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How to Break Into the Business Analyst Field

by Michael Mageean

Every software development project needs a business analyst. According to the website of technology consultants Capco, business analysts "bridge the gap between user-functionality and system developers." Every software project runs the risk that the development team, which consists of developers, coders and project managers, might create an amazing piece of software but fail to meet the client’s needs or provide the right functionality for the end user. The business analyst ensures that the team knows what the client wants and that the project stays focused on the client's business needs.

Training for the Role

You don't need to be the most proficient software developer or coder on the project team to become a business analyst but you do need to have a deep understanding of how software can solve real-world business problems and add value to a firm's operations. As a result, you will need software development training to gain an understanding of how an application is put together, how a project is managed and how different software development methodologies work.

Gaining Experience

If you're still in college, you should apply for internships on commercial software projects. Large corporations like Intel host internship programs for college students. It's called Intel's Early Internship for Software Engineering (IRISE). Programs like these will give you real-world experience working on software development projects and the role the business analyst plays. Another option is to get experience as a freelance software developer. You can track down websites where freelancers post their skills and browse for software projects requirements posted by businesses. If your work is effective, the business or client likely will be happy to write a letter of recommendation for you to help you get a paying job as a business analyst.

Perfecting Communications Skills

A business analyst has to master communications skills. Jeff Patton, a leading author on software development, said that part of today's business analysts' role is listening closely to users to understand what they want. and then reporting that information back to your software team.

Getting That First Full-time Job as a Business Analyst.

If neither your internship nor freelance work lead directly to a role as a business analyst, you can still upload the portfolio of software applications you created GitHub. This portfolio of applications will be critical when applying directly for roles as a business analyst. If it’s good enough, it will get you an interview with a hiring manager and during the interview you can explain how you used your business analyst skills to meet your clients’ expectations to provide them with the software solution they wanted.

About the Author

Currently working in Dublin, Michael Mageean started out writing for Belfast-based “Fortnight” magazine in 1998. Recently he has written for Verify Recruitment’s technology blog, newsletter and scripted Verify's radio show, "New Job Radio." He trained as a journalist with the London school of Journalism in 2012. He is a graduate of the University of Ulster.

Photo Credits

  • Michael Blann/Lifesize/Getty Images