It’s not often you hear someone say, “I just love data. I love making sure it is formatted precisely, it’s organized, it’s re-portable, it’s complete. It makes my spine tingle.”  If you do hear someone say that, I have a job for them. I have only ever heard two people say this to me and I hired both of them. On the spot.

This is what data does to me.  It’s weird. However, this weird obsession with neat, tidy data and building structures to house, maintain and share the data is my passion. That’s even more weird. How does one become passionate about data? This is how it played out for me.

It began with “The Conundrum” (I learned that word in college)

We are all looking for that perfect role. The dream job that checks all of the boxes; it motivates us, fulfills us, it challenges us and enhances the demands of our personal lives and fits the role of “our passion”. But what about those of use who graduate with a business degree? We obviously don’t have a specific passion, right? How can I possibly aspire to find my dream job when I don’t even know what looks, feels or tastes like? Ah, The Conundrum. Yes, I enjoy my work, yes I excel at my job, yes I care about my colleagues, but there is no passion – I am simply collecting a pay check, stuck in The Conundrum.

I found “The Panacea” (I just learned that word, thanks Google)

For years I meditated with purpose. Selfishly and with abandon, show me my path, give me my purpose, create my passion. Voila. Eight years in the making, the answer came and just like a database lit with integrity – this report made sense.  Everything I had been exposed to in my professional life had led me to the front door of my dream, my weird data-induced dream.

My Passion Had No Road Map

Shutting my eyes as hard as could to meditate (which is really the opposite of what you should do when you meditate) I began to journey back, during this journey it became clear to me. There was no road map, which made this discovery difficult.

My first employer out of college, saw something in me, my killer ability to grow and up-all-night desire to learn.  He bought me a book called Crystal Reporting for Dummies and this is where it all started. I just didn’t know it at the time. This book and related work, fostered inspiration and excitement in my soul. I loved this work and I took this love with me to my next career.

Outside of my 9 to 5 I followed an instinct, an instinct to learn a new language.  This instinct, let’s call him Fred, was hyper-active. Fred was on a hamster wheel inside my head. Round and round he went on the hamster wheel, all the while shouting, ” learn another language, learn another language”. The first time I heard Fred I thought, “okay, how about we learn some German, Ich bin Eine Frau”. But I realized later Fred was telling me to learn a new coding language.  Thanks Fred.  So, I began taking advantage of e-learning platforms like CodeAcademy and even made it through most of Hardard EdX CS 50.

Coding led to more database knowledge, website design, api understanding, etc. And when opportunity met experience met passion, I was ready to roll up my sleeves and create my ultimate dream job – Database designer and data integrity wizard.  That’s not my title, but only because folks wouldn’t quite take me seriously if it were.

Thinking Outside the Box

Why wasn’t it clearer to me sooner?  Because I didn’t think that it was possible to live my passion, I wasn’t thinking outside the box.  I didn’t have a formal programming education, I live in remote Montana town, the opportunities for database design just aren’t there for me – is what I though.  Long before I created WIM Tracking, a friend asked me what my dream job looked like.  I pondered and with ease answered, building custom database systems. That was not something that I had previously thought about. Now it all makes sense.

My weird fascination for database design and meticulous data perfection was and is my passion. Congratulations Jena, you are living your passion. Should I ever forget that, this post will be here to remind me.

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