I’ve been asked quite a few times recently about how I got into the web analytics game and I thought I would set down the tale of getting to my current employer for future reference. I find that the highly circuitous route I’ve taken seems to comfort those who worry that web analytics in an industry of mostly closed doors. Either that or the ridiculous randomness of it distracts them.
In university, I studied Communications in Dublin City University. What I really wanted to do was Journalism, but there was an obligatory foreign language course and I decided against it, for reasons that now escape me. Naturally enough, getting into the first year of Communications, I discovered that there had been a change. and there was now an obligatory foreign language course.
During the course, we studied photography, video, radio, psychology, marketing, cultural studies, IT (my first experience of the internet), French and probably several other modules. My final thesis was based on the influence of colour on mood, hunger, preference etc. Why I graduated feeling a jack of all trades and master of none is beyond me…
Following my graduation, I left my exciting job as a shoe saleswoman in a Dublin store and went to work as an administrator at a pensions and life assurance company which had been acquired by a bank relatively recently. I remained with the company for 5 years, during which time I worked in several roles as I gained experience and moved into the IT department, including testing, business analysis, product development, contingency planning and even a brief stint at coding and design.
Eventually, however, I felt that I had gone as far as I could go without instigating some kind of military coup (or changing departments). At the same time, I visited a friend in Hungary who had an apartment in Budapest and offered to rent me a room. In a move which is completely unlike me, I decided that this was a marvellous idea, flew home, quit my job and jumped on a plane to pastures new with few pennies and less sense.
During my first year in Budapest, I taught a little English off and on to teenagers and business students. This was not something that pleased me, so I decided to look for something else. Looking for jobs without a Hungarian language requirement was not easy, but eventually, I interviewed at a private English-language kindergarten. I had very limited experience with children, especially in groups – though I may have claimed to have worked in a summer camp at some point. The head of the school told me that there were no teaching assistant posts available at the time but that something might become available in September. In the meantime, he had another job for me – the school needed an Access database built for the child/parent/payment information as everything was on Excel sheets in various locations and there was no useful method for inputting information. This I did – and let me tell you, trying to remember where everything is in Access when all the menus are in Hungarian is a challenge I’d rather not repeat.
After a couple of weeks, I handed over the database (which I’m sure was never used again) and learned that the head of the school had resigned. In September, I called the school to inform them that the previous head had hired me. The school decided, without re-interviewing, to give me a job as an assistant teacher – purely because I said I had one (I know what you’re thinking – no, no background check, scary isn’t it).
After a year of being an assistant teacher, I was made a teacher with my own assistant – and how I bathed in that power. Most of the adorable children I had in the first year remained with me in the second year and I obsessed about teaching them to write and identify words. At one point I had four-year-olds teaching the class themselves on rotation. Fabulous stuff.
After two years, however, I felt that I needed a job that didn’t just pay cash under the table and didn’t involve me being covered in bodily excretions on a regular basis. Luckily, one of the parents in the school, who occasionally suffered as a part-time volunteer (even in my class, bless her) swept in to save the day, Her partner (now husband), was the COO of a local web analytics company and agreed to pass on my CV. This led to an interview, which led to a second interview, which led to a call in which I was told that the job was no longer available, which led to a call in which I was told that a role had been created for me. Thus began my life with IndexTools, which was later purchased by Yahoo!. And here I am at Yahoo! Web Analytics.
Beat that for a random route, I dare you.