I was recently tagged in a blog entry from Tim Mitchell titled “Things I Wish I Had Known“. The concept appears to have started with an entry of a similar, but lengthier, title by Mike Walsh and passed along to other SQL bloggers. The idea is to bestow some wisdom that would benefit someone who is starting out in our profession. Here are a few morsels from my experience that I offer:
Ask, Ask and then Ask Again
The development process at times fells like trying to translate hieroglyphics without the Rosetta stone. This is true whether you are developing a database or the user interface of an application. Customers will present their needs in a way that they understand it. The developer will attempt to interpret the request into a system that meets their needs. You can be sure that the customer’s request is never as simple as they present it and it is never as simple as the developer interprets it. The key to success in this task: Ask questions as if you were a layer.
Improve Processes Before Automating Them
I have been the recipient of many projects where the requested system is pursued as the savior of a severely broken process. Rather than go through the process of reviewing the process and identify the opportunities to improve it the thought is to throw code at it to speed up the excruciating and time consuming manual processes. This often results in a system that offers very little improvement in the situation and large masses of missing hair on the part of the developer and the requestor.
He Who Is Not Busy Being Born Is Busy Dying
This line, pulled directly from a Bob Dylan song, is a something that I live by on a daily basis. The opportunities to learn from another person is in abundance. The opportunities to teach another person flourishes equally. The willingness to accept that failure will occur leads to the elevation of experience that draws nearer to expertise. Identifying opportunities to improve existing skill sets is critical for growth. It is when the belief that there is nothing more the learn is when complacency begins to rear its ugly face.
Support Your Local User Group and Events
User groups and community organized events such as Tech Fests, SQL Saturdays, and code camps offer great learning opportunities for free, or at nominal cost. These events also provide the opportunity to network with your peers which is priceless. In addition, the opportunity to explore your speaking skills are provided through these venues.
At The Beginning of the Day Make A Top 5 List
At one of my previous employers the practice of making a daily top five list of tasks, in order of priority, was implemented by the CIO. This list is intended be the focus of the day. At first the idea was met with some resistance by the entire department; but I found it very valuable in organizing my day. Limiting the list to five makes it very manageable. I knew that if I go home with all five items crossed off my list it was a productive one.
My offering is rather short compared to others that have participated in this chain-of-blogs. As the trend continues providing something unique becomes more challenging. There have been many great pieces of advice passed along. Hopefully they fall into the hands of a very fortunate SQL Server beginner.