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I am working as a data analyst in a healthcare company.So far, it has been a little over a month since I have been working at this company. However, there are some parts of the position that are difficult. I know how to program and write queries, but sometimes I don't understand what analytics my co-workers are looking for, so I have to ask many questions to understand what they want me to find. So, there are some grey areas. I understand your job is going to be full of challenges, especially when you are starting off in your career at an entry level position. That being said, how do you determine whether or not if a job position you are currently working in is really a right fit for you?

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    When you ask your coworkers for more details on the analytics they need, do they feel that you ask the right questions on the right topics and they are happy to help you ? or do they think otherwise ? Jul 14 at 0:36
  • They think I ask the right questions on the right topics. This is the first day I am working on queries. My co-worker wanted me to predict and see why there is a decrease in a trend that being remits. However, when I was not able to get all results, so my co-worker was not happy. So, I told him I would talk to the Data Analyst manager to see if we can work together on this issue. After I said that, still he is not happy either because of the issue we're having in our data, and he may be behind in his work in trying to help me get through, or he is not happy with me. Jul 14 at 1:05
  • it depends if you can do your work in given time and also you feel happy after finishing that work than you can do this job and you are fit for this job. Because at the starting everyone feels the same give some time you will learn and get more experience in your area.
    – xml_dope
    Jul 14 at 6:04
  • I am also a data analyst in healthcare! EMRs are so big, and there are so many different workflows to populate, say, an imaging order, that I always put the responsibility of accuracy on the requestor. One of the first things you should ask is, how will you ensure this data is accurate? This isn't quite an answer to your question, but I wanted to lend some encouragement and advice. Have someone validate and make sure there's a paper trail!
    – Aww_Geez
    Jul 28 at 21:58
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Vague and unclear instructions that need clarification are common in the workplace.

In a past job, I was asked to implement an audit logging system for a piece of software that I worked on. What exactly we were logging was not specified and was never specified because it was a regulatory requirement that the product owner did not really understand. So we just logged every database change and that was apparently fine as we never heard about it again. It is a very good week if I don't need to tell some non-technical that their request can describe somewhere between 2 hours and 2 years of work and it isn't uncommon to be told to just do it and see if what I come up with works.

This is not exclusive to technology either. I used to work in investment research and was asked for a report on "everything important" about a stock. My boss complained about me after two days as he had expected a one pager that day. I was writing 20 pages.

Needing for something to be clarified is usually not a deficiency on your part, especially if it is about what specifically they want rather than how to obtain it.

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  • This is the classic "People don't know what they want." The pessimistic spin is "People don't know what they want and complain about what you gave them." It is also possible that what they want is actually mutually exclusive (Everything Important + One Page).
    – Nelson
    Jul 28 at 1:07
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It is completely normal to have anxiety and doubt yourself when you are learning something new and / or starting out at a new job. Even more so when companies do not provide adequate training for the job, or (as Mathew Gaiser pointed out in his answer) proper instructions.

When you ask whether you are a right fit for the job, you are essentially trying to evaluate two things:

  1. Do I have the necessary skill-sets to execute the tasks assigned to me?
  2. Do I enjoy executing these tasks?

In your case, you are perhaps doubting yourself based on the first and wondering if you lack the qualifications or skills required, and whether you can acquire and become proficient in them. Moreover, you feel the added stress of seeking help from colleagues.

If you have received proper training and mentoring, and still feel you aren't proficient at executing your tasks after 6 months to 2 years, then perhaps the job isn't right for you. (I say 6 months to 2 years because not all jobs are the same and some jobs really do require more hands-on experience before you can be good at it - speak with experienced people in your industry to determine how much time it takes to be adequately proficient in your field).

Till then, you can focus on the second part - find out if you enjoy the job and if the future opportunities ahead in your field excite you? (Note also that your employer hired you because they saw potential in you and were satisfied with your qualification).


As for seeking help from colleagues, don't stress about it. It is normal for anyone to sometime feel a bit irked by the demand you may place on them when you ask for their help. Especially if it means they have to divert attention from their tasks. It is unproductive to over analyse their words or actions. Instead, if really necessary, learn to seek direct clarification non-confrontationally.

(Don't let a real or perceived bad experience stop you from asking for help though. If they can't or don't want to help they will tell you so and it doesn't really have to mean anything more - you have the right to ask someone for help and they have the right to say no, for whatever reason.)

Meanwhile, be grateful to those who offer their valuable time to you, and, more importantly, show your appreciation to them by doing something for them too (e.g. by helping them out with their tasks at work or buying them coffee or a meal or even giving them a gift for some occasion).

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    Thank you for all the advice! I really appreciate it. I know starting a new position in your field is always stressful, but all the advice that I have received is very helpful Jul 14 at 2:43
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I've been working in data for a decade plus. What you are dealing with is really common. Data folks are usually there to address business questions using technical tools. Similar to software engineering but structures are often more poorly defined. There's two ways companies usually tackle this. The traditional company way would be to have detailed requirements for everything to avoid miscommunication. A more agile way would be to embed into a team and gain context on the business. Good data analysts can often go on to become product managers via this path (others become more like software engineers). They can often pre-empt the questions before they are even asked. In your case, you shouldn't let challenges like this deter you. The core skills of a very junior analyst is just to execute given clear instructions. A more experienced one can do based on vague instructions and a lead is more an advisor to the business and will pre empt stuff. Also remember that as you become more senior a skill which is equally important is knowing how and when to push back on requests. Maybe in your case the original request was not really feasible and your actual mistake was saying yes to it. Anyway thats the path to becoming more senior. You should seek help and mentoring to progressing down that path.

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You seem more worried about whether the company is happy with you, rather than whether the job is making you happy. In which case the simple answer is to ask your boss "Am I doing OK? Do you have any feedback for me?".

You should have regular reviews, but if you haven't heard much it probably means you're achieving everything that is expected.

It normally takes a few months to become fully productive, so don't worry if you're still asking newbie questions after a month or two (just try not to ask the same questions repeatedly).

Don't worry about unclear requirements, that's at least half of the job, and something that school doesn't prepare you for. My advice is to sketch out two or three options quickly and discuss them. Looking for options means that you don't just go with your first idea, and 'sketches' mean anything that's easy to change so you're not invested in it (and it can't be mistaken for the finished product). You'll probably have suggested somethings they didn't think to ask for but really want.

As to whether the job is right for you, think about what you enjoy/don't enjoy and try to work out why. Take some time to really drill down into your motivations, then talk it over with family and friends.

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