How to Use Professional Groups to Find a Business Analyst Job 2021 (New Grad)
Part 4 of a New Graduate’s Guide to Becoming a Data/Business Analyst
If you are reading this in 2021, you may ask yourself, how can I network in a pandemic? If I can’t leave the house for fear of contracting a deadly virus, how can I possibly network?
If you’re a minority in the tech field of any kind, use it.
How to find professional groups
Use smaller job boards — the smaller, the better
If you’re a minority in the tech field of any kind, use your identity to find professional groups.
Are you a woman? Gay? What about Black? Okay, well maybe, Asian? Do you live in a city or near one? (Seriously. Any city will do.) Do you code in Python? Do you code in R?
There is a network of people who share your skills and/or identities, and they want to help you find a job. They have Slack channels, Meetup groups, websites, and even Facebook groups.
I’ll include a list below, but first, this is a powerful way to use them:
Find jobs through the job boards of professional groups
This advice is probably very 2020, but I’m going to go ahead and give it because networking through these groups literally led me to my job:
- Almost every professional group has a Slack channel and/or a job board where members posted jobs and events. The ones without a Slack will usually have an email list and a website, so hop on those resources.
- Find the #jobs channel in the Slack group. (It may be called something like #job-offers, such as in RLadies)
- Join the city-specific channel, if it exists, for good measure.
- Check the channel every day, and if you find something that interests you, message the job poster directly — just a short message saying that you are interested in the job and that you’d like to learn more about the organization and/or position.
- Usually the job poster will indicate if the job is at their company; if not, ask if they can put you in touch with someone who is.
I literally got 1/3 of my initial HR interviews this way. Do not underestimate this as a way to get interviews. The opportunities will likely be few but high quality.
Participate in events and reach out to the speakers afterwards
Full disclosure: I didn’t do this, mostly because I was too scared and didn’t know how for a long time. However, it seems like a great way to network and I will definitely do this in the future.
So, in addition to Slack groups, I mentioned Meetup groups. Right now, many groups are holding their events online! Go to them.
There’s usually a wide variety — everything from talks on how to get a data science job to Jupyter notebook tutorials to online networking events. I even joined a journal club where we read deep learning machine learning papers.
After you go to the events, particularly talks, reach out to the speakers on LinkedIn with a connection request saying that you really enjoyed the talk along with a specific question. Maybe you had some thoughts on their talk or maybe you just want to understand how they became a data scientist, or both. Mention how you know them, and phrase it as a short question. If you like, go ahead and request a short 30-minute (or other specific length) informational interview right then, or establish some rapport with them.
Here’s an example:
I really enjoyed the talk on machine learning basics that you gave today at the PyLadies lightning talks event! I was a little confused about how decision trees work in your business context. I also noticed that you work at Spotify as a data scientist, and I would love to learn more about your work as I’m hoping to become a data scientist myself. Would you be willing to chat with me for about 30 minutes about machine learning and your work at Spotify?
I will say this again: People in these groups want to help you. They want you, and all others who share one or more of their identities, to succeed in tech. Therefore, they will be more open to networking than almost any other person in your network or potential network.
How to Find Professional Groups
Keep in mind that many groups are location-specific, but many are not. I would recommend joining both kinds. If you live in one place but are hoping to relocate to another, join groups in both locations. Search for Meetup groups and Slack channels.
They can be a little tricky to track down, so I’d recommend searching “[identity] in tech group”, substituting “tech” for data, Python, STEM, Tableau, data visualization, machine learning — anything you can think of. For “identity”, substitute things like “woman”, “black”, and “Denver”. Yes, for professional groups, a specific city is a valid minority identity.
Personally, I first found out about these groups through initial networking contacts.
Here’s an incomplete list of tech groups/resources that I’ve found. Most of the groups cover overlapping identities, so I would check them all out and join if one of your identities is aligned with the group.
- Women in Data Science
- Data Circles (originally a Women in Data Science chapter, but now doing its own gender-inclusive thing)
- Women in Tech
- RLadies New York
- Data Science Salon
- Data Umbrella (NYC, geared toward people of color)
- Ladies Storm Hackathon
- Out in Tech
Black and/or POC:
- A list of 15 tech organizations that help Black people thrive in tech
- Digital Diversity Network
- All Star Code
- Black Female Founders
- Black Founders
- Black Girls Code
- Blacks in Technology
- Black Tech Nation
- Black Tech Unplugged
- Black Women Tech Talk
- The Hidden Genius Project
- NewMe Accelerator
If you know about other groups, please comment or message me on LinkedIn, and I’ll add it to the post.
Use small job boards — the smaller, the better.
Honestly, I don’t know why this works, but it does.
Take the time to find and apply for jobs on smaller job boards, and it will pay off.
I kept a thorough spreadsheet of every job I applied to, and I know for a fact that only 1 out of 52 jobs I applied to on Indeed or LinkedIn ever resulted in a phone screen, and I wasn’t even interested in that job. The rest of my interviews came from networking, email lists, and smaller job boards.
In some cases, the jobs were also posted on LinkedIn, but the interviews came when I found the job on a different platform. There is a spot in every application where you indicate how you found the job, so be sure to fill that out.
A potentially clever strategy could be to find a job on LinkedIn and then search for it to see if it is also posted on a different, smaller website, and then say that you found it through that smaller website. Try it and let me know what happens — seriously, I’m curious.
Here is a link to a GitHub gist that contains a list of all of the job boards and email lists that I found while searching for a job. If a link is broken or you know about another board, please reach out in whatever you like so that I can add to it.
Since I was also looking for political tech jobs (because I majored in Politics as well CS in college), I’ve included politics job boards/opportunities, which often include technology jobs.
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A New Graduate’s Guide to Becoming a Data/Business Analyst
Part 1: How to Become a Business Analyst 2021
Part 2: Skills and Projects You Need to Get a Data/Business Analyst Position
Part 3: How to Network and Use LinkedIn to Find a Job
Part 4: How to Use Professional Groups to Find a Business Analyst Job 2021
Part 5: How to Keep Your Sanity During Your Job Search