Ramblings of a DBA

Tara Kizer
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What three events brought you here?

Paul Randal recently blogged about three life-changing events that brought him to where he is today.  His blog is a very interesting read and idea, and so I bring to you my three events that brought me to where I am today in my technical career as a SQL Server DBA.

Right out of high school and during the first two years of college, I worked as a student worker for the District Attorney's Office at the County of San Diego performing data entry and other forgettable tasks.  During this job, I worked with a previous classmate whose mom worked in another division at the County of San Diego.  It was communicated to her mom that I was interested in a technical career.  The mom was able to get an interview for me with the DBA team in the Information Services division at the County of San Diego.  The position was only as a student worker, but it was a technical position so I jumped at the opportunity when the job was offered to me.  I remained a student worker in the DBA team until I graduated from college with a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics with emphasis in Computer Science.  I was then hired full-time to be a Junior DBA in the same group.

I remained a Junior DBA until the IT department was outsourced to Computer Sciences CorporationThis is the second significant event.  Rather than take the generous severance package that was offered to any employees who did not wish to be part of the outsourcing, I decided to instead transfer to CSC as an Intermediate DBA.  CSC was located in San Diego, so I didn't need to move or commute far away.  At CSC, I met my husband which is a very significant event in my life but not relevant to this blog. 

After about two years at CSC, I was so unhappy with my management that it drove me to find another job.  I had been interviewing for about six months without any success when I happened to be at an interview and saw a former co-worker there.  It turns out that I was interviewing for his position which he had already vacated (he was just there visiting and picking up some of his things).  I surely wasn't qualified for the position, but this chance encounter is the third significant event.  He contacted me a few weeks later and let me know of a DBA position that had opened up in his group at the new company, Qualcomm Incorporated.  I interviewed for it a few days later.  Although they were looking for a Senior DBA, my former co-worker decided to take a chance with me since he had mentored me at the County of San Diego and was aware of my possibilities.  They hired me as an Intermediate DBA.  The rest is history. 

I have been at Qualcomm for 8 years and love every minute of it.  I am now a Staff DBA (one level higher than Senior).  My mentor still works at the same company as me, however he has moved on to other things.  I am eternally grateful to him for all of the things that I learned and for taking a chance when there were more seasoned candidates interviewing for the position. 

If it weren't for my former classmate's mom landing me an interview for a student worker position in the DBA team, I don't know where I would be in my technical career.  I suppose I would have eventually made it into a DBA position since the skills match me perfectly, but it probably would have been a long journey to get there.

If it weren't for transferring to the new company during the IT outsourcing, I may never have ended up at my current company where I absolutely love my job.  I also wouldn't have met my husband.

And finally if it weren't for my mentor and former co-worker, I wouldn't be where I am today.  I owe my career to him.  Hopefully he accepts my gratitude instead of a monetary gift, haha!

Print | posted on Tuesday, January 19, 2010 10:14 AM | Filed Under [ SQL Server - General ]

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# re: What three events brought you here?

Great Post....BUT...you must understand, that life, marriage, kids...are the most important thing in life...life is short....enjoy every moment!

1/19/2010 10:52 AM | Brett Kaiser
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# re: What three events brought you here?

I completely agree, but the point of the blog article is about my career not about my non-work life.
1/19/2010 2:36 PM | Tara
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# re: What three events brought you here?

And without you being a DBA, I'd never have come up with my classic pickup line for your competition "hey baby, want to hear about some undocumented DBCC commands?" :-)

Thanks for sharing!
1/19/2010 10:49 PM | Paul Randal
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# re: What three events brought you here?

Thanks for the post. You write that "I was so unhappy with my management that it drove me to find another job", which recalled to mind this 'law of management' --

Deirdre Saoirse Moen's Law of Management

"Bad managers always outlast good employees."

Management should be expected to always terminate the staffer and protect the manager. Therefore, if you find yourself under such a manager, move sideways to elsewhere but never, ever, file complaints with the company instead.

Why do companies consistently do this, strongly contrary to their long-term self-interest? Some guesses: 1. Inherently, managers are given more trust than the employees they manage. Thus, in a conflict, upper management will typically back the manager. 2. Many managers have contractual arrangements that make them very difficult (and slow) to terminate. 3. Management typically cares not at all about who's the reasonable party, but just wants the immediate problem to vanish. Firing the peon is less troublesome; peons tend not to sue, and the embarrassment and organisational disruption costs are lower. 4. Relevant to the prior point, firing the manager would implicitly reflect discredit on higher-ups who vouched for him. 5. In cases where the manager might have committed torts or crimes, management often fears terminating his/her job might, ironically, increase company liability for those acts. 6. Short-term thinking is the rule in most businesses, rather than the exception.
3/25/2010 3:36 PM | Doug Milam
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