A non-technical post but something I have been asked about few times so I thought that I would put pen to paper and tell you about my journey on becoming a senior DBA. You might find it fun to read.
Time travel minus 10 years ago fresh out of University, Relational Database Management Systems was absolutely my favourite area where I learnt about *cough* *cough* Oracle.
Now let me be honest I was not a top student but I was very interested in the idea of working with databases. I actually enjoyed the data mining courses the most. I never heard of Microsoft SQL Server back then, it was only when I entered the real world I noticed that smaller / mid-sized companies used SQL Server quite heavily.
Key point 1 – I became naturally very interested in RDBMS.
After graduating I moved around jobs and settled into a “junior” level SQL Server role, nothing major here and I was doing tasks very typical with someone with hardly no experience think of writing / executing TSQL, monitoring backups etc. However it was from that moment something just clicked and I wanted to stay with the SQL Server product and make a living with it. I then decided to study very hard for the MCITP qualifications which took me about 1.5 years to do.
Key point 2 – If you are new to something I really believe that certifications is a good thing at the start, assuming you actually study and not go down a boot camp route! Don’t cheat, you are cheating yourself. So what if you fail a few times, I failed twice!
About 3 years later with multiple MCITPs and couple years of experience I had an interview for a “normal” DBA role. What was evident here? PASSION! I passed the tests but it was my passion that stood out from others. I mean come on, who else here scribbles CHECKDB commands on the shower door whilst taking a shower?? …..
Key point 3 – Find something you have a passion for, there is nothing worse than getting out of bed wishing for the day to end. Get up and tune that SQL Server!
Another 3 years down the line I felt like I was stagnating, enter Paul Randal and his mentoring scheme (back in 2015), talk about great timing. From that moment I changed as an IT professional. Couple of things happened here. Firstly I started my blog (I hope you enjoy it) but more importantly I realised how little I knew (and I still know little) but I wanted to address that so bad. It literally became my obsession; I would actually stop the car when driving and pull out of phone and go read something if I forgot about it whilst driving. Is that weird? Maybe!
Over the following 9-10 months I kept working on my weak points but it wasn’t enough, I decided to use my savings and enrol in the SQLskills training program (10 days) and it was after that I came back to the job and changed so much internally and my performances enter the realm of “Did he really just do that?”.. Yes I did Bob!
Key point 4 – Get a mentor! It made me more self-confident and it gave me the platform to get to the next level. (After the program that is, during the program I was actually beating myself up, I am VERY critical of myself) and get some quality training – think SQLskills or Brent’s Senior DBA training which looks cool. If budget is an issue I would sign up with pluralsight.
Key point 5 – Enjoy it. Technology is ever changing and if it feels like a burden keeping up to speed with the new stuff then maybe you need a holiday.
So for me the formulae was = Interest + passion + hard studying (sacrificed family time for this element) + mentor.
10 years ago I never had a goal of becoming a “senior” my journey took me to it.