WHAT IS YOUR NAME AND POSITION?
Kim Gerst, Data Analyst Consultant at Best Buy
WHAT'S YOUR BACKGROUND?
I have been working with software teams as a developer, business analyst and data analyst for over 15 years. For most of those years, I've also been working as a mother to two wonderful girls.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME AN IT PROFESSIONAL?
My first memory of doing something "cool" with computers was working my way through the Beginner's BASIC manual that came with the TI-99 that my parents bought when I was in elementary school. I was elated when I succeeded in making a colored square blink and move around on the screen. I still get that feeling when I try a new programming language or learn a new tool and accomplish something useful with it. I find that feeling a bit addicting and I think it is why I was drawn to the work I do.
PLEASE WALK ME THROUGH YOUR DAY, WHAT DO YOU DO AT YOUR COMPANY?
Right now I'm working on a product team developing REST APIs. My day starts with a team standup where we check in on the progress that the team has made on their tasks. I typically spend a good portion of my day brainstorming product features, reviewing development work or problem solving with my team. I usually also spend some of the day writing scripts to perform data analysis tasks (using Splunk and R at the moment). An example of the type of analysis I might do would be to see how clients are using the APIs that we build to look for clues about how to make them more useful.
CAN YOU SEE YOURSELF IN TEN YEARS DOING THE SAME THING YOU DO NOW?
Yes and no. I absolutely see myself working on a team to build something. I'm certain that what I'm building and how I'm building it will be very different from today. I think I'll be disappointed if I'm not in a role that allows me to be hands on and doing at least some of the building myself.
WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU EVER RECEIVED?
Do something that you enjoy and be true to yourself.
WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU’VE LEARNED IN THE LAST YEAR?
In the past couple of months, I've started playing with an Arduino while helping one of my daughters' Destination Imagination teams. The first project we worked on was to wire up an LED and write a program to make it blink. I learned that the elation that I felt getting that blinking square on my TI-99 pales in comparison to what I felt when my daughter and her friends saw the little light on their Arduino board blinking in response to a program that they'd written.
AND WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?
I want to tinker more because learning new stuff is fun. It was hard to find time to do that when my kids were younger. Now they are old enough to do it with me, so I have a long list of projects that I want to try with them.
IF YOU COULD DO ONE THING DIFFERENTLY, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Over the years, I've found myself in situations that I did not enjoy. Sometimes I stayed in them longer than I should have. I wish I'd had the confidence to move on to the next thing sooner. It has always turned out to be better in the long run.