Friday, July 31, 2009

10yrs Experience

I’ve interviewed many DBAs and one thing holds true more often than not.  Almost everyone has 10+yrs experience, and almost none of them can show the most basic knowledge of SQL.  So I have to ask myself again and again how it is that such experienced people can manage to not have any knowledge about their field.  I think the answer is that these people don’t really have 10yrs of experience.  What they have is 1yr 10 times.  They never bother learning anything new or pushing their skills so they never get any advanced knowledge.  This is why the big conference speakers can give the same sessions year after year and always pack the big rooms.  Because there are more people out there who need the basics and they don’t even study the session material.  So they’re able to come back year after year and still learn something from the content.  And that’s not to say that the session isn’t fabulous.  It’s just to say that people should be getting tired of it and they’re not.

So you’ve got the bulk of our profession out there doing the bare minimum to survive.  It’s honestly like they’re potty training.  When you’re a kid and you start potty training you have a hard time at first, but once you get it, that’s it.  Once you’re potty trained there are no extra levels.  You either pee in your pants or you don’t.  And that’s how so many DBAs treat their jobs.  They’re learned a very small core of DBs and they think that’s it.  They can stop learning because they’ve potty trained in SQL.  Come on guys… that’s now how it works.  Learning SQL is more like chess.  There’s much more to it than just the basic moves of the pieces.  You eventually have to push yourself and learn to think in different ways. 

So all I wanted to tell all you guys is now that you’ve learned to not pee in your pants, start pushing yourself for more and actually get 10yrs experience, and stop repeating the same basic level of knowledge again and again.


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ScrappyLaptop said...

Nice post. I'd love to see you post your list of "DBA Developmental Stages". Something along the lines of, but with your commentary for each stage, of course:

1. Talking the Talk
2. Understanding Business Needs
3. (Profit!)
4. Realizing that programming .NET <> "SQL Dba"
5. Set Theory
6. Leaving the GUI Behind
7. Syntax and Style
8. Basic Performance Considerations
9. Under the hood: page organization, indexes, etc
10. Under the hood II: SQL engine - OS/hardware/network interaction
999. DBA Goddess/God

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Sean McCown
I am a Contributing Editor for InfoWorld Magazine, and a frequent contributor to as well as I live with my wife and 3 kids, and have practiced and taught Kenpo for 22yrs now.
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