One of the things that I try to advocate for is that more of you actively manage your careers and find ways to improve your skills. I want you to be more impressive and find an amazing job for you. Not my job, because I have the best job in the world, but I hope you find a job that you love as much as I love mine.
It does take effort, work, and focus. It’s something else to manage in life. I certainly don’t want you to only care about work. After all, we work to live, not live to work.
That being said, I think you can build the habit of regular career improvement. For those of you that work as DBAs, I found this list of things that help improve your productivity. The first few items are practical having a routine of things to check and a way to monitor your systems. Those are core skills and a base from which to build. I might stress backups, restores and DR as well, since the main thing is that you can protect and recover data if everything else falls apart.
However, the last few items are less tangible. How do you keep up, explore, and try things? In what area or topic should you start? What’s important? I find many people struggle with these less directed pieces of advice. If I want to keep up, what do I do? If I want to experiment or ask about something, what is the most efficient way to do this?
There’s advice in the article, but here’s my main thought. Don’t try to be efficient or perfect. Just pick the thing that’s in front of you. Pick something that someone asked you about and you didn’t know. Or maybe the thing that looked interesting? Just move forward.
Most of the work we do to improve ourselves isn’t tightly focused at first. It’s just a step forward and it’s not a permanent step. If you decide to start learning about something such as Availability Groups and then realize you don’t like this area or it isn’t important, just switch to something else. Your time isn’t wasted because even if you don’t use that skill, you learned about learning something. And you learned something about yourself and what you enjoy. Move on and try something else.
For me, I started SQL Server Central. but I liked newsletters similar to the one I send out each week because they gave me something to learn about. I used to troll forums at various places and see the “active threads“. I’d try to answer random questions, even if I didn’t post the answers. I started to blog and write, mostly to see if I could explain things back in a way that made sense. It became a career, but before that it was a way to impress hiring managers. It also forced me to learn more about little topics and all of that knowledge helped me to be more effective at my job.
Taking a little time every week to learn something, work on your career, and document it (hopefully as a #SQLNewBlogger). It is a good way to improve your skills and also showcase them for the next person that hires (or promotes) you. Hopefully into a position that you desire and choose.