The last two weeks have brought a (seemingly) daily deluge of difficult news in the tech sector. Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and Amazon have all had significant layoffs with many friends in the #SQLFamily and data community being impacted. In times of uncertainty and heightened anxiety, it’s essential to have a group you can turn to for support.
Over the last few weeks I’ve seen this play out often. It’s difficult to see so much need and yet encouraging to see so much support offered, connections made, and doors opened. Whether or not you were impacted directly, it’s a good reminder that our technology is always changing and our skills need to adapt with it.
As data professionals we have to be mindful of the changing technology landscape, ready to broaden our skills with each new release. Sometimes we have the opportunity to do this organically, or sometimes we’re forced into it by circumstances. When circumstances demand a change, we get to decide how we respond, move forward, and grow. Let me give a personal example.
Five years ago I left a company I had been at for almost 15 years, all of them within the Microsoft Data Platform. I was moving to a growing company that was having big data problems. SQL Server big data problems! As a result of some miscommunication when I accepted the job, the company forgot to mention that they were moving to PostgreSQL between my acceptance and start date. Oops!
At the time I had no desire to make the switch to PostgreSQL. For the first 12 months, I mostly fought the transition. I kept looking for any way to convince the team to move back. The biggest reason they left was to save costs because portions of their application performed poorly and they were continually increasing resource spend. Within the first two months I was able to improve most of the query issues that were causing the original bottlenecks. “Moving back to SQL Server will be a better long term move, despite the extra work!” I told them.
Honestly, one of the biggest reasons for my frustrations at the time was a lack of community. For more than a year I was certain that the same community didn’t exist for PostgreSQL because I couldn’t find it. With the #SQLFamily, I knew how to find events, how to get help, and the people I could look to for upcoming career opportunities and areas to grow professionally.
A little more than 12 months into the new gig, I finally started to have a mind shift and look more earnestly for a Postgres family. Eventually I found it, and with it, I began to appreciate the platform and people more and more. Five years later, I can sincerely say that I feel like I’m part of a global community that I can learn from and contribute to!
And in the end, I learned one major thing. Data is data, and SQL is SQL. I began to find success as I leaned into the community and stopped wishing PostgreSQL would work the way I wanted it too! Instead, I started to apply the principles of efficiently querying data, technics I had learned with SQL Server, and found the corollary approach in PostgreSQL.
In short, I found that the knowledge I already had gave me a head start to work more effectively with a technology that seemed dramatically different.
As we face uncertain times and an everchanging technology landscape, learn from my mistake (and stubbornness). There are a lot of opportunities around you, some of them might be using new technologies that frustrate you, but you have the skills and knowledge to get you started.
More than you know.
Even in uncertainty, there’s a new journey awaiting you. Where are you going today?