Challenge Yourself

I am a proponent of blogging as a way to build your brand. Your work showcases your knowledge, thought process, and interests. It provides a way for potential employers to perform due diligence and determine if you are a good fit for their team and position. Blogging can also help you to learn more about your craft and focus your learning. After all, it’s been said that if you can’t explain something to others, perhaps you don’t really understand it.

As I meet people, and talk to them about blogging, I often get asked “what should I write about?”. The easy answer is to write about the things that you do on a regular basis, the problems you solve at work, and the solutions you implement. However, what do you write about if you don’t do much at work and are looking to learn new topics. If you want to show that you are building experience with SQL Server in a way that isn’t required at your current position?

I think it’s easy, and I’ll give you a few ideas. First, build a lab at home. These days it’s easy (and free) with VirtualBox and a little memory, both of which can be had for relatively small investments. Next, start following the #tsql2sday tag on Twitter and challenge yourself to get a post written every month. However don’t stop there. I keep a list of previous topics and you can go back and write a post for every one of those topics. Your effort won’t be in the recap, but you’ll force yourself to learn, or at least explain, your thoughts in those areas.

If you want additional challenges, read a question like this one on splitting strings. Don’t read the replies, but try to answer the question on your own by writing a blog that explains your solution. You can link to the post and show how you would solve the issue if you encountered it. If you want to press yourself further, go through my list of article requests and pick one. It doesn’t matter if the article has been written and published or not. Write your own solution on your own blog, as I saw Jason Carter do here for this request on exporting XML files. Feel free to submit your post as an article, and maybe we’ll publish your solution as well.

There are so many ways to challenge yourself and learn more about SQL Server that it could be a full time endeavor by itself. Please don’t make it one, and remember to balance your career growth with the rest of your life. However, do continue to work regularly on your career, and showcase your knowledge. It’s good practice for your communication skills, and you never know when you might count on the wide breadth of knowledge you’ve documented to help you land that dream job.

Steve Jones

The Voice of the DBA Podcast

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About way0utwest

Editor, SQLServerCentral
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