Mike Walsh tagged me in his blog post, Things You Know Now…, and asked, “It doesn’t have to be DBA skills, but what do you wish you knew when you were starting?” This is a really great question, and I’ve given it some pretty serious consideration. Here’s my top 3:
Just because you don’t know everything doesn’t mean you know nothing.
It’s taken me a few years to figure this one out. I’ve come to the hard realization that, no matter how much I know about something (*coughsqlservercough*), I will never know everything. There will always be some new feature, or some new language, that you just won’t have the time or need to learn. And while there’s value in being a Jack-or-Jill-of-all-trades, there’s probably more value in knowing a few things really well. Pick what you love and dive into it wholeheartedly. Make sure you stay current on technologies, so you don’t get outdated, but do so within your specific area. You’ll love your job and be a more valuable employee for it.
Give back to the community, and don’t be afraid of looking stupid.
Whether you’re afraid to ask a question or provide an answer, don’t be. I’ve found that, as long as you approach it intelligently and politely, you’ll be fine. Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.” I believe this wholeheartedly. For me, starting a blog wasn’t nearly as scary as the decision to put my real name on it. And responding to questions on the MSDN forum? I was pretty nervous that some MVP or Microsoft employee would ridicule my suggestions. But you know what? It hasn’t happened yet, and I gain more confidence with every blog post, every forum response, and every published article. And if I don’t have the right answer? Then I read up on the correct answer, which is just another opportunity to learn.
Work yourself out of a job.
That old adage, “work smarter, not harder,” definitely has merit. Write good, thorough code. Plan for growth. And automate the hell out of everything (without losing quality). Afraid you’ll lose your job? It’s certainly possible, but not likely. Any boss worth his salt will notice you get more work done in less time than your co-workers. This will lead to better reviews, increased responsibility, and possibly even promotions (side note on this: if you like code, don’t do it! I learned the hard way, meetings are boring. 🙂 ).
Tag! You’re It.
I’m calling these guys out to post their own responses to Mike’s question:
Michelle Ufford (aka SQLFool)