, even as a student, is another way to show that drive.

Stand Out From the Crowd

Hiring managers receive dozens to hundreds of resumes for every job posting they list. Earning the Entry Certificate in Business Analysis (ECBA) is one way to separate yourself from the crowd.

Your resume will have to get through recruiters, human resources personnel, or resume selection software just to get to the hiring manager. Having the ECBA on your resume is one way to make it through. It shows prospective hiring managers your dedication and drive.

Develop a plan to graduate college with your degree and the ECBA.

Gain Experience

While still in college, take an internship in a business analysis team with a local company. If that option isn’t available, look for part-time jobs that will give you business analysis experience.

The job title may not be “Business Analyst,” but focus instead on the duties of the position—do any of them fall under business analysis? If they do, it's great experience. 

Review Your Resume

When you're ready to apply for your first business analysis job, start by reviewing your resume. You may feel that you have no business analysis experience, but there may be some activities you did in prior jobs that have some aspects of business analysis.

If you collaborated with others inside or outside your organization to understand a problem or need and determine a solution to resolve it, you were doing business analysis. If your prior job title was "Programmer/Analyst," then some activities you were doing were likely business analysis.

Highlight that experience on your resume—not only in the position title but also in the description of your work and your achievements in that position.

Perisistence Prevails

It would be amazing if you got your first business analysis job from your first application or interview. Unfortunately, most people aren’t that lucky.

As mentioned earlier, hiring managers receive lots of resumes and applicants for each job posting. Keep going and persist through the “Nos” until you get that “Yes”! Determination is key to your success. 

Final Thoughts

Here are some actions you can take, starting as a college student and continuing until you secure your first business analysis job:

  • Join IIBA early
  • Get your ECBA while still in college
  • Gain experience in the business analysis field
  • Rewrite your resume to highlight your business analysis experience
  • Stay persistent
Explore IIBA student membership now to learn more about this thrilling career path.
About the Author
Jared Gorai, Director, Chapters & Membership Engagement, International Institute of Business Analysis™, IIBA®

Aaron Whittenberger is an Agile Business Analyst for an insurance company in Cincinnati, Ohio, with over 10 years of business analysis experience. He is part of a Business Analysis Center of Excellence (BACoE) in his company, where he is currently working with other business analysis leaders to develop standards of practice, a BA Blog, and a BA Knowledge Center for the community of 85 business analysts. Aaron is the Founding President of the Bluegrass IIBA Chapter and a 2016 inductee into the Bluegrass Business Analysis Hall of Fame. He is a champion for IIBA, business analysis as a profession, and the recognition of its practitioners. He is an avid business analyst, blogger, mentor, trainer, and presenter.

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