On working as a business analyst

A guest post by UC CEISMIC Business Analyst Andrew Dean.

'The real world'. It's one of those phrases that people use to tell me that I live my life elsewhere, that as a University student I live in the pages of some book, some representation that will dissipate the moment I'm capped. 'You're a Humanities student, what do you have to offer?'

Humanities students have heard this all before. At school, a Science teacher told me that 'we didn't get to the moon on Shakespeare'. I remember being asked how studying Virginia Woolf helps anyone. My standard answer, while I was a student, was that 'utility' is only one letter away from 'futility': if we spend our whole lives asking about what is useful we'll end up doing nothing.

Working as a 'business analyst' for UC CEISMIC has helped me to go some way toward actually responding to that question. Business analysts examine the requirements of a particular project on behalf of an organization, and, despite the name, it is quite common for people from the Humanities to be employed in these roles for both government departments and private enterprise.

In my role I have been assigned to major organizations, helping to expedite the transfer of documentation and other media that will be of interest both to the general public and to future researchers. What I have to offer is a tradition of sustained reflection and a commitment to open access and working together. These combine in the form of UC CEISMIC, which is helping to lay the theoretical foundations for rebuilding both buildings and communities. Humanists bring the long view to UC CEISMIC: at a time when earthquake predictors are getting air-time, I am part of an organization that is not promising easy answers, but instead beginning an inclusive, collaborative, reflective and ultimately more substantial journey.

At a personal level, too, I've found working as a BA rewarding. The skills I learnt as an undergraduate, such as critical analysis, written communication, and problem solving, have clear applications outside the University. While as a student I wrote essays rather than scope documents, I have found that the learning curve is not too steep. Extending sideways, in fact, has been a pleasant surprise.