It’s that time of the month again for a T-SQL Tuesday blog party. This month is hosted by Kenneth Fisher, who has hosted a few times in the past. I like this topic, and it’s a good one for me to think back to my earlier career.
I am very curious to see what others might write.
It’s Who You Know
Perhaps one of the things that I learned early and didn’t believe is that networking, connections, and who you know matter more than what you know. The what is certainly important and can help you succeed in day to day work, but for landing jobs, networking is king.
I actually had my first technical job as a computer person in high school. I had gotten interested in computers and owned a Commodore Vic-20 and 512, and later an Apple II compatible. My Mom wasn’t sure about spending all the money, but she did and I spent hours digging into how things worked.
My neighbor owned a construction business, laying water and sewer pipe. Later I worked in that side of the business, but the spring of my junior year he was struggling to implement a new estimation and inventory program on his first PC. His secretary was a nice lady, but in her 50s and in the early 80s, computers were completely foreign. He chatted to my Mom about things and she said I might be able to help.
This was the first time I was thrown into a situation where I didn’t know a lot, but it wasn’t the last. In fact, these same skills were useful as a consultant:
- reading manuals
- grasping the relation between quickly written words after the fact and software
- experimenting without causing breakage
- making backups and learning to restore
- explaining how software worked or needed configuration in layman’s terms
- perseverance when you are struggling
- projecting confidence when you don’t feel you have much
These were the things I had to do over a few weeks as I learned how the software worked, installed it (a few times), set things up, and worked with the secretary and a few foreman to help configure things the way they wanted them. I also had to train them to use the software to enter data.
Outside of school, this was my first technical job. I think I got paid $10 or $12 an hour at the time when most jobs were $3.35/hr at minimum wage. No big earnings, but I probably made enough to buy a few $50 video games or software games.
The rest, as they say, is history.
BTW, laying water pipe a couple summers later taught me a lot as well.