It’s all about the network: Joshua Richardson’s SAS career journey

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Some say building a network is a form of art. If that’s true, then Joshua Richardson is on his way to becoming a master! Joshua’s been with SAS since he graduated college in 2016. And he’s hit the ground running - already leveraging his growing network and relentless curiosity to progress his career.

I sat down with Joshua to hear how he’s taking charge of his career one connection at a time.

Joshua Richardson - It's all about the network

Joshua Richardson - Associate Information Systems Engineer

Q:  You’ve been at SAS for just a few years, and you’ve already advanced your career. What has your journey looked like so far?

Joshua: I started at SAS in the Technical Support Academy. With the Academy, I received about 5 months of training from industry experts, and learned how to support SAS’ products. After that, I provided tech support for SAS’ mid-tier products for about a year.

I was hungry for knowledge, and wanted to learn as much as I could. I enjoyed tech support, but I was curious about IT. I started reaching out to IT managers, but most of the managers I reached out to didn’t have any positions open at the time. It never hurts to network, so I kept connecting with those managers and maintained relationships with them. When you approach networking in a genuine and authentic way because you want to learn more about different teams and their work, people are usually really receptive. People were very open to giving their time, and the managers were always willing to have a conversation. After about nine months of networking and looking at positions I thought would be a good next step, I found the right opportunity, and was offered my current position as an Associate Information Systems Engineer. It’s been a whirlwind, but the journey has been great so far!

Q: Wow, that’s awesome! What motivated you to pursue a new challenge?

Joshua:  Some people don’t know what they want to be when they grow up, but I knew what I wanted to do when I was 17! I love solving problems, and I’ve always been fascinated by computer networks. There’s a new problem every time -  whether it’s figuring out connection issues, like why the internet isn’t working, or troubleshooting why an employee can’t access the server. Sometimes the problems are frustrating when you can’t quite pinpoint the issue, but that’s also an exciting part of the challenge. When I finally figure it out, it’s very gratifying.

The more I thought about it, I realized I wanted to be able to combine the skills I acquired working in tech support with my excitement for IT and computer networks. After a few years in tech support, I felt like I had contributed to the team, and was ready for a new challenge.

I’m driven by my relentless curiosity – I always want to know more.

Q: You really took charge of your own career. Do you have any advice for someone who’s asking themselves, “what’s next”?

Network over coffee in Building R

Network over coffee in Building R

Joshua: Network, network, network. You don’t need other people to introduce you – use your company directory or LinkedIn to identify others in similar roles. Don’t be afraid to reach out. I’ve found that people are generally very willing to help you, and if they can’t, they might be able to introduce you to someone who can. I take a very organic approach to networking. Put yourself in situations where you’re likely to meet others, like going to the gym or getting lunch with people from other teams. I’ll admit, at first, I was a little afraid to get started, but I’m so glad that I overcame that fear and started taking actions to help prepare me for my next career move. You never know what opportunities might be out there in the business until you start exploring!

Also, self-study was important to prepare me for that next step. YouTube was a great resource with how-to videos. There are answers everywhere, you just have to be willing to start asking questions. You don’t need a formal class. If you want to learn, you really can do your own research to make sure you know what type of job you’ll like and what skills you need to get there.

Q: It sounds like you really enjoy your role and the community here at SAS. What do you love about working here, and what brings you back every day?

Joshua: IT has a bit of a reputation for being tough field, and I know some people who have had to sacrifice their work-life balance. Here, I’m empowered to do great work when I’m at the office, and I’m empowered to enjoy living my life outside of work. We work hard, but I have a great team and I’m in a job I enjoy. I love that every day is different in IT. There are always new problems to solve and bugs to fix.

I’ve been fortunate to have some good luck on my side, and God has blessed me by putting me in a place where I want to be. There’s so much opportunity at SAS, and I’m thankful to be able to work here every day.

Thanks Joshua for sharing your journey and advice with us – we can’t wait to see where your career journey takes you next!

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About Author

Alyssa Grube

Associate Communications Specialist

Alyssa Grube is an Associate Communications Specialist focused on employee programs, culture, and employer branding. She’s passionate about the intersection of people + brand, and loves sharing the SAS story with the world. Seriously, ask her about why she loves SAS – just grab a coffee first.

2 Comments

  1. Nice one Joshua.
    My view on networking is that a lot of people don't think about who they network with and whether their network is going to help them meet their objective. With a bit of thought, you can make your network so much more effective. By knowing what you want to achieve, you can proactively grow your network with the RIGHT people.

    What do I mean by RIGHT people? Well, draw a simple map of you network and try to categorise who they are and how they can help you.
    For example, do you need EXPERTS who can help you with product/technical/industry/professional advancement? Do you need INSPIRER who can bring fresh thinking and ideas and opportunities into your world? How about NAVIGATORS who can tell you who the players are or point you in the right direction. Maybe UNLOCKERS who can give you access to resources (people, money, time etc). Or SPONSORS who would be prepared to support you and your ideas to other people.

    Is that it? No! There are INFLUENCERS who would work behind the scenes to win you support. And CONNECTORS who can make introductions and connect you with people who will help you reach your end goal. Sometimes you need a reality check and some honest talking... so do you have IMPROVERS in your network who are prepared to give you constructive feedback? Or CHALLENGERS who confront your views and ideas and help you see errors and blind spots. At the personal level you need NERVE-GIVERS who give you strength at difficult times and help give you a sense of purpose - they spur you on when the going gets tough. And when you need to be grounded and concerned about your well-being, especially outside work, do you have access to ANCHORS who can put the pressure of work into perspective and hold you to account for the balance in your life.

    So... Networking.... its not just about making connections.... it's about making the RIGHT connections....the ones that help you reach your objectives, whether work or home life. Having 150 Facebook friends and 500 connections on LinkedIn is NOT proactive networking. Be selective, be organized about the connections you make. The end results could be far more effective than you ever dreamed possible.

    Chris Starke ( chris.starke@sas.com )
    OE&D NEMEA

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