Friday, October 9, 2009

How I Became a Database Administrator

Thanks to my buddy Ted for Tagging me. (See his blog here, or find him on Twitter @onpnt)

My journey to the position of DBA starts off much like those of others: I graduate from college (with my degree in Psychology) and start looking for work. As a new graduate with a piece of paper to prove it, all I have to show for experience are the odd jobs I held while in High School and College. Fortunately, for me anyway, those jobs were always in an administrative role instead of fast food. Taking my diploma and my admin/customer service skills into the workforce I found myself employed – as a ‘secretary’ as they were called back then.

Fortune smiled upon me once again, having more than half a brain, and I ended up being the Go-To Person in the office when someone couldn’t get their computers to behave the way they expected: network issues, printing, using applications, you name it and I fixed it. Evenutally, I had the good fortune to take a class on how to use Microsoft Access. As my first introduction to the word ‘database’ and learning about datastorage and querying, I was hooked! As fate would have it, my Administrative Assistant position was no longer needed and I was in search of another opportunity.

I went back to that company where I took the database class. They were hiring! For the next three years, I worked as a Software Trainer. I began teaching VBA and .net classes and had my first taste of SQL Server teaching T-SQL. As I started to talk more with my students, I realized I wanted to get out there and use the skills I had been teaching everyone else. This leads to my first Real Job™ as a developer for a booming Dot-Com and what I like to call the “Sold My Soul” years. As much work as it was, this opportunity did give me the stepping stone to becoming a DBA, though. About 4 weeks into my first full-fledged .net developer position, the DBA walked out. When management looked around the room and said, “who here knows anything about databases? Ah, yes – Wendy! You’re our new DBA” well, the rest is history.

Formal training has not existed since that first Microsoft Access class. Sometimes it reminds me of the saying “Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten”; other times it’s a struggle to make sure I keep up and learn whatever I can whenever the opportunity strikes. Fortunately there is a wealth of information on the interenet and many wonderful resource books. However, I learn best in hands on situations. This makes conferences that much more valuable for me. While I have attended a TechEd here and there, my preferred conference is SQLPass ( It’s refreshing to be a contributing member or a professional community.

I still haven’t reached my personal professional goal, and while I can’t reveal what that is, I promise to share it when I do!

1 comment:

  1. Thankful for all of us your skills shinned early on
    :-) You're a great asset to the SQL Server community!