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How did I get involved with this SQL Server thing?

September 13, 2009 Uncategorized 1 Comment

I'm seeing this question all over SQL Server blogs, and I know you've all been too shy to ask, so I'll tell you ;)

In college I landed a paid internship at FedEx that I managed to keep for 3 years, and then turn into a permanent position after graduation.  Among the toying around with web pages, Windows installations, programming and scripting, I had a small project to insert and update data to an Oracle database.  I had only the vaguest understanding of what a database was, and no idea of how complicated the whole field was, until then friend Sean McCown started giving me material and encouragement to switch fields. My work at FedEx was stagnating, so I jumped in with both feet.  SQL 6.5 whitepapers, Windows resource kits, surfing technet, exploring BOL…I look back on my days of study with quite a lot of fondness. I guess I just liked databases better than anything I'd done up until then, plus I had the internet to look up answers – widespread internet usage was really a college era thing for me – and I had the mentors to make things make sense.  I landed a job with Brinks as a DBA in the early 2000s.

It was GREAT…I'd gotten a huge pay raise by switching jobs, and I was able to dig into performance tuning and monitoring, backup solutions, clustering architecture and hardware specs in the first few weeks.  I was a star with the developers, who'd been largely sequestered from the DB team, and pleased management enough to be sent to BI training.  Not to speak ill of jobs deceased, but I left when politics made it easier to find a new job rather than to stay.

I next joined a very small team at InfoIntegration, in a very fashionable office in Dallas, and spent a large part of my work day deep in DTS.  Hey, remember DTS?  Setting environment variables, adding multiple database connections, ordering all your icons so the whole thing looked pretty?  Ahhh, good times, good times.  But I only stayed there a few months before project funding ran out.  It was hard for my manager to say, sorry, we just can't pay you any more, but I had no hard feelings.  Besides, the next gig I landed was like winning the lottery. 

I interviewed with Microsoft in Irving and started in the SQL Server phone support queues.  Oh, heaven!  It's a great campus, a great setup, and a great team.  I got six weeks of SQL training, answered questions and worked people through the most common and farfetched problems. I got to work under and next to SQL demigods.  I was three cubes down from Ken Henderson, for dog's sake.  Interesting tangent: I might never have actually spoken to him, but Sean was a big fan, and asked me to get his autograph on Ken's Internals book.  Specifically, Sean told me to ask him to write "Sean, thanks for last night."  Ken actually laughed, and wrote it.  They became friends after that.

Back to me.  We timed the end of my Microsoft contract to coincide with the end of my first pregnancy, and I stayed home with the babies for a few years.  In that time I kept up the studies, motivated by the occasional SQL or web contract. And this year I'm back in the official workforce, at Amerisource Bergen.  I'm getting some really solid development work, and SSIS, and all of my favorite things.

That's the story so far.  Wasn't that great?  Hello? 

Always like to keep my audience riveted.

-Jen McCown, http://www.midnightdba.com/

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November 3-7: PASS Summit, Seattle, WA

PASS Summit: Jen is presenting How to Interview a DBA: A Panel Debate on Thursday 11/6 1:30pm, room 401 (along with Adam Machanic, Sean McCown, Bob Pusateri, and Michelle Ufford).

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