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Jump Start Your SQL Server Learning Today (T-SQL Tuesday)

One of the great things about working with SQL Server is the opportunity to be involved in our fantastic SQL Server community. This months T-SQL Tuesday topic asks what we as data professionals do to learn our subject. (You can follow the conversation on Twitter using the #TSQL2sDay tag.)

SQL Server is a big topic in it’s own right, what with a variety of specialisms within the subject such as Administration, Performance Optimization and Analytics etc. it can be tough to learn about SQL Server in general, let alone stay on top of any relevant developing trends.

In order to give you a jump start on your road to maximising your learning efforts with SQL Server, here are some of the things I do to get and stay clued up on SQL Server.

Learn something new everyday

I’m a big believer of the “learn something new everyday” mantra. Yeah sure it’s cheesy but it works. Over the course of an entire working year for example, if you consistently learn something new about SQL Server everyday then that adds up to a lot of knowledge. Whether it be from Books Online, reading an article on SQL Server Central, something a colleague taught you or a solution to a task you devised through study, it all counts!

Subscribe to SQL Server Blogs

There are absolutely shed loads of excellent SQL Server blogs out there (just like this one, except maybe better :-) ) for you to read and learn from. Blogs can provide you with an insight into the daily SQL dealings of some of the worlds top data professionals. There is literally a Blog to suite every taste whether you enjoy technically detailed walk-throughs or short tips, there is something for everybody to learn from.

If you struggle to manage/read content you will be please to hear that each week I write a post containing what I think has been the most interesting and valuable content of the week, so be sure to Subscribe to the feed, which you can also receive via email.

Write your own Blog

The best way to learn is by teaching, so why not start your very own SQL Server Blog? Writing a Blog can be an incredibly rewarding experience for both your readers and yourself, providing you with opportunities to meet and interact with members of the community.

No convinced, check out my post Blog Your Way to Becoming a Better DBA.

Write an article

If writing a blog is not your thing then what about writing an article for one of the many great SQL Server site such as SQL Server Central or Simple-Talk. Writing an article  is a great way to really focus on your chosen topic and create some really detailed content. In doing so you have to really understand your subject and this can be a great way to learn.

Some of the articles I have written for SQL Server Central include:

Participate in forums

For me participating in SQL Server forums is one of the most fruitful and enjoyable ways to learn about SQL Server. Forums provide a means for you to learn from what other data professionals have come up against and are a great way to give something back to the community. Oftentimes you will find that you do not immediately know the answer to a forum posters’ question but instead do have the means to go ahead and find out more. In doing so you not only provide a valuable contribution to the community in the form of a solution but also learn something new about SQL Server for yourself.

Not all forums are created equal and there are a variety of different styles to suit all tastes, with some forums even offering recognition systems to reward their members. Personally I’m a big fan of Stackoverflow and the SQL Server MSDN forums.

To find out more about SQL Server forums check out my Top 5 SQL Server Forums.

Get Certified

Leaving the debate surrounding any added employment value of Certifications to one side, they are certainly an excellent way to manage, structure and focus your studies. One of the great benefits to following and completing a certification path in my view is that doing so will expose you to features of the SQL Server product that you may not already be familiar with, either through your current studies or professional experience.

….. and much much more

This post is starting to get quite long and I fear that I am danger of boring the pants of you dear reader and so will instead just list some of the other forms of SQL Server learning that I have found useful.

  • Attend SQL Server Events – Such as SQLPass and SQLBits here in the UK
  • Read Microsoft SQL Server White Papers
  • Read Books
  • Listen to and watch Podcasts
  • Webinars
  • Get some training – Such as the awesome SQLServer Master Class
  • Attend your local SQL Server Usergroups and Events

Digest all the SQL Server content you can get your hands on

The bottom line is what works for me is to digest all the SQL Server content I can get my filthy hands on and really immerse myself in the subject.

SQL Server content that you can learn from comes in such a wide variety of mediums, meaning  that you will always be able to find the time to learn.  A great way to learn if you are pressed for time is to watch/listen to podcasts during your daily commute to work.

I hope that you will find this information useful in jump starting your SQL Server learning. Remember the most important and powerful thing is to enjoy what learn!

John Sansom - SQL Server DBA in the UK

John Sansom (Blog | Twitter) is a Microsoft Certified Master (MCM) of SQL Server and publisher of the free SQL community ebook DBA JumpStart, an inspiring collection of advice for Data Professionals, written by 20 SQL Server experts. Awarded the Microsoft Community Contributor(MCC) award, John is a prolific blogger and can be found regularly writing about SQL Server and Professional Development over at www.johnsansom.com.


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