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Opportunities Disguised as Roadblocks


On May 26th I first met the world of Collibra, Data Governance and First San Francisco Partners (FSFP) as a summer intern. Like many people beginning a new career amidst COVID, the path leading to FSFP ran me into more than a few roadblocks.

A Burgeoning Interest in Data

Since college, I studied and worked in areas I would categorize as ‘data-adjacent,’ where the impact and conclusions drawn from data could be found but lacked the connections to create a real understanding of the information. I was exposed to excellent research during college but had never experienced collecting and analyzing raw data.

During my time in the Peace Corps, I completed some simple data reporting on the progress of our English teaching projects: grade progression, test scores and hours logged on specific topics were certainly informative but still lacked the depth and analysis to draw deeper conclusions I was interested in learning about.

Huck in Uzbekistan, serving in the Peace Corps (2018-2020)

At that time, I began to pursue graduate school thinking the clearest path through the trees was to pursue an education in data science, focusing on math and science, two areas of education that have terrified me since grade school. Unfortunately, March 2020 brought substantial changes for everyone, and my hopes for completing graduate school came to an abrupt halt. Not long after, I found myself back home and living with my parents for the first time since high school.

Fortunately, I found work at a data-centric software and consulting company with a deep passion for helping credit unions grow and thrive. My hunger for deeper involvement in communicating data was fed for the first time. I explained concepts to people at a level I more fundamentally understood, and client decisions were informed and based on demonstrable data.

This is when FSFP came into play. Although I had opportunities to work with data on a more fundamental level, I wanted to go deeper and handle the details of data analysis, not only the conclusions drawn from it.

In my internship interview with FSFP’s Collibra Practice Lead and Engagement Partner Sarah Rasmussen, I heard everything I had been waiting to hear. I was going to learn to manage metadata, develop my technical skills in a Collibra crash course and finally work with the bits of information that always seemed so foreign to me.

The Learning Process

In my first few weeks as an intern, I was overwhelmed by the amount I had to learn but was thankful to feel supported in my role. I recall a coworker messaging me during a client meeting to explain all the acronyms they were throwing around and their significance to the project. It was through the support of my coworkers, having the opportunity to work with clients from the start and having access to the Collibra learning process (supported by FSFP) that I was able to come through with an understanding of the data and the technical capabilities to work it as I have always wanted to.

Near the end of my internship, I presented the key metadata collected (description, metrics, business terms, underlying data, etc.) to my internship-assigned client in a business-critical report. During this meeting, the significance of the training I received over the summer came full circle. I had enough of an understanding to walk through the navigation of Collibra and explain the connections between different data assets. I suggested changes to the report informed by the training modules I had completed and the consistent cycle of input and testing I completed with other team members. Until then, I had always been on the other side of this process. In a matter of weeks, I was beginning to understand how to approach the problems I had seen before but with a new level of expertise.

Huck spending time with family for Christmas

The Road Ahead

Based on my experience at FSFP, I cannot wait to see what the future holds. I have learned so much, and I know I have only scratched the surface. I am thankful for the education in and practice of metadata management and the support FSFP has shown me along the way. As I march forward into a world I previously only had partial access to, I am confident others who follow as interns with FSFP will do the same.

Article contributed by FSFP’s Huck Sachse-Hofeimer

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