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Interviews Part 2 Expand / Collapse
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Posted Monday, September 19, 2005 3:22 PM
Grasshopper

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In my experience, I know enough to get things done, up and running.  I know I'm not a 'true' DBA, but in a small environment, I can keep a database going.  But at heart, I'm a website developer and applications developer.

You know what is amazing though?  I get calls and emails from recruiters all the time, and they see extensive applications work on my resume, and where I list the DB's I've worked with (SAQL Server, Sybase & Oracle to name a few), the recruiters figure you're a DBA.  And then they try to sell me on being a DBA so they can land the contract.  I politely say I don't have the experience to be a true DBA, and I want a developers position.  Yet some get very agressive and tell me to think about it, or ask how we can 'tweek' my resume so I look more like a DBA.  I've even had a few who have said the position was a mix of DBA work and coding and when I get to the interview, I discover there's no development work, they want someone to be a full time DBA.  So sometimes, it's not just the candidate, the recruiters are also at fault.

And you are right, ProveIT and Brainbench show nothing more than your ability to take a test.  The most they can show is book knowledge.  Brainbench had a free weekend a few months back, take as many as you wanted for free over a weekend.  I took about 20 tests, I came to discover I was also a damn good sales & marketing person, I knew enough about the travel industry to be a travel agent and could also run a 4 star hotel!  Go figure!

 

Post #221372
Posted Monday, September 19, 2005 4:48 PM
Mr or Mrs. 500

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Sad but true stories. We could sit around and talk for hours about the foolish. I think Sean is right - SQL Server has been advertised as easy and wizard-friendly.

We run into immediate problems where the database-challenged can not find a wizard. We have all run into the database design from hell - created by someone who was either a developer (is that similar to dabbler?) or someone sort of familar with drawing boxes. My favorite was the stakeholder in a project actually drew some random boxes on a paper and expected us to create a system. He had created something in Paradox that didn't work, but he decided it was just a flaw in the application design. Certainly, not his design. I have also been in project development meetings with the client where the client questioned me on why I had so much time devoted to database design. "Bill here," pointing to his overworked network guy who sort of knows Access, "could do that in a couple of hours."

Normalization is just a long word in the dictionary.

I have also worked with a client who promoted one of their folks to the DBA position. He knew nothing, but he was already planning to quit in six months to find one of those high-paying DBA jobs, now that he was a DBA. He was let go after four months because he frustrated his boss because he did not know anything and would not take the time to learn. He asked if he could use me for a reference. I said "No."















Quand on parle du loup, on en voit la queue
Post #221397
Posted Monday, September 19, 2005 6:44 PM


Old Hand

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New word for the dictionary:

Abnormalization: The process a DBA's brain undergoes when looking at a database created by someone who cannot spell SQL or thinks that T-SQL is what came after S-SQL.

 




-- J.T.

"I may not always know what I'm talking about, and you may not either."

Post #221409
Posted Monday, September 19, 2005 9:56 PM
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As a graduating college student I believe I am decent with MS-SQL server and I admit I'd have to stop and think on some of the questiosn in the article BUT that being said I am trying to find a replacement for myself at the law offices where I work where we use a commercial management product.  We are currently on our second person.  Our first person we recently just got rid of.  He came to us with experience in MS SQL 7, 8 and 2000 on his Resume --- the SQL 8 should ahve been the first clue but our HR director insisted that this was a typo;  he also had years and years of experience in DBs and everything else.  This small company -- 30 employees or so --- the sole IT guy needs to be a jack of all trades and master of many. 

We hired him, i went home for summer and came back.  over the summer any time when any kind of "advanced query" needed to be made --- advanced meaning anything that required a query with more then a basic inner join he'd call me.  About 2 weeks ago now I'm in my sedimentary petrology class (truth out:  I have a BS in Computer Science, I'm not sure I want to stick to computer science but have an interest in geology so I'm taking some extra classes and looking at option for graduate school) --- somebody comes and tells me "your office is on the phone, they said <<application here>> is down" --- I leave class check my e-mail and the IT person e-mailed me the updates he wanted to run (did he wait for me to check them ?  no!) ---- well, the updates didn't put the right data (not even the right data type) in the fields --- ok, so yes, I realize this is a poorly designed database if it allowed that to happen --- if somebody wants to get some good laughs track me down and I can make your sides hurt with these schemas; but he should have beena ble to figure out you don't put varchar data in a field that has integers in it (even though the datatype on the field is wrong but thats aside the point!) --- crashed our ENTIRE document management, front office managemetn, contact and billing system.  

Now the "fix" was really easy --- granted we had about 1200 items that had to be manually cleaned up and 8500 or so manual but with as much industry experience as this man claimed to have had, he should never have made this.  Much less, I should have been learning from him, not him learning from me.  

 

to the author:   I very much enjoyed your article.

 

to everybody else:  if anybody has some free time, as somebody whose going to be job hunting in January, I would very much appreciate any pointers on how to fairly assess my current SQL server skill set.   I think I'm pretty good but that is from the people I am around; I've not had the opportunity to really learn from "experts" -- my internship did not have a DBA, just another developer who knew a little more about databases then the rest and they were coming to me for help so I'd really apprecaite some feedback on figuring out where I stand if anybody would be willing.  You can reach me on AIM as TNGData usually.

--MAL




Post #221424
Posted Tuesday, September 20, 2005 10:41 AM
SSCrazy

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Excellent article, I totally agree, having worked as a sqlserver dba for about 3 years and working as oracle dba atm, it is a sad state of affairs when people can waltz into positions say they have 10+ years experience and end up falling flat when an emergency happens, it does nothing but give the rest of us a bad reputation and make it harder for the rest of us to find work. I have never considered your seniority to be based on service, but on experience gained and what you have learnt, i cut my teeth basically on replication and disaster recovery so i suppose i consider myself senior as regards to what sort of dba i am, what can you do, i cannot say i am junior, it limits the work i can go for, knowing that complete idiots get into interview by stretching the truth on their cv, anyway enough of my rant, i liked the article and thought it was very relevant

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Post #221679
Posted Thursday, September 22, 2005 10:22 AM
Grasshopper

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Okay, I read this article and its predecessor, read about 100 posts related to it, and no one yet that I've seen has made this point yet. So, here goes...

 

Imagine this: You're a PC tech, replacing toner cartridges, swapping video cards and such. But you're interested it databases. So, you spend hundreds of hours, thousands of dollars, and get your MCDBA certification. You're just getting going with your database career, when ... you guessed it ... the company folds and you get laid off.

 

After licking your wounds (and blaming dozens of other people for your former employer's demise), you open up Monster.com. To your joy and amazement, you see the following job opening:

 

Employer: Blibnibitz, Inc. (My apologies if anyone is actually using this name!)

 

Position: Database Administrator

 

laceName>SalarylaceName> laceType>RangelaceType>: Better than a PC Tech

 

Experience: 0 - 3 years

 

Education: None necessary, will train on job. But an MCDBA or degree would be really nice, though.

 

Details: Need someone to make databases from our Excel spreadsheets for us. Must be willing to back them up once in a while, and is willing to take a stab at it if they ever need to be recovered. The ability to drag-and-drop the fields to a Microsoft Access form is a big plus.

 

If only it were that easy...

 

It's usually more like:

 

Employer: Blibnibitz, Inc.

 

Position: Database Administrator

 

laceName>Salary Range:laceName> Buko bucks (but not as good as it was 10 years ago)

 

Experience: 40+ years experience with RDBMS systems

 

Education: MBA or BS required. Must have thorough programming knowledge in T-SQL, PL/SQL, VB.NET, C#, HTML, XML, Java, VBScript, JavaScript, Perl, SQL Server 6.5, 7, 2000 & 2005, Oracle 8i,9i and 10g, MySQL, Sybase, MS Access, FoxPro, Windows Server 2000, 2003, Unix OS, Linux OS, Data warehousing, OLAP reporting, Query performance tuning, Embarcadero ER Diagramming tools, Hyperion, etc., etc. etc....

 

Details: Enterprise wide back-up and recovery of replicated databases on 1,000's of company servers. Responsible for multi-tier deployment including execution of system analysis and design for database systems. Apply critical security patches and perform database upgrades. Provide information by collecting, analyzing, and summarizing database performance and trends. Creating and executing DTS packages. Etc., Etc, Etc...

 

On one end of the spectrum, there is the true senior DBA. You know the type, the ones who seem to have had their brain surgically replaced with a multiprocessor clustered RAID 5 server at birth, and have retained every piece of programming knowledge that has crossed their path over the last 30 years.

 

On the other end of the spectrum, there is the "Tommy Lee goes to College, Part 2: Tommy Lee learns SQL Server" crowd...

 

"Tommy, what's a clustered index?"

 

"Uh ... huh, huh ... the black book where I keep chicks' phone numbers in?"

 

(...and he's a multi-millionaire ... go figure!)

 

However, most of us fall somewhere in between...

 

Now, of course, most businesses are reluctant to trust development, administration, and disaster recovery of their business-critical data to someone who has "done it once in a lab environment." It doesn't sit well with managers and investors. I understand that. However...

 

The moral of my story is this: Until there are some sort of job openings, from companies that are willing to take junior DBA's and train them to get them up to speed, then junior DBA's will continue to lie on, or otherwise artificially inflate their resume's, just to get their foot in the door. If you're in the situation of the guy in the first paragraph, as many are, you aren't God's gift to SQL Server yet, but you need to put food on your table until you get there.

 

Thanks for humoring me.

 

P.S.: Experience: 40+ years experience with RDBMS systems? E.F. Codd released the DB relational model in 1970, which was only 35 years ago. Did you catch that first time through? Something else to watch out for!

Post #222746
Posted Thursday, September 22, 2005 10:33 AM


Ten Centuries

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" Buko bucks (but not as good as it was 10 years ago)"

Actually, that's the real problem I see with lots of job postings.

- 10+ years experience
- Expert in [insert every single technology you can think of, here]
- $50,000/year max salary

Uhh, yeah, RIGHT. What companies don't seem to get is that if you're going to ask for the world, you really need to pay for it.


--
Adam Machanic
SQL Server MVP
SQLblog.com: THE SQL Server Blog Spot on the Web
Post #222748
Posted Thursday, September 22, 2005 10:55 AM


Old Hand

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Adam, I agree with you and I don't agree at the same time.

I consider myself more of a systems administrator who also knows SQL to the level a good junior DBA would (I have no experience with design, but I can secure, backup and tune a SQL server pretty well, do DTS etc...) and I recently came across an opening for a SysAdmin where they wanted 8+ years of experience, an MCSE or MCDBA, knowldege of Linux, SQL, MySQL, Cisco, Apache, IIS, AS/400, Exchange, Sendmail and you have to carry a pager. This is in Atlanta. They were looking to pay $55,000 max.

Now, I asked some people about this and got two opinions...

  1. The company has no concept of what a person like that is worth in the current market
  2. The company knows but doesn't want to spend that much

In either case, the company will find someone to fill that position but, more than likely, the person will not stay more than a year. The person who fills that job will either be some down-on-his-luck out-of-work really good SysAdmin (like myself ) or will be a total liar. The person will either leave for more pay or be fired for incompetence.

I also agree with the previous post on it being damned near impossible to find a "junior DBA" position unless you happen to be in a company where they need that skillset and you can convince them to train you.




-- J.T.

"I may not always know what I'm talking about, and you may not either."

Post #222758
Posted Thursday, September 22, 2005 10:58 AM


Ten Centuries

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I'd be curious to hear from anyone who actually started as a "Junior DBA". All of the DBAs I know moved from development or IT positions, and were at least somewhat-senior in those positions before jumping over to fulltime DBA (at which point they had enough general skills that they were no longer "junior"). I haven't ever actually met a person working as a junior DBA. Does such a person exist? Show thyself


--
Adam Machanic
SQL Server MVP
SQLblog.com: THE SQL Server Blog Spot on the Web
Post #222759
Posted Thursday, September 22, 2005 11:38 AM
Forum Newbie

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I have to agree with grasshopper.  The email (although meant to be a wake up call for the individual) came across as insulting.  The author did a great job in protecting his company and their interests by providing a fairly thorough interview and subsequent due diligence. That was his responsibility.  What was ALSO his responsibility was to NOT make the individual feel lesser of an individual because of his knowledge base and that is the risk the email presented.  Who knows what the individual was like.  Would this be the one "life occurrence" that had lasting dertimental effects.  One would think hopefully not but if there is one thing I have learned in my life thus far, is that just when you think you know something, poof.   I can understand the frustration of the author but the leaders must lead.  Now what the hell are these BOOKMARK LOOKUPS lol


Kindest Regards,

Rick

Post #222779
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