This month’s T-SQL Tuesday blog is brought to us by Mohammd Dorab (b | t) and this month topic is about what you would tell your 20-year-old self now that you are further along in your career. I have five pieces of advice I would give myself to the 20-year-old version of myself in no particular level of importance are:
Take charge of my learning. When I started my career, I was mostly self-taught, but my learning was all over the place and not focused. I was a system administrator, then programmer, then web developer, then finally a SQL database administrator. Through all those jobs except the last one, I learned what I need and was considered good at the job, but know I could have been better if I had taken charge of my learning rather than just flying the seat of pants to learn things. These days I develop a learning plan yearly and reevaluate quarterly to make sure it meets my future goals and my needs at my current job. I make sure I budget my time for the plan and don’t get overzealous with trying to learn too much (hence why I still haven’t read Bob Ward’s SQL on Linux book, that will happen soon). But set up a plan of what you want to learn, figure realistically how many hours you have to dedicate to learning each week or month, and determine how you are going to learn (reading, classes, blogs, webinars, all of the above).
Get a mentor. Nothing has been invaluable in the last couple of years than me having a mentor (and I have enjoyed being a mentor as well). The advice you can get from a mentor can shape and propel your career in directions you never would have imagined. Seek out a mentor if could be the most important thing you do for your career.
Get involved in the community. It took me a long time due to shyness to even attend an SQLSaturday and actually talk to people. I went to a PASS Summit without talking to a soul. Big mistakes. Put yourself out there no matter how shy you are and network with other professionals and make friends in the community. They can prove to helpful for you and you helpful for them. The SQL community is really like having a family.
Get involved in speaking. The second best thing I ever did for my career is to get over my shyness for public speaking. Now I find speaking in front of strangers easier than people I know. So that explains why in 9th grade every six weeks when we had to recite something we memorized in English class my body would go numb. It doesn’t do that in front of strangers. I get nervous but not the same degree. By speaking because you have to research your topic, you are establishing yourself as an expert in the topics you speaking on, or at least learning more about the topic as your go along until you hit that level. It makes you stand out in interviews for companies that have a clue about the community.
If you are unhappy at a job move on. I have been at a couple of jobs where I have been miserable and stayed there way too long to the point where it would affect my mental health. Never, ever do this to yourself. Find a job that is not toxic to you before it gets to that level.
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