Changing Career Gears

  • Brandie Tarvin

    SSC Guru

    Points: 172760

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

    Brandie Tarvin, MCITP Database AdministratorLiveJournal Blog: http://brandietarvin.livejournal.com/[/url]On LinkedIn!, Google+, and Twitter.Freelance Writer: ShadowrunLatchkeys: Nevermore, Latchkeys: The Bootleg War, and Latchkeys: Roscoes in the Night are now available on Nook and Kindle.

  • Capt Calamity

    SSC-Addicted

    Points: 449

    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

  • John Magnabosco

    Ten Centuries

    Points: 1195

    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!

  • Brandie Tarvin

    SSC Guru

    Points: 172760

    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 AdministratorLiveJournal Blog: http://brandietarvin.livejournal.com/[/url]On LinkedIn!, Google+, and Twitter.Freelance Writer: ShadowrunLatchkeys: Nevermore, Latchkeys: The Bootleg War, and Latchkeys: Roscoes in the Night are now available on Nook and Kindle.

  • Vincent Miller

    Old Hand

    Points: 300

    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.:)

  • Andy Warren

    SSC Guru

    Points: 119694

    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.

  • Brandie Tarvin

    SSC Guru

    Points: 172760

    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 AdministratorLiveJournal Blog: http://brandietarvin.livejournal.com/[/url]On LinkedIn!, Google+, and Twitter.Freelance Writer: ShadowrunLatchkeys: Nevermore, Latchkeys: The Bootleg War, and Latchkeys: Roscoes in the Night are now available on Nook and Kindle.

  • Osa O

    SSC Rookie

    Points: 37

    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.

  • Tim Mitchell

    SSCoach

    Points: 15664

    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, Microsoft Data Platform MVP
    Data Warehouse and ETL Consultant
    TimMitchell.net | @Tim_Mitchell | Tyleris.com
    ETL Best Practices

  • Steve Jones - SSC Editor

    SSC Guru

    Points: 720887

    Great article, Brandie!!!

    And thanks :blush:

  • EarthandAllStars

    SSC Enthusiast

    Points: 168

    Brandie,

    Thanks for the encouraging article. I'm right at the beginning of the same process you went through. It's good to read about a success story.

    James

  • jerimy stanley

    SSC Enthusiast

    Points: 162

    I would agree with Brandie in that's it's experience you'll want after getting a cert. Volunteer to get that experience under the belt even if it's not strictly database work.

    My career path evolved into a dba from a security guard through volunteering to work in an old dBase database for the small firm, then once I could say I had some pc experience on my resume, into several help desk and system administration jobs for progressively bigger and bigger firms, including a software company we all know. And while I didn't move directly into a dba role in my current firm until after I was hired as a system administrator, I volunteered for the opportunity to be a dba when it became available and had the experience on my resume to back it up.

  • lblsi

    Newbie

    Points: 1

    🙂

    Thanks for this article!

    I have been working for the same company for almost 20 years, worked up from the bottom. Since the original owners retired and sold the company 2 years ago, life has been miserable. The new owners took us to Chap. 11 reorganization and we just recently were bought out by another company. After several years devoted to caring for my late husband and raising children I decided it was time to change the situation. After considerable thought I decided to get my MCDBA, getting ready to take vendor exam 70-229 tomorrow. Many of my jobs within the company have centered around creating reports for management using ODBC and that is what lead me toward the MCDBA.

    Your article is just what I have been looking for. I wanted some info on how to break into IT when you technically do not have any true background in the field.

    The information about volunteering is excellent and I know of several possibilities to explore.

    Again just wanted to say THANKS, your article will be most useful.

    PS. Anyone out there in the Kansas City area, I am looking for work in the field. My work history and references are excellent.

    lblsi@yahoo.com

  • NadeemKP

    Grasshopper

    Points: 14

    [font="Comic Sans MS"]Nice work to do. I am also passing from the same =situation but I am still waiting for a good friend to help me out how to get success in MCDAB. Although I have experience of 05 years working with MS SQL Server 2000, VB 6.0 and Crystal Reports but cant decide where to go?[/font]

  • Brandie Tarvin

    SSC Guru

    Points: 172760

    All, I'm glad my article is generating such positive responses. For those currently going a similar Non-IT to DBA route, I hope my experiences help you along the way.

    Nadeem7971, I'm not sure what you mean by the following:

    but I am still waiting for a good friend to help me out how to get success in MCDAB.

    What are you needing from your friend in regards to the MCDBA?

    Brandie Tarvin, MCITP Database AdministratorLiveJournal Blog: http://brandietarvin.livejournal.com/[/url]On LinkedIn!, Google+, and Twitter.Freelance Writer: ShadowrunLatchkeys: Nevermore, Latchkeys: The Bootleg War, and Latchkeys: Roscoes in the Night are now available on Nook and Kindle.

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