My life in the work force began like many others, as a waiter at a Greek restaurant in my home town, Newtown, CT. After graduating from high school I ran off to join the Navy so that I could afford a college education. Time in the Navy was a bit frustrating to me. The Navy, like the rest of the military and all areas of our government, is bogged down with a lot of bureaucracy and the written rules, and the made up ones that come in the form of orders, were absolute, almost immune to challenge. So, when I would find something that I felt I could improve, it was very difficult to accomplish. What I ended up resorting to was keeping calm in the moment and devising long term (sometimes multiple year) plans of improvement. The good I could do wasn’t going to come in short, gratifying bursts.
Now that my time in the Navy and my under-graduate degree are complete, I find myself with a desire to look far ahead and always ask myself what my goals are and how to achieve them. This drive is what causes me to seek out advice from others on career growth, such as…
- Joshua Feierman – On Adopting the Mindset of an Enterprise DBA
- Brent Ozar – How to get “Senior” in your Title
These works, among many others, inspired me to begin My Epic Life Quest and start to see the path ahead while reflecting back on the successes and failures I’ve made so far.
There is a wealth of great advice and knowledge out there. I’m not going to summarize their works but I will point out that, in a DBA’s world, automation is a common theme for success. It is because of this that I’ve acquired a positive outlook on some of my most difficult and stressful times as a DBA. My first position that I took, after leaving the Navy, was as an operational DBA for a company who had half a dozen skilled DBAs but never had a team specifically for supporting their production environment. They had database developers moonlighting as production DBAs and data architects stepping up in a pinch. These DBAs were capable but they need to build out a dedicated team for the number of servers that the company had. I was hired with the intent for additional hires to come once we established the scope of work for the team and worked out some of the processes.
I bet you guys can imagine what happened next. It was about 2 years before the company decided to continue filling out my team. In the interim I was a junior DBA with the responsibilities of at least 3 mid-level to senior DBAs. I was being crushed with work but was unwilling to yield. I refused to allow my first job, in my career path, be one filled with failure. This experience forced me, within my first year as a DBA, to write unattended PowerShell scripts for my server installs. I designed and developed a maintenance database to automate a large number of my tasks and built out a standardized alert system for the company.
So, for all of the over worked and struggling DBAs out there, look at this time as your opportunity. This is the time to become the enterprise DBA. Cherish this opportunity to realize the value of automation. Some of us will enter positions were automation was setup before we were hired, or might never be in a situation where we can clearly see the value in paying the up-front cost of developing the automation compared to the long-term savings of having it.