Monthly Archives: November 2010

Breaking into Information Technology (one approach)

Was talking with my wife about the “good ‘ol days”. Small apartment, going to school, trying to make ends meet.

Those were the days shortly before the dot com bubble burst. At that point I was fighting against being in I.T. because EVERYONE was going into the field. Oddly enough every  job I got at the time was either website work or server work. And I had a knack for it.

It’s got to be even harder now for graduates and beginning computer professionals. Most businesses I know of want that 4 year computer science degree plus experience to even get your foot in the door. Back when I was starting if you knew how to create a spreadsheet in Excel you were considered a computer genius.

Now if you don’t have experience in whatever niche software the company happens to be running you might as well not even apply. Forget about it if you’re a hardware guy looking to get VM experience with a large server farm.

It’s quite easy to gain experience in the open source software like PHP/Postgres/etc. Simply set up a home server and have at it.

While it’s true that there are many companies that run on the LAMP stack, or use Linux as their desktop OS most traditional businesses are using the big names like IBM, Microsoft,and  Oracle.

I remember the big hurdle for me was to just get my hands on this bigger and higher-cost technology. How do you do it? Barring buying your own license (or getting the software from more ill-reputed sources) how does one get experience to get in the door?

The answer I kind of stumbled into was to get a job in government I.T.

There are many entry-level positions in government and most cities and counties run the big name systems. Sadly compared to the private sector these jobs usually don’t pay as much.

However, given the job market stability with government, potential for on-the-job training, and hands-on experience it’s a great arena to “cut your teeth”.

In my three plus years now in government I’ve already seen people gain the experience and transition back into the private sector making the large salaries.

So, if you’re trying to get your foot into that junior level position give your city or county a look.

Most are dying for new blood, and fresh skills and ideas. Plus, as an added bonus, you’re helping your community.

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Why are DBA skills necessary? #TSQL2sDay

Finally taking the plunge. First time blogger to T-SQL Tuesday here.

I would have to start by saying that as I’ve grown in DBA skill and knowledge coming from the dark side (developers) I can see right off the bat some skills that are critical. Here are just some basic examples (near and dear to my heart) where a good DBAs skill-set is invaluable:

Ok. So this is a no-brainer. Choosing a backup strategy should be pretty evident. There is nothing worse than developing an app or a database only to have your work tampered with or worse…having the a server go belly up. Devs have source control, DBAs have backup/recovery plans. The point is learn how to back up your work/database/office doc/files and be religious about your method. It will never steer you wrong and could save you tons of re-work.
(DBA’s are rock stars with backups by the way).

Performance Monitoring
Know it, love it, and it will serve you well. Pay it no heed and it will give you a major headache whilst your manager is peering over your shoulder going “have you fixed the problem yet?” There is nothing cooler than to watch a DBA peer into the crystal ball of performance data and diagnose the problem as if by magic.

I think a DBA is critical here, but this could map to other areas of technology. A lot of times the database is an afterthought with vendors. I have asked vendors point blank what version of SQL Server they support. I cringe when they say “oh it’ll run on anything 2000 and up”.
This is code for: we only dump data into the database and know nothing of features like Indexed Views, DMVs, and Extended Events.
These are the same vendors who do stuff like not allowing you to add your own indexes (with documented performance gains) for fear of “altering” their database (true story).

All in all I think a DBA skill set should pertain to many different roles to have a successful I.T. department.

Ultimately you can learn a lot from a DBA. I have.

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