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Interview with someone that works with Databases / SQL server


Interview with someone that works with Databases / SQL server

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nnennajn1
nnennajn1
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Hello all,

I am a current student here at the University of Washignton, Seattle USA who intends to start a career in Database Management/ Administration in the healthcare setting.

I am looking for someone who is currently working with Databases especially SQL server that will be willing to do a student-led interview to share their experiences and answer some questions an aspiring developer might have.The goal of this interview is to learn more about the role that database developers play. Your experiences working with databases currently, in the past and as well as future aspirations are critical tools that young aspiring developers admire.

I got questions and am curious to learn more .

Looking forwards to hearing from you and thank you for your time.

Joan
danny_dba
danny_dba
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Hi Joan,

I'm a DBA Manager currently with 10 years experience and history of working in healthcare. The teams i manage look after SQL Server, Oracle and MongoDB, but we're mostly a SQL Server shop at the moment.

Happy to help someone trying to learn, although i'm not sure what i can publicly post depending on your questions!! Smile

Thanks,
Dan
bmg002
bmg002
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I can answer some questions too. I'm kind of like Danny_Dba though in that there are some questions I wont' be able to answer.

I have been a DBA for 7 years roughly and I learn something new every day. I try to either learn something new OR tackle a new problem each day.
My overall duties include database administration, code verification, code release, code creation, and server maintenance. With server mainteance, that covers things like windows updates, CPU and memory management, CPU and memory requirement recommendations, HA/DR setup and maintenance. Code related things includes SQL code, C# code, VB 6 code, source control management (both the software updates and the managing of the projects and merges and such). Database administration is things like backup/restores, user creation/removal, optimizations to existing code, managing blocking/deadlocks, etc.

And on top of that, I try to find time to do some training. Training videos, blog posts, forums, etc. I try to learn or share my knowledge a bit if I can.

If you have any specific questions though, feel free to post them and I (and I expect others) will do their best to answer them.
nnennajn1
nnennajn1
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Hi Danny_dba and bmg002,

Thank you so much for your response to my post and your willingness to share your experiences with me . I will go ahead and add the questions to this reply . So both of you can post your answers . Should you prefer to answer any via e-mail, do let me know. Here the questions:

1.What is your education, experience and current position?
2. Did you always work in a similar job, or did you transition from another field?
3. How did you transition to healthcare IT?
4. What sort of tasks do you do daily, weekly, infrequently?
5. What do you like about this work?
6. What software languages do you know?
7. What are some useful non-SQL skills you have learned that has helped you in this career?
8. What are some of the different database programs you have used?
9. What do you recommend I study/learn/practice to prepare for a position working with databases?
10. If you had a choice, will you have done some other career besides database analyst?
11. Is there a difference between Clinical Analyst, Business Analyst and Database Analyst?
12. What is database and who are the most important users of datas.
13. So far in this introduction course to Foundations of database management, I have noticed it requires focus and attention to detail. Can you share with me how you troubleshoot problems in your current role?
14. What are your favorite resources for troubleshooting or learning new skills?
15. What is your greatest motivation in this career that keeps you going?

Thanks again for your professionalism and support.
Joan

bmg002
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1 - My education is some university, no degree. Plus I got my MTA in database fundamentals. Experience is 7 years as a database administrator and current position database administrator
2 - I started with minimum wage jobs, then moved to a production assembler (soldering circuit boards mostly), then moved to IT and finally ended in a DBA career
3 - I am actually not in healthcare. I misread your post as that being a requirement. Sorry. I work in the manufacturing industry
4 - daily, I monitor the SQL databases, write C# code, update software/servers, and write/manage reports. Weekly, I verify the SQL backups and infrequently I repair bad SQL servers
5 - I enjoy the challenge of providing end users with the data they require and trying to get that from what they ask for
6 - I know TSQL, C#, VB, vbscript, bat, some powershell,
7 - basic IT troubleshooting has helped a lot. It is helpful when an end user reports that something is "slow" or "not working" to be able to determine if the problem is actually the database or something unrelated.
8 - I have only worked with SQL Server
9 - I think that depends on the company. Where I work, getting my foot in the door as a production assembler helped me to get up to being a DBA. If you are unable to get a job somewhere where you can prove you CAN do the DBA work, I'd look at the requirements that potential employers are asking for. If they are looking for a university degree, get that. If they don't, look at what they are looking for and learn that. Knowing backup and recovery as well as various HA/DR solutions will help you get a job as a junior DBA. That and knowing SSIS, SSRS and even SSAS.
10 - I enjoy being a DBA. The main reason I left IT was I was starting to find it very repetitive. DBA work is a LOT less repetitive than IT work.
11 - I am not sure what a "Clinical Analyst" is, but from my understanding, a busness analyst focuses more on the busniess end of things and tends to build more reports for end users. A database analyst would focus more on the administration side of things like building new databases
12 - I don't really understand the firt part of the question, but for the second, he most important users of the data are the end users. As a DBA, I don't care much about what the actual data IS in the database, as long as the end users can get it and I can provide them with what they need. Having a 5 in the 3rd row, 5th column or a 10 in that field makes no difference to me as long as the data still makes sense.
13 - Troubleshooting problems depends entirely on the problem. For example, if a service broker queue goes down, you need to know how to get it back up as quickly as you can. It could be a deadlock in which case turning it back on may just work. Or it could be a foreign key violation and you may need to disable a trigger to get the data to insert and manually adjust the message to get it to insert. We have a lot of SSIS packages that run nightly and we had one fail last night. I figured out the issue, contacted the developer of the package and asked them to work with the end user to resolve it. Had they not been here, I would have had to figure out how best to resolve that problem. It was a "divide by 0" error.
14 - favorite resource for troubleshooting... that is an interesting one. built in DMV's are good, profiler is good, database health monitor is good, redgate SQL Monitor is good... those are my main go-to for troubleshooting... if all of those fail me, I post on this forum. As for learning new skills, a lot of it is just trial and error. Or posting on this forum.
15 - greatest motivation is money. It sounds petty, but it is really the reason I do my job. That and I enjoy the challenges that sometimes come up. Like making a 5 minute SQL query run in less than 1 second? That is fun. I have always enjoyed optimizing code and I am getting better every day when I read my own old code.

I hope my answers help, even though I am not in the health care industry.
nnennajn1
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Hello bmg002,
Thank you so much for your response and taking time to candidly answer the questions . Your professionalism and passion to keep it going is inspiring. It's great learning that while IT is repetitive , DBA is not . This helps me a lot since I enjoy versatility.
Once again, thank you so much for being a great example to me as well as future database administrators.

Joan
bmg002
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No problem. As for IT being repetitive, it depends on where you work as well. Where I work, I was slowly building up a list of canned responses to people and was not really "thinking" in my job. When this starts happening, I start handing out resumes. I need to be challenged at my job or I get bored.
As a DBA, I find I am challenged a lot more. Plus my boss is good at keeping me busy. But having the IT background is also helpful. When I see something break, my first thought isn't that the database is bad. My first thought is "lets gather evidence of what happened and why and then decide how best to solve it". Sometimes it means re-running a SQL job. Sometimes it means rebooting a VM. Sometimes it means doing nothing (for me) as the problem isn't related to the database or software I manage.

If you are thinking of working in the IT industry (including being a DBA), one of the best resources for troubleshooting is the logs. When somebody reports a problem, check the logs. Doesn't matter what software it is. Find the logs, and read them.
Also, before posting any logs or SQL code online, always make sure you are allowed to. That is, that it doesn't contain any company proprietary data.
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