A Whimsical Conversation About Simulated On The Job Training

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Meet John who has worked in corporate America for nearly 8 years after graduating College with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. He serves as a sales associate working to convert leads into sales opportunities. Over the past 3 years John has become motivated to grow his career into becoming a Business Analyst on the Decision Sciences team. In preparation for applying to openings on this team John has completed numerous online analytics training courses. Unfortunately, when John applied for a role on this team he never got selected for an interview. Instead his application was declined due to lack of analytic experience.

John was deeply frustrated by this outcome and reached out to a friend; Sebastian, who’s on an analytics team at a different company. Sebastian immediately sympathized with John as he has seen similar situations play out at his company. Sebastian recounted countless candidates that had invested large sums of money into analytics education and training only to be declined due to lack of experience.

Sebastian however mentioned an interesting alternative option for gaining the experience necessary to get hired; simulated on the job training.

We pick up their conversation below:

John: What is simulated on the job training?

Sebastian: First let me state what is on the job training. It’s basically when someone learns how to apply skills, concepts, and techniques while actively working within a role.

John: Of course, that makes sense…

Sebastian: Let me pose another question. Don’t worry I’ll get back to the original question soon enough.

What happens if you’re not able find an active role at a company to train?

The answer to this one is straight forward; you can’t train and gain experience.

John: You’re right! This presents a really frustrating challenge.

Sebastian: Here’s another question; Is on the job training critical to getting hired into a role?

My experience tells me the answer is yes.

So if on the job training is critical to getting hired but on the job training can only happen once you’ve been hired … doesn’t that present a problem?

John: How are people supposed to do something if the opportunity to do it is limited?

Sebastian: That is the conundrum.

Let’s go back to the original question “What is simulated on the job training?”.

This answer may not be so simple.

Let’s first begin with the word simulated.

The definition of simulated is imitating the conditions of something, especially a training exercise.

John: That’s a straight forward definition.

Sebastian: Taking that definition and applying it to the original question means training in an imitation environment.

John: That’s seems pretty cool!

What conditions are necessary to create a simulated business environment?

Sebastian: That’s a good question. The conditions must be identical to those of an actual company. It must include the overarching business model, products, services, departments, goals, objectives, strategies, organizational structure, and of course the resulting data. And to go along with those standard conditions we mustn’t leave out all of the problems, challenges, warts, and pimples that actual business are plagued with. No training simulation can be accurate without the bad elements.

John: Okay, that was a lot of information to consume. Let me simplify and restate.

As a result of the challenges to acquire on the job training; which is critical for getting hired, another option would be to get simulated on the job training.

Would something like that really be effective?

Sebastian: The answer to this one depends on the quality and realism of the simulation. If all conditions are identical to an actual company then the answer is yes.

John: How would this benefit me? How am I supposed to measure my performance? How does this translate into me getting hired?

Sebastian: Okay, that was a lot of questions all at once. Let’s start with the second question first “How am I supposed to measure my performance?”.

Everyone who has attended a school or worked for an employer has been subject to some form of performance evaluation. Typically information is collected and analyzed through a system or model. The outcome is similar to performance reviews or grades in school. These evaluations act as indicators of your strengths and weaknesses. A simulated environment must contain some sort of evaluation system or model to provide feedback to users. This will allow for the continued development of skills.

John: That was a bit of a complex answer but I got it.

Sebastian: Now for the next question “How does this translate into me getting hired?”.

If you are training on information that is technically no different than information that would be encountered at a real company then the skills and capabilities you’re growing are directly transferrable. This means you can apply to companies referencing your simulated job experience and when you’re interviewing you can speak from a point of confidence in knowing that you understand the full complexity of applying relevant skills.

Now for the third question “How would this benefit me?.

I believe the previous two answers sum this up. The supporting framework of the simulated environments must provide proper feedback allowing you to identify areas of strength and weakness. And secondly, the engagement in the simulated environment builds the tangible application of skills and the confidence to apply them.

John: Why would an employer care about my simulated on the job training?

Sebastian: That’s another great question.

Employers will care because it’s an opportunity for them to see a demonstration of your abilities. If employers are able to see the evaluations of your performance within the simulated environments then they will have access to evidence of experience.

John: What does all this mean?

Sebastian: I’m glad you asked that.

This gap between education and on the job training has existed far too long. Simulated on the job training is a real solution.

 

This was a fictional conversation derived to highlight the challenges of finding career opportunities in data & analytics. Even though this was fictional the message is real and individuals experience this drama every day.

Simulated on the job training is an easily attainable method for overcoming many aspects of the experience gap. There are a few options in the market to help analytics job seekers. One such option is Corsair’s Ventures TradeCraft platform. Here is a link to learn more.

About the Author: My name is Ion King and I am a 20 year veteran of Analytics and Information systems for both fortune 500 companies and startups. My career has centered around traditional consumer lending and Fintech. Presently, my focus is on helping others passionate about growing careers in Data Science & Analytics achieve their goals. Connect with me on LinkedIn or find more of my articles on medium.