Category Archives: Career

Upcoming Speaking Events

This is going to be a very busy next few months for me. Besides putting on some really cool and rocking events in the next few months I will also be speaking.  Hopefully in several different states.  I’m working on blog posts to go along with these presentations but for now here’s what I’m currently presenting on and when.

Building a Cost Effective Reporting system.

This presentation is all about using the right tool for the job.  At my current company we moved from a vertical scale system to a horizontally scalable system.   SQL Server does a lot of things really well but scale horizontally is not one of them.  Using a mix of open source technologies and SQL Server we were able to get a highly scalable system at a much better cost.  If you have been looking into #bigData technologies and what you can do with them(or what all the buzz is about) this is a great presentation to get you started and show you what can be done when you use the right tools for the job.

I will be presenting this at SQL Saturday #271 in Albuquerque NM coming up on the 25th of this month.  This is going to be a really fun event with lots of great presenters.  Check out the schedule to see the great lineup.   It will before the First SQL Saturday that I am presenting at that I did not in some way organize or help put on so this should be very interesting for me to observe just as a speaker and attendee.

I’ve submitted this same topic to Sql Saturday #287 and Sql Saturday #295.  I hope to be able to present at both of these events in the next few months.

Along with presenting I’m working on 2 other Major events coming up in the next few months.  Utah Code Camp will be held on March 15th 2014.  This will be our largest event to date and the most diverse with many varied topics all related to technology in some way.

Big Mountain Data is coming up April 12th 2014.  This will be an event all about Big Data.  Whether you are an expert in the field or just getting started and want to know how to work with big data we will have something for everyone.  You can register now and we hope to have the schedule up very soon for this event.

I’m looking forward to a very busy next 4-5 months and hopefully I will see many of you at one of these events.

My Road Map….Someone folded it (T-SQL Tuesday #42)

tsql2sday

This month’s T-SQL Tuesday is brought to us from Wendy Pastrick (Blog |Twitter). She wanted us to talk about the road map in our career or what we have done to get to the point we are now in our career.  

This is an interesting idea for me for 2 reasons.  1.  While you are reading this I’m driving to Las Vegas for a conference for my company.  So you could say I’m driving on my road map now!  The other reason I’ll explain below.

Personally it’s very interesting for me to look back on my Road Map since it’s changed greatly since when I started.  I can still remember being a Customer Service Lead and talking to my manager when she asked me where I wanted to be in 5 years.  I said I was hoping to get a CAN/CNE certification and be a Network Administrator.  6 months later we inherited a Database app from another company and my life changed forever.  I became the accidental DBA we all talk about and from that point forward started a path towards the data world.

Fast forward about 10 years and here I am facing another new path.  For the last several months my focus and time has been on the Hadoop Ecosystem.  1.5 years ago I started with a new company and ran into a similar problem I’ve faced many times.  Reads/Writes contending on the same SQL DB because we had no reporting environment to send the queries against, I set out to create such a reporting environment and both succeeded and failed in a lot of ways.  We’ve decided now to take the good from that environment and migrate it into a Lamp/open source system that can horizontally scale at an excellent cost to the company.  We are about a month out from some really serious testing of the system and I’m about as excited as I have ever been about any technology I’ve used.

What my “Road Map” has taught me through all these years is best summed up by one of my all-time favorite sayings.

“It’s not about the Destination, It’s about the Journey”

I’ve learned that even though I have had many destinations on my road map, the place that I’ve learned the most and grown the most as a Data Professional were the times when I went on a journey to find something.  My suggestion to anyone working on the Road Map is pick out some destinations but make sure you take that road less travelled from time to time.  I think you will find you will look back on those times more than any destination you reach.

Good luck in your Journey!

DBA Job Hunting Tips Part 2

I wanted to follow up to this post DBA Job Hunting Tips.  I received a resume from one candidate that I really liked how they organized the information about themselves.  It went in line with many of the things from that first blog post.  The candidate didn’t want to share the resume so I simply made a new header for my resume and will use that.  Below is an example of a really simple clean header that gives me all the information I need to look this person up online and saves me a lot of time.

As you can see I listed out my blog, Twitter feed and LinkedIn profile.  This gives the person looking at this resume easy access to all the work related information they need for me online.  If you speak often a link to your SpeakerRate profile would be a good idea as well.  You should always go out of your way to make it easy for a hiring manager to find information about you.   That person may be going through hundreds of resume and saving the hiring manager time is a good idea.

Since I’ve been doing interviews all week here are a few tips as well.

  1.  Be passionate!  Make it sound like you really want to work here you are applying for the job so I’m assuming you really do want to work here.  This is a very important point for me.
  2. You will not have all the answers, Let me make that 100% clear you will *NOT* have all the answers.  Don’t  be afraid to say I don’t know but I have these resources to use at my disposal (google,twitter,blogs,friends and etc…) and describe how you would find the answer.
  3. Don’t afraid to be technical.  You may be doing an interview with a HR person that doesn’t know SQL from Perl.  Don’t be afraid to ask how technical do you want me to go?  List out direct statements if you can or if they want a technical answer.
  4. Be early.  Notice I didn’t say on time.  Again show me that you want to work here if you are excited and really want to work here then you need to show me that.
  5. Practice!  Hold mock interviews with your friends.  Go present at a user group to get used to talking in front of people. If you can get in on doing an interview I suggest it to get another perspective.
  6. Keep a clean appearance,  If this is a phone interview you can ignore this but sooner or later you’ll need to do a in person face to face interview when that happens dress appropriately.  I’m not a big fan of a suit and tie for interviews typically because I’m interviewing developers / DBA and we don’t normally wear that every day in our work environment. Wear something you will be comfortable in but still looks professional.  Bonus points if you wear a really geeky shirt like from www.thinkgeek.com.

The key item on this list for me is #1.  When someone does not a question I see that as a teaching opportunity for a candidate that really wants to learn.  If the person is not passionate then I’m assuming they don’t want to learn and don’t want to move forward with the career they have chosen.

These tips are very subjective as everyone interviews and hires people differently this is what works for me and what I look for but no matter who you are talking to if you are passionate about the subject it will show.

New beginnings

My world keeps changing.

Recently I was approached by this wonderful gentleman that needed some help with some DB work and he offered a lunch to discuss the position.  I figured I would go to lunch and let him know about the great events we had coming up in the community that could not only help him find someone but could get his team exposed to lots of great content.   Unfortunately I’m a lousy sales person.   Adam (@AdamEdmunds) told me about the SSAS projects they had in the works and what they were looking to do and I was intrigued.  After a few more emails and discussions I was hooked on the idea.

In a few short weeks I’ll start with Allegiance.   I’m really stoked about getting started on the projects they are currently working on.  We collect Survey/Feedback for customers from multiple sources to present that data to the customer.   I’ll be working as a Dba/DW/Architect basically anything that is needed on the DB.  One of the unique aspects to the company is providing DW/BI as a service to our customers.  For anyone that knows and understands the DW/BI space it’s not a simple thing to use a SAAS (Software as a Service) model for DW/BI.  This should be an excellent challenge that I’ll share in the future though blogging.  Looking forward to the challenge the position will bring.  If you’re at the summit and you do a DW/BI in a SAAS model I would love to chat!

Tomorrow I’ll be back to my blogging about the PASS summit coming up next week!  See you all there!

Giving your notice Post 3/3 The Last day on the job

This is the final installment in a blog series about leaving your employer.  Series starts here.

This might take you a little more than the last day but as soon as you have finished wrapping up what the company needs for documentation/knowledge transfer you should work on these items.

Cleanup

I don’t mean finding that tuna on rye that you lost in your office 2 months ago.  Depending on how long you have been at a company you could have amassed a lot of stuff. Not only physical but virtual as well, perhaps you have been a good steward of your own data and there is no personal items on your computer usually this is not the case.  Go through your computer and make sure you have removed the personal files you feel that you still need or delete the ones you don’t.  Leave any company items in tact on your computer in case the company has a need for them in the future. If you have lots of physical stuff in your office brining a bin or some boxes to get it all out is a good idea to get around making hundreds of trips to the car.

Saying See You Later

I don’t like to say goodbye on the last day. This is because I see many people I work with later at a Code Camp or SQL Saturday or user group meeting.  The world is getting smaller all the time and we run into each other more and more I know I’ll run into many of the people again.  This is also a good way to let everyone know you’re leaving. Perhaps someone missed the memo on the exact day or didn’t get the message from your boss whatever the reason it’s better to let them know you won’t be there tomorrow to fix the problem when the server goes down.

The Final Email

Depending on the size of your company sending a goodbye email to ALL might not be a good idea.  I typically reserve my final email to my immediate team and perhaps a few more individuals.  What you say in this email is entirely up to you.  My suggestion is keep it professional and remember you will most likely work with them or see them again in the community.

Leaving a company is not something many of us really want to talk about but it still is an important aspect of our working lives and hopefully this helps people to understand what to expect.  As I mentioned earlier this is a general experiences that I have had with companies.  Every company is different and these things will change for you. Make sure to stay professional in whatever you do when leaving and that will help you in the future.

Giving your notice Post 2/3 Short Timer Syndrome

This is a follow up in a blog series about leaving your employer.  Series starts here.

I’m sure most have heard of it before.  You’ve given your two weeks’ notice and now you can relax and sit back for 2 weeks and watch all the MCM videos out there.  “What are they going to do fire you?” Not so fast, I typically find my last 2 weeks in some companies to be the busiest times I have been there.  Once the company knows you are leaving they want to do everything they can to get any knowledge you have about the systems you have worked on out of you.  They are worried about someone not being able to do your role when you’re gone or to manage that large batch processing engine you wrote 2 years ago.

Wrap up Projects

The company and role you played will primarily dictate what the priority is for you in your last two weeks.  If you were working on major projects they will probably suggest finishing any major coding work and getting that checked in and handed off to someone else.  This would not be the time to start any new projects but mainly to finish up any that you have been working on.  If you are in the middle of the project and can’t complete it before the bomb explodes then you’ll most likely have a person shadowing you so they can take over when you’re gone.

Brain Dump

The company will want a Knowledge Transfer/Brain Dump/Documentation.  This is the time you go back to all the projects you have done and either refresh the documentation (we all keep good documentation right?) or write the documentation that has been missing from your projects.  This could take a short or long time depending on how much you have worked on and how long you have been there.  If you have a good cross trained team that you work with as well this might be less work since the others already know what they need to know.  Either way this is an important step, as I mentioned in the previous post it’s important to meet the companies’ needs during this process. I’m always happy to teach what I know and document the processes the last thing I want from any company I leave is for them to have a hard time managing something I’ve done.  When I complete my documentation of the items I typically zip the files together into a package and then either Email or place them on a share for my Boss to send out to whoever needs them.

Meet With Departments/Project Managers

Your boss may take care of this for you or it might be on your plate but meet with department heads/managers and find out anything that they might need to have documented that you may not have thought of.  You may not be able to meet the demand of all the groups.  If you make a list of what is needed and check off what you have done this gives you something to show that you made an effort to complete everything they asked for.

Next we’ll wrap up the series with the last day.

Giving your notice Post 1/3 Moving Day

As I mentioned in my last post I took some time off for the holidays.  Of course what I didn’t mention in that post is that the New Year brings a new position for me as well.  I’ve accepted a position as a Director of Data management at a new company and will begin work next week.  I’m really looking forward to the position as I will be able to work with some other RDBMS technologies that I have had little exposure to in the past( Mysql, Oracle).  I will also get to design new reporting and DataWarehouse systems. I don’t know about you but that’s fun to me.  None of my community activities will change I’m even ramping up some of them even more since we are talking a lot more on at the Utah Geek Events with running the Code Camp and assisting with the Pod Camp as well.  This is going to be a big year for me and I look forward to it.

Lots of people have discussed what to do as a new DBA and your first days on the job.  What about your last days on the job?  Perhaps it’s just a given everyone understands what you need to do when you leave a company or intend to leave a company?  I figured I would get some blog posts out on what I typically do and how I handle leaving a company.  Here’s the first section and I’ll get the additional items in future blog posts.  While reading these keep in mind they are general suggestions that have served me well through the years every company is different and you will run into different situations.

Communication

Let me just start with saying Communication is key in any position.  How you work with your manager and others around you is very important. Before you give any company that 2 week notice please communicate with your manager if you’re concerned about certain things.  If they are not aware of your displeasure or issues you have they cannot attempt to fix them and that’s not fair to you or the company.  This is just a general rule there are cases where you need to get out of a position because of unfair treatment or monetary concerns.

The 2 week notice

So how do you give your 2 weeks?  Most companies will say they require something in writing. I 100% agree with this idea. I have yet to leave a position without giving an email that would give the details to clearly let the company know I’m leaving and when (It’s in writing because they can print it). I always CC the email to an external address so I have a record of the email and when it was sent.   I always follow up that email with a meeting with my boss. I’ll typically send it out early in the morning so that I can meet with him/her later that day.  The follow up meeting to me is very important, I value all the people I have worked with in the past and will most likely work with again in the future so I want to do my best to make them comfortable with my decisions.  I also want to give them the chance to discuss those decisions.

The Counter Offer

For some you may be given a counter offer from your current employer to try and keep you.  I have never accepted a Counter Offer after giving my two weeks.  I typically suggest to people that they need to make up their mind before getting to this stage.  Make sure this is what you want and you are firm with this decision.  No matter how great the offer is most likely the reasons you were willing to leave still exist.  You are also seen differently from that point forward from the company since your loyalty will be in question.  This is why I suggest good communication, if you are unhappy in your job then you need to let the company know sooner rather than later that you are unhappy.

This is first in the series next up I’ll discuss how to spend your final two weeks.