This is a draft chapter of a guide I’m writing to help people hired as the first “data person” in an organization. To make sure you don’t miss any new drafts or the release of the full guide, sign up to my mailing list.
A caution for newbies
If you’re still looking for a job as a first data hire, then I suggest you don’t read this book. Rather find the job and come back to this later. Depending on how you bought this book, consider asking for a refund!
This guide is meant to address challenges with being the first data hire, and will not touch on the many benefits. I worry that if you only have this as a context for the day to day role, that you might be put off entirely. This is not my aim! Working this role is really rewarding, but my aim with this book is make the hard parts easier to deal with. This requires talking a lot about the hard parts.
If you can remember that this is looking specifically at the challenges and how to address them, reading this may actually help you a lot in interviewing and negotiating offers to make sure you get some of the stuffed built in early. If that’s the case, keep the book and don’t ask for the refund :).
I’m assuming you work in a fairly good environment, where difficulties arise from the general nature of people just being people. I won’t be covering how to deal with hostile work environments, because I really am not sure what advice to give.
What I can offer is that you try squeeze as much out your current job as possible, and get out as fast as you can.
You can have a look at http://www.askamanager.org/. The advice given here for dealing with tough situations looks pretty solid to me. It can also help a lot to see what other people deal with to help you feel less isolated, and more confident that you are not crazy and yes, you deserve better.
Treat this like Stack Overflow
This advice is based on my direct and indirect experience. Your own experience is 100% unique to you. When reading this advice, I expect much of this won’t work for you if directly applied. If you catch yourself thinking “Yes, but that won’t work for me because…” or “But I don’t have…” – then that’s the cue to rather think about how it COULD work. What element of this advice can you extract and modify for your own use? Think of this as the Stack Overflow of my brain – copy, paste and edit as needed :).
How to read this book
Every chapter is self contained. I expect that different parts of it will be useful when you come to some tricky situation. If you can read everything and walk away with one or two little gems to nudge your career in ever so slightly more rewarding direction, then I’ll consider this whole exercise worth the effort!
Your role has a lot of challenges, but I believe you can slowly tackle them all, one at a time and get better year by year. Together we’ll take some of your data-related problem-solving skills and use those to strengthen your career.
With that out of the way, let’s get going!