Like many web analysts, I pretty much “fell” into this field. Coming from Law and Psychology degrees, it certainly wasn’t a clear path. At the time, I happened to be an assistant, and the web analytics team happened to need “temporary” help. Five years later, here I am: incredibly grateful to have fallen into a field that is fascinating, in high demand, and full of smart, engaged people.
Here’s a great example: the Analysis Exchange. This program brings together “students” of web analytics, mentors to support them, and non-profit organisations needing analytics assistance. (Note: I say “student” because you don’t need to be an actual student.) There are currently 1,000 members, and no open projects. As many needs as there are out there, the analytics community is rushing to fill them.
The fascinating thing about the Analysis Exchange is the skill level of some (probably most!) of the “students”. My first project (and currently only project – see above, no open projects!) went a little like this: Wow, my student is smart. I hope there’s even anything I can help him with! (He later said there was. I hope he wasn’t humouring me…!)
In fact, as Analysis Exchange mentor Jason Thompson commented on Twitter recently, many of the people we look up to in the analytics community are offering their services as students! When I myself first signed up, I was torn between student and mentor. Yes, I currently manage a team of analysts. However, would I be knowledgeable enough in a completely different setting and business model? Not to mention, any good analyst can always use more hands-on experience! So I won’t lie – going in as a student definitely crossed my mind. The basis for my eventual decision to be a mentor was that I wanted to leave the full-on student experience for those interested in web analytics, who may not have access to data or real life examples.
So here’s how our community works. You have a group of people who are in high demand, flat-out at their “real jobs”, with a real life outside of work. Despite this, they volunteer their time for 1) their own continued education and development and 2) to assist others in their growth. Most of these people never really think they’re ready to be a mentor, because no one considers themselves to be an “expert”. We think there’s always more to know, more to learn.
Web Analytics is developing fast. But with these people in our community, there is no worry that we won’t keep up. In fact, we’ll keep pushing, and moving our field even further forward.
PS. You know you’re addicted to Twitter when you have to consciously write “the web analytics community” rather than the “#measure community”.