The question I get asked a lot by other data professionals at conferences, events, speaking engagements, family, friends, etc. is Why do you do what you do? Why do you put yourself through some of the things that data professionals have to endure at times with the non stop phone calls, system crashes, data breaches? What keeps you coming back for more?
Everyone is different, some may say they like the financial gains that come along with it, some may say they want that notoriety and accolades, and then some may say it is a stepping stone for climbing the ladder to future gains.
For me, being a DBA is a humbling experience. The potential for growth is great and the desire to gain continual knowledge in the skill set is prevalent. With being a data professional comes great responsibility, and it is a career that is not for the faint of heart. You will have late nights, long hours, and frustration on issues but all that molds, makes, and shapes you on your career path.
Grant Fritchey (Blog | Twitter) has one of the best articles, for myself, when he talks about Leadership Through Service. There are a handful of articles that really resonate with me over time and this is one of them. Whether you are in a shop, consultant, etc. you are providing a service and with that comes that word again ~ responsibility.
How can I get involved? This was one of the biggest areas I wish I would have learned earlier on in my career and now speak loudly about. Have you ever seen a new data professional just starting out? If you have then you know what I am talking about – the fire in their eyes and the drive and passion in their voice. That is something that I hope I never lose. I worked 11 years in the industry before really getting involved with community efforts and PASS. So the question remains how can you get involved?
Forums – some of the best opportunities lie within forums themselves. You can find information that you aren’t up to speed on and start studying to find what the answers are thus improving your knowledge gaps. Some of the ones I like to frequent are but not limited to:
- SQL Brit Forum
- SQL Server Central
- Stack Exchange
- Red Gate Forum (specializing in database professional products)
Blogging – if you aren’t blogging then you ought to try it. I have found for myself that it is a good learning tool and can be a repository of items learned along the way. As with anything writing takes practice, but be your own person. Once you have started you will wonder why you didn’t start down this venture sooner.
Email – Subscriptions – there are some golden nuggets to be had on email subscriptions from others in the industry. Some ones that would be of importance, but again are not limited to:
- PASS News Letter
- Paul Randal and the SQL Skills Team
- Brent Ozars LTD
- SQL Server Central
Industry leaders – look at the industry you are in. Within any one industry you will see leaders in the community and our SQL community is no different. I won’t go into to much detail but check out the blog roll section over on the right and side of this site and you will see some renowned leaders. Follow them, see what they have to say, and learn some of there techniques. Somewhere along the way you might just pick up some good habits and practices.
Events – this is something that has greatly helped me over the years. There is a wide arrange of events both free and paid that one can attend. Some of those you don’t even realize are available:
- SWUG webinars
- SQL Saturday Events (check out my section here for most up to date events or by logging on directly to SQL Saturday’s home page)
- PASS Summit
- SQL Bits
- Dev Connections
- Brent Ozars’ weekly webinar
Social Media – what a way to connect with many people at one time. If you haven’t yet check out some of these avenues below:
- Twitter (check out the #SQLServer, #SQLHelp, #SQLCoOp tags)
The list could go on; these are just a few to mention. In today’s society it is even more prevalent to take advantage of items that are free training yet still exceptional. Why not take advantage?
Speaking – I’ve heard people make the comments that they would never speak or they don’t like getting up in front of people. This is true everyone is different, but what I’ve found in speaking is that it causes you to know and learn your stuff. You can’t get up in front of 100 – 500 people and fake your way around. It has been a tool and a motivator again for learning and gaining knowledge. If you haven’t tried it then maybe try it out on some friends at work then move up to a local user group.
Your career is just that – your career. Own it and make it what you want. I’ve been told all my life I couldn’t do things; from being a 6’0 ft point guard in college to diving into a SQL Technology. Those naysayer’s have proved one thing to me – I like competition and once you’ve challenged me it is game on. I’ve been proving people wrong this long so I’ll keep continuing down that path ~ point here is you take your career by the reigns and make it yours. Don’t let others dissuade you or deter you from your goals.
There is nothing wrong with having a mentor. I’ve had some of the best and they have lead and guided me through my SQL journey. Wait a second, just the paragraph above you said be “your own person”. Yes I did, and you should. With that though comes the ability to differentiate and think on your own two feet, that doesn’t negate the fact that having a seasoned mentor who has been in the trenches would not be beneficial. Will you always agree with a mentor – no; but the insight into some of the mistakes made along with knowledge that can be provided is priceless.
To those that have mentored me, and you know who you are, I thank you for it is because of you I am that much further along in my career.
So back to the infamous question “Why”. I do what I do because I enjoy coming in everyday and being a DBA/Data Professional. I get to work with some of the finest people in the profession and learn from some of the best. I’m not in this game for the notoriety; I enjoy seeing and helping others succeed. Each day presents knew obstacles or hurdles to overcome; while some days are longer than others (as any data professional will tell you) there is a passion there that I have for the SQL Community as a whole and I hope that passion never burns out.
Some people have jobs they go to that they hate and it is just a job and sure you’ll find some data professionals like that. I’m blessed to say that I enjoy what I do on a daily basis and that I enjoy coming into work. There will always be that hunger to learn new things within SQL and the SQL Community and that will continue to be my driving force.
One thing I’ve noticed about the SQL Community is, while a passionate group, and one that sometimes disagrees that is okay because that means we are a healthy community. When I’ve seen someone hurting or needing a hand with a question it is a mere minutes before responses start flowing in. That’s the kind of group we are; dedicated data professionals who for the most part enjoy helping others.
I had a coach who I thought a lot of growing up….one time he told me as I was huffing and puffing at 3:00 a.m. from conditioning drills – “Somewhere, someone is practicing getting better than you. What will it take for you to be motivated?” That has kind of stuck with me. I know right now as I sit here and type this that there will be others that know more about certain topics, but just like basketball did it drives me to get better. Don’t settle.
So, now it is my turn to ask you – instead of why my question to you will be “Why not?”
Are you knew to the SQL game? Good then get involved
Are you a season vet who has been jaded so many times? If so then I ask you to remember back to when you first started out and the fire you had within you to conquer the SQL world. Yeah, you know what I’m talking about – find that fire once again and get involved.
For those that are involved my hats go off to you as coming from experience I know what it takes. I’m proud to be apart of this SQL Community and I plan on being here for a long time or as long as they would have me.