September 02, 2012

What I do about excel?

My life- your entertainment.

After a wonderful first week taking things slow and being the new kid on the block, I get to the office on Monday and realise my supervisors are on holiday. This should be a productive day I tell myself. I will look over my to do list and impress them when they return. I settle down on at my nice desk look over my emails and open all the relevant files. I decide to work on the data from the Post-graduate Taught Experience Survey on excel.

It's 10:30, I better get a coffee. On returning upstairs, I find out someone's been looking for me. Yes, My supervisor's boss needs some data for a presentation to the Board of Graduate Studies. [Confused look on my face] I can officially say I have never been so panicked in my life. It’s only been the start of my second week!!! I don't know what you need but I will print out all I have so I don't disappoint anyone.

Here’s what I think you need but I have no overall figures of how many students participated in the survey and any data I can get from the survey itself might be wrong as respondents do not have to answer all questions and I do not know which questions were compulsory. Someone please make me disappear.

I go back to my desk all panicked and more confused. I set out trying to extract the data from excel. I fail miserably. “Can you use excel?” he asks. Yes!!! I reply (Why did I ever say yes, all I ever used it for was to calculate the society budget and claim expenses). Usually when things go wrong in my life technology wise, I watch a youtube video that teaches me how to do it. You can’t watch a youtube video, where do you think you are. I spend 3 more hours trying to figure how to use coded result to extract quantitative data.

Thank God for Kim. After a 30 min conversation reflecting on all that had gone wrong through the day and almost tasting salt in my mouth.

I realise I have tried my best, I can hold my head high and say, I did not achieve the set task but at least I tried.

I look back on Monday, (yes, I did not get fired. Instead everyone laughed informing me “we also need to get the original figures from the survey company”) and decide that before I get to the point of no return, on that verge of tasting salt in my mouth. I should be honest and hold my hands up saying. “I have no idea, but I have tried this and that”.

My advice to self- when next you get asked, “can you use excel?” Always reply, I know how to use certain parts of excel, what would you require me to do?

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