So in my last post I talked about my personal journey. In this post I’ll go step-by-step what I did to help along the path of learning all this SQL goodness.
Tip 1 – Crawl Before You Walk…
Don’t know what a SQL statement is? Think T-SQL is an alternative to Coffee-SQL? Fear not, like everything else in this crazy world there’s tons of resources to learn from. One of the first places I learned anything from was W3 Schools website. The site is more aimed at web developers but they have a section for learning SQL (note: SQL is NOT SQL Server. SQL is a language, SQL Server is a product). There are also numerous other websites that teach SQL from the ground up such as SQL Tutorial or SQLCourse. A quick Google search will get you a plethora of options.
Tip 2 – Choose Thy Path!
Moving on from learning basic SQL syntax its time to learn your product. To learn by theory is one thing but its another to have hands on experience with the tools and actually see what a query result looks like and what not. Now I realize that I’m a SQL Server guy but I’ll be fair and list several vendor options. These are all the free editions of the respective platforms:
While I gave several options, this blog is SQL Server-centric so my examples and walk-throughs will keep within that realm. Which brings us to the next step…
Step 3 – Don’t Pigeon Hole Yourself, LEARN EVERYTHING!
Ok maybe not everything but you get the gist. This tip not only applies to learning your specific product but pretty much anything. Just because you’re a DBA doesn’t mean you shouldn’t/can’t learn some basic web development so you know what’s going on on the other side of your queries and vice versa. One of the things that allowed me to reach my current position is that I was always looking to learn more, more, more. Yes, I’m a SQL Server guy but what’s Oracle? How’s it work? What are the differences between SQL Server and Oracle? What else is out there? Even within SQL Server you have so much to learn than just basic server setup. There’s not only the administration piece but there’s also performance tuning, all the business intelligence pieces and the wide world of development and much more. I personally ended up going down the DBA track myself but I still like to play around with the Business Intelligence pieces like Reporting Services and SSIS since they’re interesting pieces unto themselves and work-wise I’m a better employee and professional if I’m able to understand all the pieces of the puzzle.
Tip 4 – There’s a Community, Make Use of It
One of the best things I ever did was start attending user groups. My first experience with them was with the Tampa VMware User Group
community. I lucked out since my manager volunteered to be the group’s leader so meetings were held in our offices. The meetings were useful since you got to meet others in the community who made use of the same technology in different ways. Getting to meet others and swap stories was a really cool experience. From there I learned about the local SQL user groups (SQL Server
and the BI group
) and started attending those. Lately I’ve been branching out more in to the community by making use of social networking tools such as LinkedIn and Twitter. I’ve also started contributing to the community by starting this blog. I can’t tell you how much more satisfying experience it has been, for me anyways, to really be actively involved in the technical community.
Tip 5 – That Guy Seems Smart, Let’s Ask Him!
Before I started getting actively involved with the community my primary objective was just to learn, learn, learn! In doing so one of the first things you’ll learn besides the topic you’re focusing on is who are the people in your field who are the respective experts. For instance it was a SQL Saturday
event that I attended where I first learned about Brian Knight
and how he was one of the best SSIS gurus around. So from then on whenever I needed to learn something related to SSIS I would defer to his blogs and his recommendations. I’m sure everyone has their own methods of learning from others but I just wanted to share my methodology. Another method that pays off is finding not only those guys who know their stuff but are also entertaining (that’s how I discovered Brent Ozar
Tip 6 – Never Stop Learning
This week is the SSWUG Virtual Conference and one of the great things that I’ve witnessed is that even the field experts are always learning something new from everyone else. In my opinion the one greatest thing to move forward is the willingness to always keep learning. And almost as important is this quote I heard once: “The ability to succeed is directly proportional to your ability to ask for help.”
So that’s pretty much all I can think of for now. Feel free to add your own tidbits and advice in comments below!