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Changing Career Gears Expand / Collapse
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Posted Sunday, November 25, 2007 9:20 PM


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Comments posted to this topic are about the item Changing Career Gears

Brandie Tarvin, MCITP Database Administrator

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Post #425536
Posted Sunday, November 25, 2007 10:35 PM


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Good points...and since IT is such a vaaaaast field (even a DBA job nowadays) it has happened to me over & over.
Started as a Civil Engineer (those guys laying roads, standing in the middle of a limestone storm with goggles & scarf over mouth - that's what convinced me to change!), had helped a depot fix their budgeting models in Lotus123, got the opening into MS Access 1.0 and panicked.
A crash course in relational DB's + a LOT of playing around in my spare time and then realised I needed more power - enter VB3.
Again it was like staring into a bottomless abyss - even searching for beginners literature seemed to return a thousand strange and confusing terms, like a foreign language. Hey, it WAS a foreign language!
But, like eating an elephant (1 bite at a time) the balance slowly tipped and I began to understand more terms than I did not.
Again a lot of playing around - I find taking apart other people's code gets me 80% of the way in 20% of the time, then I use books to fill in the gaps - and I emigrated. Had jack-of-all-master-of-none skills in a "it's not in my job description" country, but got a job programming in VB5...I had a month to become productive as part of my evaluation.
Then I bumped into SQL Server 6.5 - looked like a return to Unix and again a baulk, but the tides tipped eventually and paved the way for a SQL7 job making it dance a Russian Cossack.
Eventually .Net arrived and VB.Net suddenly looked nothing like VB and more.
And no-one wanted to employ someone without the word "dot" in their skillset.
So more after hours playing...choose a project (a web service - bit of a high goal, but the concept appealed and the floundering humbled my ego a little ) and wittle away, re-writing it, improving it until again I could understand some of the terminology in the user forums!

So I heartily concur - you may end up at the bottom of the tree again, but you can prepare beforehand and if you stick to it you'll soon be further up.
And thank goodness people started hiring based on potential instead of bits of paper...you still get both (sometimes a "grunt" is needed, but they're usually low paid, thankless jobs) but there's enough of a market out there that, in an interview, you don't need to stretch the truth - "nope - not had time to do that yet, but it appeals to me, reckon I could pick it up in a week"...and, with the way things progress, you'll have the new productivity enhancing Visual X language to learn next month anyway!



Regards
Andy Davies

Post #425544
Posted Monday, November 26, 2007 4:28 AM


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I would add that participation in a local user group is a key part of this learning as well as getting to know others in the field. There are many beginners who stay away from user groups because they are fearful of not understanding the topic or are shy about revealing their lack of experience to those in attendance. Just remember that everyone there is to learn. I often say that the more I learn, the more I learn that there is more to learn.

I am a co-founder of a local SQL Server user group and I cannot begin to express how much the user group has enhanced my experience as an IT professional!
Post #425643
Posted Monday, November 26, 2007 4:37 AM


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That's a good point, John. Unfortunately, when I was studying for my cert, I didn't know of any local users groups. They don't advertise very well in my area. And when I searched the local papers for one, I never could find one.

One thing I did forget to mention, though, was that I did participate in SQL Server forums and subscribe to a lot of e-newsletters during this time. At first I just lurked. Finally, when I thought I had learned something, I started posting both questions and answers to others' questions.

I did embarrass myself more than once answering a question wrong (and still do sometimes), but it taught me a lot when people were kind enough to point out my errors and tell me where I could get more information on the subject in question.


Brandie Tarvin, MCITP Database Administrator

Webpage: http://www.BrandieTarvin.net
LiveJournal Blog: http://brandietarvin.livejournal.com/
On LinkedIn!, Google+, and Twitter.

Freelance Writer: Shadowrun
Latchkeys: Nevermore, Latchkeys: The Bootleg War, and Latchkeys: Roscoes in the Night are now available on Nook and Kindle.
Post #425650
Posted Monday, November 26, 2007 6:03 AM
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Hi Brandie
Thanks for the advice. I spent Thanksgiving weekend studying for my MCTS exam because I have a BA in English and a Master's in Public Administration and I want to work as a DBA and in business intelligence. Reading your article on this Monday morning has been encouraging.:)
Post #425701
Posted Monday, November 26, 2007 6:04 AM
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Good stuff, even if I don't rank up there with Brian & Steve!

Seriously though, I think you did a pretty good job of building and executing a plan as best you could with a lot of unknowns. The one thing I would add is that in general the first real SQL job should not be a long term job. Spend 1-3 years to learn the ropes and give back some value in return for them hiring you, then it move on to a new job where you can most likely earn more money and get a new set of challenges. Many people that that first big break and start thinking "I've arrived!" and wind up with a lot of gaps in their skills. Changing jobs, or attempting to, will expose those gaps in a hurry.


Andy
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Post #425703
Posted Monday, November 26, 2007 6:18 AM


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Andy Warren said:

Good stuff, even if I don't rank up there with Brian & Steve!


On the contrary, Andy. You definitely rank up there with those two! Your articles have helped me get through many a tough spot at work. (Thank you, thank you, thank you). But if I listed everyone who was better at SQL than I am, I'd never get to the point of the article. @=)

I guess I'm lucky in my current job. Every time I turn around, I get to learn something new. At first it was SSRS for SQL 2000. Then it was SQL 2k5 and SSIS. Now I'm just about to start learning SSAS for a current project, something I haven't had a chance to play with yet in any position. Plus I've been forced to learn the theoretical basics about BI in the past 6 months for the same project.

I don't get to use my hard-earned Replication skills at this job, but I am getting exposed to a number of different SQL tools that I only ever understood on an intellectual level. So contrary to your advice, I think I'll stick with this job for a while longer. They like me, I like them and I'm still on a major learning curve that can only help me in the future. @=)


Brandie Tarvin, MCITP Database Administrator

Webpage: http://www.BrandieTarvin.net
LiveJournal Blog: http://brandietarvin.livejournal.com/
On LinkedIn!, Google+, and Twitter.

Freelance Writer: Shadowrun
Latchkeys: Nevermore, Latchkeys: The Bootleg War, and Latchkeys: Roscoes in the Night are now available on Nook and Kindle.
Post #425710
Posted Monday, November 26, 2007 7:43 AM
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Thanks for the article. I am happy some one else is preaching the same message I am doing. Fortunately I had a degree in computer science but with very limited experience. But I worked at small firms that did not last or struggled. I did virtually everything, Network Admin, PC tech, DBA, Programmer, Tester, Analyst, Consultant. We did not have the resources to pay anyone else for this. Today I am doing well in a position that most of my peers have more than twice the experience I have. And the icing on the cake, I just got an offer for a job doing the same thing I do today but twice the income. In less than 5 years, will be making about 5 times what I started with. The key is doing what no one else want to do or care to do, get your hands dirty. And yes most people say certs don't matter. But if you are just starting out, it does matter a lot. I am MCSD, MCAD, MCP. Take care men. You are proof that hard work pays off.
Post #425760
Posted Monday, November 26, 2007 7:48 AM


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Good article Brandie. I would add to this that a good place to start "at the bottom" would be at a nonprofit or small government agency. In many cases, these types of organizations are not able to attract highly experienced IT workers due to salary constraints of their limited budgets, so it can be a good place for a person with limited experience to get his/her foot in the proverbial door. My career as a database dev started this way - I worked for a nonprofit as a systems technician and volunteered to administer the lone SQL Server in the place. One SQL Server became two, two became four, and suddenly I'm a DBA.



Tim Mitchell, SQL Server MVP
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Post #425765
Posted Monday, November 26, 2007 8:53 AM


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Great article, Brandie!!!

And thanks







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