T-SQL Tuesday #119 -Changing your mind

This month Alex Yates (b | t) invites us to blog about things in our IT career we’ve changed our mind about. When i read this, my mind went a little bit in overdrive, because there are many many things i’ve changed my mind about. I won’t list them all, but pick a few highlights.

IT is not my field of work.

When i had to choose my field of study, i wasn’t interested in IT. As a career option. Because i got my first computer when i was 12 (an Olivetti M24 i think) and after that a number of new ones followed. I liked to tinker around with them and play with them. Write .bat files, fool around with gw-basic and more simple stuff. But it never once occured to me to pursue a career in that field. My mind was set (mostly by peer pressure) on management or human resource management. Long story short, that route failed and after a nice attempt to master psychology one of my managers saw my IT potential and gave me loads of opportunities. After about ten years of struggle i started to flourish. And seriously changed my mind about IT.

DBA people are weird

Now, in part it is true, but that’s the fun part of every dba i’ve met so far. Either at conferences or on-site, dba’ers are a friendly, harmless kind of weird like i am. The ones i’ve met are smart, kind, willing to help and willing to listen. And they’re great to have coffee or beers with. If you look at the sql family hashtag on twitter, there is so much social interactivity going on! I was so wrong there. And so happy to be part of that family!

Installing a SQL Server database is next-next-finish and you’re done.

Do i even need to elaborate?
At my current job my coworkers are happy te learn but miss the time to explore all the possibilities. That’s where i saw my chance and dove in. Deep! I’m trying to get to grips with the data platform and all the best practices. There are a lot around and it’s hard to distinguish to good from the bad and the ugly. To help my company i’m writing a course every year. The last two years were about T-SQL, this year i’m writing about administration and security. It’s hard to write them but you learn a lot in the process. And now my coworkers come and ask questions! And that’s a major leap forward from the next-next-finish and enjoy your database approach.

Protect your knowledge to secure your job.

I really had to go through a change of mind to accept this one. I used to work for a part of the government where knowledge equals power. No exception. If you shared, someone ran away with it and took the credits. I’m sure it was just the part i was working and most of the other workers for the government are more open to share. But this attitude was built in deep. When i changed to my current employer i saw some people with the same attitude. My manager stimulated sharing. He wanted everyone to excel and the only way is to share and learn from each other. It took some time to get used to and a serious change of mind. Sharing is scary! Because what if you’re wrong? Again, i was very lucky that management focused on learning, not on errors or being wrong. Because everyone can be wrong, but that’s when you learn. You won’t learn when you’re right (or think you are) or when you keep knowledge to yourself. Because a fresh point of view can go a long way.

When you’re at a conference, you’re in the heart of the sharing community. If you’re there, you’re guaranteed of help. Because that’s why the speakers, volunteers and attendees are there. To share and learn.

Certifications show you can do your job

Yeah, well. A bit. For some part it’s true, because it show’s you’ve read the books and managed to answer some theoretical questions. Your manager will be happy because there’s another certified whatever in his group. You might get a raise. Cool. But it’s not the key to being an actual database professional. That just takes time and experience. If you want to really accelerate your learning, start writing a course on your subject. That’s the quickest way to dive deep into your preferred area. Try things out on a VM, fail. Fail hard and fail often. That’s when the real learning happens.

Speaking is for the top 0.1 percent of the best of the best

Yes, if you’re really good you’ll speak at the big events. But what’s stopping you (or me for that matter) to start at smaller events. Again, the community is there to help you. Some events even have newcomer tracks to help you get started. If you think you have a story to share, do it! If there are a few people there and one of them takes something away from your session: mission accomplished!


The end of this blog. I’ve learned a lot of things, changed my mind about many things in this field of data. And the only constant in this field is to accept change, accept that you have to change your mind and learn!

Thanks for reading!

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