Lose your Excel antagonism

201512-excel-file0001629067428When I was in graduate school, I despised Microsoft Excel.

That’s not entirely accurate.

I despised Excel so much, it wasn’t even on my radar. I wouldn’t consider using it…for anything. It was a non-entity.

  • I had a scientific calculator for on the fly use.
  • I had scripting languages for matrix algebra.
  • I had traditional programming languages for heavy analytics.
  • I had Gnuplot for graphs and charts.
  • I had VisIt for high-powered visualization.

As soon as I arrived in industry, I realized Excel would reenter my life. Then when I transitioned out of technology, and into a sales and finance role, I knew I was taking my relationship with Excel to the next level.

It turns out Excel and I aren’t great at next level relationships. But we have to make it work. The fact is, the business world is tied so deeply into Excel, I have no choice.

It hasn’t been a disaster. I’ve picked up enough intermediate to advanced tricks that I can make Excel work the way I want it to…most of the time. When it comes to processing large data sets, though, I’m out of luck.

And I know Excel has a bunch of add-ons that help it solve certain kinds of problems. I appreciate that. Unfortunately, I have limited time and energy for this kind of exploration.

Anyway, my point isn’t to moan about Excel. My point is to encourage you to familiarize yourself with it, if you plan to transition out of the technology group.

Maybe you already had to embrace Excel. If you haven’t, though…get ahead of the curve.

If you’re like me, you’ll have to leave your antagonism for Excel at the door. Learn the tricks around VLOOKUP, pivot tables, array formulas, macros, et cetera. If you need help, ask people around you. You’ll be surprised who the Excel gurus are. Or search Google.

You can pick up the Excel skills quickly. But you’ll have to come off your high horse, and know Excel pretty much is the only game in town. The quicker you embrace it, the smoother your career transition will be.

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