Excel-lent

However lame that pun is, it’s the best description of what you’re going to read here.

I am currently 11 weeks into my first coop term and I’m still enjoying myself, although the shiny appeal of having my own desk has definitely died. The number one thing that I’ve done in this time is mess around in excel. I’ve updated things and graphed things and once changed the entire layout and colour scheme of a dashboard.

Basically, when I said I was proficient in excel on my resume I was lying. My skills have increased exponentially and I still at this point would not consider myself proficient.

It’s been a great learning opportunity of instead of sitting through lessons and being spoon fed, I’ve just been given a task and got to trial & error, troubleshoot and google my way through it until I came out the other side with something that worked. At this point, efficiency isn’t my main concern with the work I’m outputting, it’s really to get something that will work under any circumstances.

I remember when my supervisor was telling me near the beginning of my term what kind of projects he had in mind for me I literally did not have a clue what was going on. At that point, all I knew how to do was press “=” into a cell and then do math operations. NOTHING ELSE.

So here I go off the deep end with my first task being to create a macro that would automate a task that involved updating numbers and formulas for new months of data.

For those of you who are in the same boat as I was and don’t know what I’m talking about when I say “macro”, it’s a code that you can program yourself in excel that can do all sorts of things much more easily than a human can. There’s a button to press and the code interacts with the sheets and data that you have there and can do a lot with it.

My macro had really simple operations and ended up only being 3 lines long (and then repeated for the different sections of the workbook) but it took me so much research to figure out what kinds of functions it had and the syntax and I was basically googling everything I typed at that point. Thank goodness I had that one coding in C class in first year because my knowledge of for loops and if statements was solid even if the rest of my coding ability is laughable.

I have learned SO MUCH new information and methods to do things that I know will definitely become more useful later in life but mostly it’s the process of creating these logical beasts that I’ve become more enlightened on.

A lot of the time I am frustrated or confused or at a loss when creating codes or working within the spreadsheet itself with lots of formulas. I’ve opened every single link on the first page of a google search to try and see if any of those could break down the wall that I had reached. At those times all that’s going through my head is how in the world can people do this full time for their jobs and there is so much to know I’ll never know it it’s too much and even just this line makes perfect sense to me why did I end up with the broken computer that can’t read my perfect line.

BUT THEN there’s the breakthrough moment when it all goes swimmingly with no error messages popping up or wrong outputs and you feel like you’re on top of the world. I feel like I get why people code and why they put themselves through all that frustration because when you get it and it works all you want to do is bring everyone around and show them what you’ve accomplished. And code some more. It’s addictive man, I can see it.

That has been a look into my brain as I turn from complete excel novice to slightly-experienced-but-still-takes-ten-years-to-finish-something.

I’m wondering how many of you relate with this or anything similar, or if you too had no idea there was another dimension to this spreadsheet program. Please let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear your stories!

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