The Value of Training- Summit 2019

I sit here writing this on a Sunday morning with coffee nearby, eagerly anticipating this week’s annual PASS Summit. This is my 5th Summit, and 4th in a row. And yes, I pay my own way happily to this conference every year, to the tune about $4000. That’s for everything – conference fee, travel, lodging, food, airport parking. And yes, I bump for better seats on the plane, to avoid being cramped and miserable for 4 hours each way.

But why do I do this? As a self-employed DBA, that’s a lot of money!

Because training.

I’m 50+ (just added the “+” last month) years old. Things in the SQL world are changing faster than ever. In 1999 with SQL 7 there was no cloud. There was a 5 year gap between SQL 2000 and 2005 releases. And to be quite honest, I never had a mentor guiding me. My entire workday was reactive to whatever ticket came along and Yahoo (before Google) or Books Online to figure things out.

That all changed when I got laid off from Verizon Managed Hosting (Now IBM) in 2015. I re-entered the job market with 15 years of DBA history, but severely lacking current skills, and under developed in other areas. RDX confirmed this by not hiring me after some interview rounds.

I had a conversation with myself and decided I needed to get a LOT more structured, develop a plan to get back on track and be as current as I can. I had been on Twitter, MSDN Forums, and other sites long enough to know who some of the more accomplished folks on the DBA side of the world are – specifically I chose to look at what Brent Ozar (b|t), Paul Randal (b|t) and Pinal Dave (b|t) were doing. I had already met (very briefly) the first two and now call Pinal a friend.

I had always shied away from the deeper performance tuning issues, aside from throwing indexes at things and maybe running sp_updatestats (which worked more often than not). Slow performance is one of the most common problems SQL Server customers have. And Availability Groups. I knew nothing about them at the time. So I took a position as a team lead with a small project team in a deep pockets type company and started learning. I read a lot of things. I watched a few webinars. I went to a performance tuning class from Brent that changed everything (I do best in-person, no distractions) for me.

All of this created a new habit in me – seeking out new knowledge and going deeper than the surface level “just get it back online and close the ticket” work I had been doing for years.

Training is critical!

If the folks you report to aren’t allowing you to get training on the job, I submit that either they are desperately starved for cash, or they just really don’t care about your future nearly as much as they should. So, its up to you to train yourself. Read blogs. Help out on forums. Set up a test box in Azure so you can break things and fix them. If you have a local user group go to it, regardless of the topic. Attend a SQL Saturday. Become a member (for free) of PASS to take advantage of webinars and tons of free video content! If you have a few dollars a month, get a Pluralsight subscription. Take charge of your training and your career!

So here I sit. Looking forward to Summit and possibly my last visit to Seattle (next year is in Houston).

While retirement is still 10+ years off I owe it myself, my employees, and my clients to be as knowledgeable as I can be. 3 days of full immersion in Database Administration, Azure and SQL 2019 features. 3 days of getting my steps in by noon and scanning the Community Zone for an empty bean bag. 3 days of seeing friends I only see once a year. 3 days of networking, talking to vendors (Come sponsor SQL Saturday Dallas, yo!), and having a good time. 3 days of #SQLFamily.

Worth. Every. Penny.

Thanks for reading!


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