I loved math (especially algebra), being creative, and could never really narrow my focus in on one profession. So, I went to college... make that 3 colleges... changed my major a dozen times and finally graduated with a Bachelor's of Science in Kinesiology after some 5+ years of study. I wanted to be a collegiate strength coach... but it turned out I had more fun creating and editing lifting plans in a MS Excel workbook than I did on actually bossing the athletes around. So I changed directions again.
Over the next 10 years, I worked as an administrative assistant, an office manager, worked in sales support, hospitality, sales, account management, retail... but the one consistent pattern I found time and time again was this innate satisfaction with improving procedures, modifying SOP's, and creating shortcuts to reduce workload. I taught myself to create mail merges and inventory tracking; when a job required me to request every report or data summary I needed from another team, I asked them to teach me to pull my own raw data to save them the time; when teammates complained about the time it took them to complete weekly analysis, I learned how to write macros to cut their time by 75%. (I am a nerd, and I love it!)
It was sometime in 2015 that I remember telling a coworker that I wish there was a job where I could just problem solve in data and create tools for a living. But, what would I call that? How would I quantify it in a job search? In January 2018, I landed myself a role as an Inventory Analyst for Target headquarters after hearing amazing things about what a great employer they were and hoped maybe I'd find my forever home there. It only took a couple months until I found it... there was a team who's full time job was to create tools to reduce workload, improve data accuracy, supply analytical reporting... and they got paid to do it!
For almost three years, I have held that dream of someday being on that team close to my heart and confidently on my lips to anyone who'd listen. I created tools and analysis for myself and others, I started my own club of Excel nerds just like me to help develop new processes and tools to help our entire pyramid. Every morning in my Start Today journal, I've declared that 10 years from now I would be on that team. Every. Damn. Morning.
Then, in August of this year, 5 months into the pandemic, a job opening was posted and I applied within hours. Five gruelingly painful weeks went by without a word on if I was a candidate until finally a representative from HR contacted me to schedule my interviews. After my three interviews, another 2+ weeks went by without a word until I finally saw a message come across my screen one morning from the hiring manager, "Hi. Are you free to talk?". The second I hit send on "Yes", the Zoom call came in and my heart raced. Barely breathing, I heard him thanking me for my patience, for participating in the interviews and all I thought was "fuck, I didn't get it".
That is, until he changed his tone and said "we'd like to offer you the job" and smiled. I distinctively remember (and immediately regretted) responding with "Shut up! Are you serious?" *Not one of my finer moments, but also very authentically me none the less* Luckily, he laughed and doubled down on his conviction and I said "Yes!" with almost as much enthusiasm as I did when Jay proposed. The rest of the call was a blur but there it was... my dream job, wrapped up in a bow, and presented virtually on a silver platter.
Yesterday marked the beginning of Week 3 in my new role... a beginner, learning to code and to take my problem solving and analytics to a level I never imagined. Each day is new and filled with things I don't understand yet which allows fear to creep into my home office but I fight it every day by focusing on the present moment. I focus on the jobs I was turned down for that would have directed me away from here. I remind myself to believe in myself because my whole team already believes in me just the way I am.
What a year...40 years old and finally landing the dream job I always wanted but never knew it existed until recently. Starting fresh, stepping into the unknown, and feeling ever so grateful for the wonderful opportunity to work in something I am so passionate about. It may not be a popular opinion, but it's another spectacular gift of 2020.
Dreaming in Code,