One of the pillars of employee development here at Seilevel is a robust mentorship program. Everyone at the company is assigned a mentor within a few weeks of starting. Your mentor is tasked with ensuring that you are getting the opportunities you need to grow as an employee, solicits feedback from your peers and project teammates, and guides you through the promotion process.
I have recently become a mentor to several new hires here at Seilevel, and it has quickly become one of my favorite things about going to work each day. It’s thrilling to see how quickly my mentees have progressed from being wide-eyed newbies to competent business analysts and product managers. While everyone has their own style and progresses at their own pace, there are a few areas that stand out as being key to making that transition for any entry-level business analyst here at Seilevel, or really anyone starting out their career in the professional world.
The first area is learning all of the little things that add professionalism and polish to your day to day activities. My colleague Betsy Stockdale wrote a fantastic blog post a few years ago about the skills that many new hires (including myself, when I started at Seilevel a year out of college) lack on their first day. I encourage anyone just starting out their professional career to read it. The things Betsy mentions–time management, email etiquette, adding polish to documentation, how to take good meeting minutes, appropriate dress code–are all incredibly important, and separates Joe College from Joe Great Business Analyst.
Effective and early communication is another area in which I’ve noticed my mentees develop. While it comes intuitively for some, others–myself included–need to be taught what effective communication in a corporate setting looks like. I could write a whole blog post on effective communication, but for an RA, I think the biggest thing to focus on is being proactive–communicating early and often. Most RA’s learn from experience and from observation how to word emails tactfully, how to lead meetings gracefully, and how to conduct themselves in front of a client, but the first thing they’ll be asked to do is communicate effectively with their project team members. One of the lessons I have tried to teach my mentees is “when in doubt, send an email.” If you’re not sure whether you should send an email to your project lead about where you are on a task, send the email. If a task is taking you longer than you thought it might, let them know as soon as that thought hits you. If you’re nearing the end of the day and there was an expectation that you were going to finish something, let them know where you are with it and when you think it will be done. While these might seem obvious, it’s important to keep in mind that your project lead might have different expectations on how long something might take and when it would be done. Discovering this misunderstanding early can help mitigate a frustrating situation down the line. It also instills trust in you as a competent, reliable employee.
In my next blog post, I’ll talk about some of the more intangible aspects of progressing from a newbie BA straight out of college to a seasoned veteran. Stay tuned!