"How I Went from" is an ongoing blog series that highlights our employees' different journeys to InterWorks. The results are pretty diverse, but each story is special in its own right.
For as long as I can remember, I have always loved talking in front of groups of people. Whether it was giving the speech at my high school graduation or taking a public speaking course at Hamilton College, the thrill of having the attention of the room and sharing a story with an audience is something I’ve enjoyed. I think that’s why I really like my current position at InterWorks. Every day, I get to share stories with clients about what matters to them: improving their business through the power of data.
My story is part of our ongoing “How I Went from _____ to InterWorks Consultant” blog series. Take a look at the original “Life as an InterWorks Consultant” post for a full list of other interesting stories from several InterWorks employees.
Volunteering on the Islands
Shortly after graduating from college I volunteered with the Student Conservation Association. I flew across the country from my home in upstate NY to Maui, HI where I worked in the Visitors Centers at Haleakalā National Park.
Above: Me standing in front of the Haleakalā National Park welcome sign.
On a daily basis, I was able to interact with people from all over the world! My favorite part of the day? Leading a talk at the summit. I can’t really explain the feeling of being at the top of the island at 10,023 feet, in a small room with all eyes on me. The opportunity to share all that I had learned in Maui while having a positive influence on the visitor’s experience within the park didn’t feel like a job. It was really a privilege.
Above: My sister Caitlin (right) and myself (left) at the summit of Haleakalā.
Back to the Mainland, Finding a Career
I returned home after my four months of volunteering was over and struggled to find the right niche for a career path. As a math major at Hamilton, while I wasn’t the one with the highest GPA, nothing gave me more satisfaction than completing my math homework. It wasn’t until after college when I was in my first job that I came to understand what my advisor would tell me all the time during office hours:
“I don’t need to have the highest GPA in the subject to major in it. I should be a math major because I’m passionate about it, and it gives me a sense of accomplishment. In other words, follow your passion.”
Above: Hamilton College graduation with my advisor, Richard Bedient.
By studying math, I was learning how to think, analyze and use data to make decisions – something I didn’t realize until I was out in the real world. I took a job working for a local college, which afforded me the opportunity to complete a master’s degree, but I spent too much time working alone behind a desk. I wasn’t feeding my passion for working with people.
Getting Into Data
I would tell people that I wanted a job where I just got to talk all of the time. I didn’t really care about what. I just wanted to be out there, possibly traveling, telling a story, and in some way, helping people with what I had to share. I took a step towards accomplishing this goal when I took a position working for an organization that supports the charter schools in Albany, NY. I was the Data Analyst for the network of schools, which required me to create reports and present them to school leaders. During this time, I discovered Tableau. I found my passion for taking data that people might find intimidating or unclear and turning it into reports that they could use and look forward to receiving!
Above: The New York State Capitol in Albany.
In order for me to be successful in my role with supporting the charter schools, I needed help with managing all of the data I was collecting – enter InterWorks. I began working with Tim Costello. Tim not only created a database for me, but showed me ways to look at the data that I never would have considered. I was the only person in my office working with data, so having Tim to chat with was both helpful and fun! Tim treated me, a customer within a very small organization, with the level of commitment and service that you’d expect if you were a very large account. I enjoyed working with Tim. Though my data analysis responsibilities were only required about twice a year, I found ways to glean from Tim’s expertise in analysis to provide my report users with more frequent and better information.
Rediscovering My Passion for People and Data
Because of the nature of my work, I didn’t spend as much time as I would have liked on data analysis or working with people to help them better understand and use the reports I was sharing. After some self-reflection, I realized I needed to get back on track and answer my true calling. That calling is to be in front of people as much as possible, sharing my passion for using data. In a couple of phone calls with Tim last year (you’ll find that your InterWorks consultants become friends), he suggested that I may be a good fit for the IW Team. I balked at the idea initially because I did not have a “tech” background, but Tim stressed that it was my passion and excitement for data and working with people that makes me a good fit.
I had met several members of the InterWorks team at a Tableau Customer Conference and recalled just how friendly and outgoing everyone was. What really stood out for me was that the InterWorks team didn’t just work for paychecks; they too were passionate about helping clients and exceeding expectations. I wanted to be a part of that – to have a job where I could make a difference and work with people who were just as excited about data as I am.
Joining the InterWorks Team
Well here I am! I’m a Business Intelligence Analyst for InterWorks! I am doing everything I’ve ever wanted to do: traveling, presenting to large groups of people, teaching people new things and learning every day. I get to work with a group of fun, passionate and incredibly smart people. Best of all, I have the opportunity to help people make sense of their data! I tell clients that I work with that I’ve been on the other side, and that I wanted a job where I could work with passionate people who are constantly working to make themselves better. It’s my dream job. I remind folks that yes, dreams can come true.
Above: (Left to right) Lindsay Kedy, Tiffany Spaulding, Kate Treadwell and myself at the IW holiday party.