Virtually all successful DBAs I know put a lot of focus on education, and the best way to make it happen is to create your own professional development plan for the new year. This way, you will be better able to find time (and resources) to accomplish your learning goals.
Here are some things you can begin doing now:
- Identify one national conference you want to attend in 2010, and begin discussing attending it with your manager as soon as you can. In some cases, managers will be completing their budgets for 2010 in the last weeks of 2009, and you want to ensure that your conference and travel costs are included. When you build your case for attending, be sure to emphasize how important it is for you to keep up with your professional development, and how becoming a better DBA can make you more productive and benefit your organization. The sooner you begin lobbying, the better your chances are of attending.
- Whether or not you can attend a national conference, there are many free 1-3 day local training events you can attend, and you should try to attend as many as possible. In some cases you may have to give up some of your weekends to attend, and in other cases you’ll be able to attend during the week. If the events are during workdays, start lobbying your manager to get those days off so you can attend.
- If you live in an area that has a user group, try to schedule as many of their meetings as possible into your calendar. By formally reserving the time to attend, it is much easier to avoid excuses for not attending.
- Some DBAs think professional development refers only to technical training. This is categorically not the case. In order to be a well-rounded DBA, you should also attend as many soft-skill training sessions as you can. Many large companies offer these in-house, or perhaps you can attend one of the many 1-2 day sessions that are offered at very reasonable rates in most cities. So sign up for a course on project management, leadership, writing, or speaking.
- Attending training is not your only professional development option. Another popular and inexpensive option is reading. There are many great SQL Server books available, and even more soft-skill books out there. Make it a goal to read at least one professional development book a month.
The above suggestions are naturally just the tip of the iceberg of professional development options. Whichever opportunities you choose, the sooner you outline your professional development plan for 2010 on paper, the more likely you are to achieve your goals.