If you found your way to my blog, the chances are good that you consider yourself a Junior DBA. The chances are also good that you’re wrong. I can hear you saying right now, “Damn, you’re good, how do you know all that?” Well, I’m glad you asked.
I still remember my first SQL Server User Group Meeting and feeling like the dumbest guy in the room. And for a couple of years, I continued to think of myself as a Junior DBA. So, I spent a small fortune on my own education. Took classes, attended meetings and SQL Saturdays, and paid my own way to my first PASS summit. However, I still felt like my skill set didn’t measure up.
Meanwhile, local community members tried to convince me that I wasn’t Junior at all. Sean McCown (Blog), Jason Massie, Tim Mitchell (Blog/Twitter), and Tim Costello (Blog/Twitter) all encouraged me to go out and find my new job. However, perception is reality and if you think you are a Junior, then that’s what you are.
About a year ago finally I started looking for new opportunities, and I realized something. I wasn’t a junior DBA and hadn’t been for some time. How did I come to this conclusion? The interview process. I had no problem passing any of the technical screens, nor did I have any major problems in any interview. I realized that my skills were better than the average bear. In fact, in one interview, the interviewer started jotting down notes as I pointed out several flaws in his SSIS Packages. Anyway as many of you know, last July I became a Senior Business Intelligence Consultant for a firm in Irving and since then my skills have increased exponentially as well. If you want a confidence boost, become a consultant and look at the majority of existing code out there. Trust me, it’s an eye opener.
I don’t know the origin, but I love the following quote.
Two campers in the woods see a bear approaching and one guy starts putting on his running shoes. The other guy asks, “what are you crazy? You can’t outrun a bear.” The guy with the running shoes replies, “I don’t have to outrun the bear, I just have to outrun you.”
The point is, when evaluating your skill level, compare yourself to the right group. I had been comparing myself to Brent Ozar (Blog/Twitter), Brian Knight (Blog/Twitter), Tim Mitchell (Blog/Twitter), Andy Leonard (Blog/Twitter), and Sean McCown (Blog). Notice a pattern there? They’re all SQL Server MVPs and a couple of them are Microsoft Certified Masters. So of course I felt like I was inferior. However, I don’t have to “outrun” these guys, I only have to run faster than the average DBA and compared to mere mortals, my skills are great.
This all came to a head recently when a friend from my user group lost his job and needed help finding a new one. I made some calls and such for him, but the most important contribution I had was advice about his attitude. Please allow me to pass it on to you as well.
If you’re still reading this, you’re most likely going to User Group Meetings, SQL Saturdays, and other events and therefore NOT a junior anything. Remember that what you think of your skills is what others think of them as well. Skills correlate to income and the more you think you’re worth, the better the offer you’re likely to receive. Take pride in what you’ve learned and be confident that you can learn any skill faster than the average person. Always try to secure a position a little higher than your current skill level and be prepared to raise your game so you can succeed in it.
If you’re not attending User Group Meetings and other PASS events like the upcoming SQLRally 2012, by all means get involved. SQLRally is in Dallas this year and I am in charge of the volunteers at this event so if you’d like to get more involved in the community, and I completely recommend it, message me. I’d be happy to help.
So if someone tells you that you’re a Junior DBA, or you’re telling yourself that very thing, be more confident in your abilities and always be working to improve.