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My Bachelor's Degree is in Business Administration. I never really had an interest in Statistics, Finance or Economics as I was keen on looking for a job in Marketing / Management. To this end I got a job as a Management Consultant at a Boutique Consulting firm that specializes in marketing and brand strategies. I quit 18 months later due to personal reasons related to certain coworkers. After this I found a new job at a Market Research company as a consultant / international salesman, and while the job wasn't completely in line with my previous job, it wasn't anything too difficult for me to handle. I was forced to quit 6 months later due to mishaps with my work visa, and now I found a job at yet another consulting company.

Unlike my previous jobs however, this job requires extensive knowledge and skill in coding (SAS and Python in particular) as clients are mostly financial institutions that depend on my company to develop custom credit scorecards for them. I was already second guessing myself during my interview and flat out told the interviewer that I had almost no background in statistics and absolutely know nothing about coding, and yet they hired me anyway. Now that I'm on my first project, I have no idea what I'm supposed to be doing. None of my coworkers are giving me any form of guidance, and though my supervisor doesn't really give me any tasks that I can't manage, there's no way I'd feel comfortable with sitting around on my hands doing nothing. I'm devoting almost all of my spare time to learning to code in SAS and Python, but progress is slow.

All of my superiors (including my boss) are well aware of the fact that I have next to no knowledge of coding and statistics, which is why I have no inkling of an idea as to why I was hired for this particular job.

TLDR: I was hired by a company that is fully aware of the fact that I have no experience or knowledge in their field. What should I do?

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  • It may be easier to make a BA a part programmer, than make a programmer a part BA. What I would say is that knowing additional skills can be handy. Slow progress can be frustrating, but it's probably worthwhile to give it a shot, and see if you enjoy this kind of work. From your description, I don't think it's very likely they'd keep you on if you're not willing to do those kinds of things. But the ball is in your court. Mar 25 '20 at 7:22
  • I'd just work on learning python. The basics aren't hard to grasp once you get a feel of how programming works. Stick to one tutorial series, complete it, then do another tutorial series. Doesn't matter if they both cover similar things, you'll learn by repetition. Never go to your boss with a "no idea what to do" attitude, always have a proposal ready.
    – kraligor
    Mar 25 '20 at 15:45
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Now that I'm on my first project, I have no idea what I'm supposed to be doing. None of my coworkers are giving me any form of guidance, and though my supervisor doesn't really give me any tasks that I can't manage, there's no way I'd feel comfortable with sitting around on my hands doing nothing. I'm devoting almost all of my spare time to learning to code in SAS and Python, but progress is slow.

I cannot stress enough that you should speak with your manager and work with them to lay out a 30/60/90 plan for you based on your current skill level and where you need to be. If you're easily managing your workload, talk to your manager and see if there is some other work you could be picking up. Learning a skill you didn't come with when you got hired is doing something. But I think you need more clarification on what level you need to get to.

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You have a job you don't completely know how to do. With respect, that doesn't make you any different from most knowledge workers. Seriously. And, guess what, this will happen over and over again during your career. Continuous learning is, I believe, the most important thing that makes knowledge workers successful.

The good news for you: your supervisor and co-workers know you have a lot to learn to do this job. They wouldn't have hired you if they wanted somebody who already knew how to do it perfectly. They are willing to invest in you.

Your action plan: get yourself trained. Write up a training plan for yourself. Include the reading of books, the doing of tutorials, the going to training classes and conferences, the reviewing of your work by an expert, and so forth.

Show your training plan to your supervisor and ask for advice and suggestions. Don't treat your plan as a demand (it's not "gimme money to go a conference").

And, please keep this in mind: when people are new to a particular kind of work, they often bring a perspective that helps them do the work better.

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If you want to keep that job, you need to work backwards from what the tasks are, and what skills are required to successfully complete those tasks. Once you know what you need to learn, create a phased learning plan where after 1 month you will have learned A, B and C and will be able to contribute to project type 1, and after 3 months you will have learned D and E and will be able to help with project type 2. The beginnings are always hard, but you will gain more confidence as you make a habit of improving along those skillsets you need.

The alternative, of course, is to just look for a project which can be completed with the skills you have, in this or another company.

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