I became a DBA because I used to be in sales and marketing. (Isn't that the career-path everyone takes?)
I got a sales job at a small direct-mail marketing company in the outskirts of Houston, TX. They were branching out into a new market, and needed salespeople. My wife was working there, in a technical position, and told the owners of the company I would be a good fit. We interviewed (the owners and I, not my wife), and they hired me pretty much on-the-spot.
Then I found out their CRM system was post-it notes, or scraps of paper. They didn't even have file cabinets, or folders, for keeping track of customers and orders. I'd get an order in, write down the specs on it, in note-form, write down the customer's credit card number and the amount to charge, and give the financial paper to one of the owners, who'd run the credit card through one of those retail-store card-scanners, and pass the order data to the production manager. Hopefully, the order would be done correctly, the charge would be done correctly, and the customer would call us back for another order next month. Hopefully.
There were three other sales teams, and this system seemed adequate to them, at least "just for now". They were looking at getting a copy of Peachtree accounting so the orders could be put in there, at least for invoicing.
I'd been a computer hobbyist since I was 8 years old (I missed punch cards by about 5 minutes when I first started out), but never had gone past the stage of writing WordPerfect macros to make my own job easier. But I knew this wouldn't be adequate to my needs.
I started out with an Excel spreadsheet, to at least keep track of the customers, but knew this wouldn't last very long. That same day, I decided "If a database is what I think it is, it's what I need. Why do they call them 'relational' though?"
By the time I'd been there a week, I had an Access database that seemed to work. Was a disaster by my current standards, but boy was it an improvement over post-It notes and random slips of paper! By that time, my team (me and an assistant) was generating 85% of the company's revenue, while the other three teams were taking care of the other 15% between them. Volume alone would have made paper systems impossible to manage.
Pretty much immediately, the other sales teams wanted to use "it" (the Access database) for their customers and orders. Then the accounting people (one of the owners, really) wanted access to "it" too, to see the order details that could be billed. Then the production people wanted into it, so they could keep track of what was coming their way and make sure inventory would work.
So I worked out how to make Access allow more than one person to use it at a time, and went around the office telling people, in my best Dr. Frankenstein voice, "It is alive!" and telling them how to use it. I even put in a splash screen for when it started up that just had the word "It" on it.
In very short order, we needed a real database engine, switched to SQL Server with an Access front end, and I had gone from, "Why do they call them 'relational'?" to "I'm a what? DBA? What's that stand for?"
For the next few years, I was in charge of "It", and had become a DBA. Been one ever since, about 12 years now. That original company never really recovered from transfering their top salesperson into IT, and went out of business eventually, but it's turned out well for me. And I did eventually find out what "relational" means, too.
- Gus "GSquared", RSVP, OODA, MAP, NMVP, FAQ, SAT, SQL, DNA, RNA, UOI, IOU, AM, PM, AD, BC, BCE, USA, UN, CF, ROFL, LOL, ETC
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"Nobody knows the age of the human race, but everyone agrees it's old enough to know better." - Anon