When we start wanting to learn a new skill, it tends to be for one of these reasons: 

  • A desire to change career or role
  • Seeking better pay
  • To make income via a side-hussle
  • Trying to build an in demand skill

The ideas about changing career or about making extra income are common ones.  It's less common to know how to go about making it actually happen.

In this post, I'm going to share some tips that I believe will help if you want to make that change a reality - and specifically if you are considering a role or career with Power BI. 

Is There REALLY Anything Stopping You?

Whatever you want that you don’t have, it’ll always require doing new, scary and uncertain things

The 5 Second Rule

When you first decide you want to change career path to use learn and use Power BI, the first steps could be daunting.

It's worth considering before making any plans, what normally stops me making changes like this?? 

Lots of people would like a career change. Many think long and hard about a step up in salary or having a side hussle. Most give up and never realise their goal. 

Why? Reasons often sound like this:  

  • It's too complex
  • I'm too old to learn a new skill
  • It will take me too long to learn 

None of these are true. By accepting a simple truth, you can be in a growing group of people who succeed.  

Start small and form a plan. 

The actual steps needed to make a career shift are surprisingly simple. Anyone can achieve them and anyone genuinely can succeed. However, they require effort. To be in the group who succeed, you'll need:

  • A commitment to your goal 
  • Structure in your approach
  • A willingness to keep trying but be flexibility in your approach (sometimes one experiment won't work. So try another)

At the Academy, we call this engaging in "Active Change".

Yes you can be passive and hope change will happen. How often does that work out for people?

Instead, adopt a pro-active approach. It will require that you:

  • Start to move your mental muscles in a new direction
  • Repeat 'muscle' movements where you practice and get better
  • Accept there will be exertion - You may become tired while working towards the outcome you want. That doesn't mean you should stop.

Just like physical exercise, the effort of moving to a new role, career or creating a new income stream will accumulate and will pay off if you stick at it.  

How Should Get Started?

“If you have an impulse to act on a goal, you must physically move within 5 seconds or your brain will kill the idea"

Think about this statement for a moment.

To keep with the fitness analogy. Have you ever started a new fitness regime and then one cold November morning been tucked up in bed and thought,

 "I'll get up and go out for that run in a minute ..."

If you didn't act there and then, chances are, you didn't move from that warm bed that morning didn't slip on the running shoes. Perhaps you recovered or did go out later but more often, it damaged the momentum you needed to launch your fitness push. 

The same is true of a desire to change career or secure a role using Power BI as a new skill.

One lesson we have to learn. If we want to change direction, act NOW.  Otherwise there is a good chance your brain will kill the idea and you'll find it harder to find motivation later. Even if that first act is a small step.

Try any of these as your jump starter:

  • Google Power BI roles and decide on one that looks like you'd want to do it. Then go 1 step more and list first 3 skills you need to learn
  • Make a list of freelance sites you will sign up to when you feel ready to pitch for work
  • Write the first 3 steps in your plan to learn more about Power BI e.g. Do a beginner course, download the Power BI Desktop software 

I Have The Right Mindset. I'm Ready to Go.  What Next? 

Let's assume you are locked and loaded and ready for action - and you know this is an effort you are willing to make.

What steps get that new role, career change or new income stream using the Power BI skills you have learned or are beginning to build?

Here's some ideas to get you started. Remember though, this isn't a one size fits all. There is no formula where you always add x to achieve y. 

It's about learning to continually make "micro-commitments" to yourself (small actionable steps which build skill and your suitability for a new role).

If you make a plan from some of the steps below, you'll be amazed at how quickly you build towards your future self and that Power BI role you wished for.  

Make a Learning Schedule That Fits YOU

To develop skills, you'll need training. You'll need to keep focus on a learning path and build your skills.

Finding Content to teach you the skills in Power BI is easy. Yes some will be better than others but the hard part is finding time

So find learning that fits to your schedule!

A suggestion about how to allow yourself to do this is to think about giving up 2 episodes of a Netflix series one night and do our Power BI JumpStart Challenge. Make it 2 nights in a row and take the StepUp as well. 

At the end of just 2 evenings,  you'll be able to build and publish reports and know far far more than you did when you started. 

Can Breaking Bad or Family Guy claim that? 

If you have secured the basics, dig into deeper topics that interest you more (and you will need) like DAX or how to set up Dashboards to tell a story.

You can find loads of great learning in our Academy but Im not going to pitch it all here. Come take a look and have a chat with one of the team. 

My 1 piece of advice. If time is tight, DO NOT go out and buy a glossy looking 7-hour Udemy workshop. It will sit on the shelf and gather dust and you will not get that job using Power BI.

Examples showing what you can do are valuable to either a prospective team mate, employer or client.

As you learn, these will get better but start small and early and build this into your routine.

You can always replace and update as you create more comprehensive examples to showcase.

There are some really easy ways to start to build a portfolio:

  • Create templates and share them to help others (template files carry the .pbit suffix).
    • Templates are a really nice way to show that you have an eye for the visual story that Power BI can unlock. They also showcase the skills you have learned.  
    • You could submit to the Data Stories Gallery that Microsoft host and use this as reference material
    • Be sure to include anonymised data to ensure you are not releasing sensitive or personal information publicly
Create a portfolio Of Your Work

You could also share screenshots on forums like we have at the Academy and invite opinions on the work you have done.

There are many groups out there who will be more than willing to share feedback. Accept the good and think about the bad but don't let negative put you off. Opinions are just that. 

One final idea is to create a folder of Power BI desktop files (these carry the .pbix suffix) ready to share. Again make sure you anonymise any data or use open source data from sites like Kaggle.com to showcase your visuals.

Become involved in a community

There are many communities who specialise in Power BI.

These are also great places to talk to like minded people and may lead to opportunities you hadn't initially considered.

We'd naturally encourage you to head over to the Academy and share your interest - be open about looking for some work or experience. You never know where it might lead.

Bear in mind, at the Academy,  there are almost 5000 people who have  joined specifically to learn and share in a community dedicated to Microsoft 365 services. So you'd be a member along with a pretty well aligned group of people. 

Dont underestimate the value of a certificate.

Although many are wary of "badge collectors", people who demonstrate a strong learning ability alongside the right attributes come across very well to prospective employers and clients.

Example:  one of our 5-day challenge members quoted having a Collab365 Credly Certificate as one of the reasons an employer treated his application favourably. 

They could see (because he mentioned it on his CV) that he had a willingness to engage in the learning and had a growth mindset. So half his battle was won.

He's now in a totally new job and loving it.

At the Academy, our certifications are all backed by a Credly badge. Credly is a worldwide recognised accreditation service used by the likes of Microsoft. 

We have Credly badges for Power BI as well as ones for building a Vacation booking service using more of the Power Platform (but including Power BI as well)

Certifications DO help
Create written content to share your skills  & work

If you have a location where you can blog, do this. Often.

Share your power BI tips. The reason being, it's a storefront for who you are and what you can do. 

My tip would be to write about your learning experience and be honest. Clients and prospective employers appear to have a bias now towards not just the skills, but the person as well.

Perhaps because the advent of more hybrid and remote working, teams, employers and clients can afford to be a little choosy and cast a net more widely.

So if you can stand out from the crowd or at least show you truly pushing your own boundaries, it's a tick in your box and not someone else's. 

If its a role change you are after, share some tips on on some cool visuals or how to publish a report on the work Intranet page. It could help new peers recognise you are passionate about the topic. 

Comment on others blog posts on topics of interest to you like e.g. DAX or Visualisations and share what you have learned.

If you'd like to Blog on our site, just drop us a line on hello@collab365.com. We would love to hear about your story and maybe you can use it to help inspire others?

Keep an eye on any forums you are part of.

Get involved at work in communities (they are out there if you are prepared to search).

The key goal here is to practice for free before you offer your services as a paid endeavour or look to cement a swap in roles or organisation.

This achieves 2 things:  

  • It  helps you develop your customer support skills
  • It helps you REALLY decide if Power BI is for you before you take a big plunge 
Offer Free Help
Get a listing on sites like fiver | Upwork | Freelancer

This is specifically for those looking for a side hussle or a new income stream.

All these sites allow you to describe and promote yourself. Think about how you would like to sell your services and what the people you want to find you would be looking for ?

Don't offer a list of features. Tell them

  • Who you are
  • What you love about Power BI
  • What you enjoy doing
  • What your big successes have been

With that kind of bio, you are far more likely to attract attention than someone who is a list of PL certifications and no examples to offer.  

So .... What Will You Do Next?

I may have offered you terrible advice. I hope I haven't, but having walked in these shoes a few years back myself, it's what I did.

I got lucky.

I'm now part of a passionate and talented team at Collab365. Who's to say this also can't be you?

My honest advice is not to expect overnight success. Instead, by implementing even some of the ideas I've shared into YOUR plan. I'm confident you'll start to see a great boost towards the goal you've set yourself.

One last suggestion to help you on your way ...

When you finish reading this post,  DO NOT move away from the keyboard until you have decided on your first step.

Remember that section above where I suggested you should act now?.Well now is THAT time. 

Once you have decided, make a plan for EXACTLY when you will enact that first step. 

ACTION: Make a post in the Academy to share your first step and when you will do it. Others will inspire and support you we are sure of it. 

Doing this makes you more accountable to yourself and I guarantee, from the people reading this post, those who take this action are more likely to follow through with their plan and achieve the goal they set for themselves.

Give it a go and let us know how you get on. 

About the author 

Jon Manderville

Jon is a Power Platform consultant and advocate of Agile delivery approaches. He's a qualified Scrum Master with years of experience but more recently has found joy in the engineering and art form of creating solutions using the Power Platform.