This month’s T-SQL Tuesday is hosted by Wendy Pastrick (b|t) and the topic is change in our work lives. Thanks to Wendy for hosting and to Adam Machanic (b|t) for putting this installment of T-SQL Tuesday together.
Fifteen years ago, I was working in a bookstore at the University of Illinois-Chicago. I’d graduated a year earlier with a degree in history. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but I was confident it didn’t involve grad school or retail.
In November of 1988, I enrolled in the Computer Career Program at DePaul University. The program was geared to turning non-technical people into mainframe programmers. It had been around since the early ’80′s, but saw a surge in enrollment during the run up to Y2K. After three months, I was certified to code in COBOL and JCL and these skills landed me my first real job*.
I spent the next seven years writing code for the mainframe and learning to work with DB2 databases. I was fortunate to learn from a number of extremely talented programmers and DBAs during that time. I got my first exposure to internals as well, a love that has stuck with me to this day.
In 2007, a position opened on the SQL Server DBA team at my company and I made the switch. Once again, I was fortunate to work with a number of experienced and talented people who took the time to teach me what they knew.
About that time, I started attending the local PASS user group and began to meet others who were as passionate about databases as I was. I went to my first Summit in 2009 and this year will be my fifth. I am continually amazed at the willingness of PASS members to share their experience and knowledge. I took over the Chicago SQL Server User Group (b|t) last July with Aaron Lowe (b|t), and it has been great. I’ve presented at three user group meetings and two SQL Saturdays in the past year. Meeting members of the local group and getting the chance to work with other chapter leaders and mentors has expanded my horizons.
In October of last year, I started a new job at a new company. It has been a good experience, and though there have been challenges I am working to view those challenges as opportunities.
Going forward, my plan is for my path to lead me to expanding my knowledge of SQL Server. I want to keep presenting to share what I know with others. The path I’m on has given me an opportunity to grow personally, professionally and intellectually, and I want to provide those things to others.
* A job where I wasn’t paid hourly
I have been working as a SQL Server DBA for about six years and my interests tend toward internals. However, I’ve been co-president of the Chicago SQL Server User Group since July of last year and in that time I’ve met a number of people who have been interested in working as a DBA but don’t know where to get started. This has inspired a series of posts covering an introduction to SQL Server. Topics covered will include:
- An overview of relational databases and SQL Server
- Downloading and installing SQL Server
- Creating a database
- Creating a table
- Creating an index
- Methods for loading test data
- SQL Server security
- Database backup and restore
- SQL Agent jobs
I am planning on posting these topics once a week over the next few months. If you have questions about a post or are interested in seeing other topics covered, let me know in the comments.
Yesterday was SQL Saturday Chicago, and it wrapped up a week where I presented four times in seven days. Things started out with my presentation at SQL Saturday Madison last Saturday. You can read my post about that here.
The April meeting of the Chicago SQL Server User Group was Thursday and I presented on Tools to Make Make Multi-object Administration Easier. About 30 people turned out and I think it went pretty well. Each time I present, I get more comfortable using ZoomIt and my presentation remote. Thanks to everyone who came out for the meeting, especially to those who provided feedback.
The speaker dinner was Friday night at La Hacienda in Addison. The food was good and the company was better. I met Mark Vaillancourt (b|t) and Hope Foley (b|t) for the first time and was able to catch up with other members of SQLFamily.
I don’t know if it was pre-presenting jitters, but I had trouble sleeping and spent a few early-morning hours tweaking my demos and learning how to use a VMWare snapshot. This is the first presentation I’ve used a VM and I’ve realized my Windows admin skills are lacking. I plan on getting much practice in the coming months.
Things were well under way when I made to DeVry at about 8:15 a.m. After talking to volunteers Bill Lescher (t) and Bob Pusateri (b|t), I grabbed some grub and made my way up to the speaker’s room, joining Aaron Lowe (b|t), Ted Krueger (b|t), David Klee (b|t) and Erin Stellato (b|t). It was my first time in a speaker room and it was great being there with such a distinguished group.
I made my way down to my room as Ed Leighton-Dick was finishing up his presentation on Service Broker and was able to set up. I presented to a group of seven, I am hoping because I was presenting at the same time as Erin Stellato and David Klee. There were some good questions and I am glad to have another presentation under my belt. You can find the slides and scripts from my presentation here.
After lunch, I joined Ted Krueger and Ross LoForte to provide a group of DeVry students an introduction to SQL Server. Ted gave an overview of SQL Server, Ross got into more detail about the various SQL Server components and I finished up with how a database works. I am happy to have had a chance to give back to DeVry, as they’ve generously donated space for SQL Saturday the last three years.
I closed out the day with Erin Stellato’s presentation on Demystifying Database Statistics. I was my second internals presentation of the week, and it reminded me what I love about SQL Server most and has inspired to dedicate more time to studying.
I started volunteering at the Art Institute of Chicago in 2006. Since then, I’ve been assigned as a greeter, which means I spend most of my time giving directions and answering patrons questions about the collections. Over the years, I’ve done what I can to learn more about the collections by spending time in the galleries, attending lectures and reading.
When the museum opened the Modern Wing in 2009, the Volunteer Coordinator asked if I would be interested in giving tours of the new building. I jumped at the chance and set out to prepare myself. I put together a list of my favorite stories about the collection and spent time walking through the galleries, honing what I would say and timing myself.
The night of the first tour, I was nervous, thinking about all of the things that could go wrong. But as I introduced myself and started the tour, I realized I knew what I was talking about and the hours of practice were paying off.
Since then, I’ve led several dozen tours through different parts of the collections. Every one of them has been different, but they have all been a tremendous experience and I’ve learned something new every time.
At this point, you are probably asking yourself, “What does the Art Institute have to do with T-SQL Tuesday?” Well, it was a little over a year ago that I gave my first presentation on SQL Server. Like the Art Institute, it is a subject I love sharing my knowledge of. Since that first presentation, I’ve presented at two user groups and a SQL Saturday. I am presenting at SQL Saturday Chicago this week and at FoxPASS in June.
Each time I’ve presented, I have had a great time and learned something new. If you are interested in getting started, I would offer a few pieces of advice:
- Present on a subject you are passionate about. Your love of the subject will come through.
- Practice. The more you practice, the more comfortable you’ll be and the smoother things will go.
- Take advantage of the opportunity to learn the topic. You will be surprised how much you know when you get done.
- Finally, don’t get discouraged. While I’ve enjoyed every presentation I’ve done, there is always room for improvement. Ask your audience for feedback and use it to hone your skills. And take this advice from MidnightDBA (b|t) about comparing yourself to others.
I just finished giving my first presentation at a SQL Saturday. The hour is quite a blur, but based on the evaluations and personal feedback I received it went well. I was really happy with the turnout and there were some great questions.
I made a point of asking folks to provide feedback and got some good suggestions. One request was to provide mode information about VLF use, so I plan on incorporating the concepts Kimberly Tripp provides here into an update.
The slides and scripts for my presentation are available here.
Many thanks to the folks who organized SQL Saturday Madison and to the attendees of my session. Being a part of the SQL family continues to be a inspiring and invigorating experience.
Saturday, April 6th is the first stop on the SkreebyDBA Midwest Tour 2013. I will be presenting on Interrogating the Transaction Log at SQL Saturday Madison. If you are in the area and would like to register, you can do so here. If you’ve never been to a SQL Saturday, it is a great opportunity to get a free day of training and meet others in the SQL community.
The second stop on the tour will be the April meeting of the Chicago SQL Server User Group, Thursday April 11th. I will be presenting on Tools to Make Multi-object Administration Easier. If you are interested, register here before 4pm on April 9th.
The final stop on the tour is SQL Saturday Chicago, Saturday, April 13th. I’ll be doing the Multi-object Administration presentation again. This will be my third SQL Saturday Chicago, and it is also the third at DeVry University in Addison. DeVry has donated the space each year, and I’ll be helping present an introduction to SQL Server to a group of DeVry students with Ted Krueger (b|t) and Bill Lescher (t). You can find more information about SQL Saturday Chicago and register here.
As I said, this will be my third SQL Saturday Chicago. At my first, I saw Jes Borland (b|t) present on Making Your Voice Heard!. Now two years later, I’ll be presenting at my second SQL Saturday. I feel extremely fortunate to be a part of the SQL Community and encourage you to get involved as well.
I’ve been selected to present on Tools to Make Multi-Object Administration Easier at SQL Saturday 211 on April 13th. Many thanks to Ted Krueger (b|t) and the rest of the SQL Saturday Chicago folks. If you live in the Chicago area, I highly recommend registering. It is a free day of SQL Server training and is an excellent opportunity to meet other members of the SQL Server family.
At my first SQL Saturday in 2011, I was fortunate enough to attend Jes Borland’s presentation Make Your Voice Heard! This was the first time I realized I might have something to offer the community. Two years later, I’ve been blogging for a year and am 2 months away from my first and second SQL Saturday presentations. Thanks Jes!