Grab a beverage of your choosing, you may be here for a while…
Let’s warp back in time 15 years, leaving school I had no GCSE’s above grade C I had pretty much failed at school, I am not very good at tests you see, I perform better practically but when you leave school you academic status is not determined on a practical level, rather they use the results from these tests, I applied to college but was not able to do the course I had my heart set upon, well not right away anyway, I had to take some access courses in English…English to be able to attend a course in IT, all seemed a bit demotivating to say the least but I persevered, it was a real struggle, I found the pace really hard and at the end of that course I got my D up to a C and was able to take the course in IT.
Once that was done, it turned out that most employers in my area were looking for people who had either A) excelled in school or B) had n years experience in a technical field, neither of these things were me and after a few months hunting for a job in the IT sector I had to give up and resort to working in a local supermarket, I guess it didn’t help that at this point I didn’t drive either so couldn’t broaden my horizons.
The supermarket work went on for a good few years, I think I was there for 5 years all in all, however one day the local hospital posted an advert for a 1st Line Helpdesk Engineer, I thought that would be absolutely perfect, but I still had no commercial experience and my grades were still the same as what they were 5 years ago, I applied and got an Interview, I gave everything in the Interview, I didn’t lie, I was honest and answered all the questions honestly, a few weeks past and I hadn’t heard anything I thought to myself that I hadn’t got the job, a week or so later I got a call and was offered a position on the team, I was over the moon, this would be the break that I had been looking for. I was a member of the helpdesk team for 5 years before I applied for another post in the team as a 2nd Line Infrastructure Engineer I didn’t stay in this post very long.
During my time in this post I gained so much exposure to the Infrastructure, I was rostered onto the On-Call rota and began to see how the inner working of the team functioned, it gave me great exposure to what was going to come next.
I was on the Infrastructure team for around 2 years before I was offered a job as an Application & System Developer, this is where everything changed for me.
While I was in college I had dabbled in HTML/CSS creating little projects and keeping my finger on the pulse when it came to new technologies mainly in the front end space, I had always dreamt of becoming a developer and writing code for a living but my experience and lack of knowledge really set me back, I had no back end experience you see.
The Application & System developer job required me to know C# & SQL and I had no experience in either of these fields, I already had the job at this point so I went out and bought 3 books, Microsoft Visual C# Step By Step By John Sharp, Troubleshooting SQL Server A Guide For The Accidental DBA by Jonathan Kehayias and Ted Krueger & Pro SQL Server Internals by Dmitri Korotkevitch I poured over them, day and night trying to absorb as much information about the various subjects as possible apparently this didn’t go unnoticed and I was given the opportunity to attend a T-SQL Querying Course paid for by my employer which was being led by a training company called QA, it was a 5 day course and at the end of it I would be able to write a JOIN and understand the syntax of Microsoft’s SQL, that was the end goal of this course, I went along and gave it everything.
When I left that course I had more knowledge than I knew what do to with, I went back to my day job and found some of the real world data we had in our test enviroment and poured hours into that, trying different JOINS, exploring the plans and seeing how what I had been taught translated into real world execution.
I took a few of these courses, in quite quick succession actually, T-SQL Querying SQL Databases, Developing SQL Databases & Administering SQL Databases, these courses provided me with more information than I knew what to do with, it was however great because I now had a place to start, I could walk into the office and be able to solve a problem without being nervous that I didn’t understand the code.
It didn’t end there for me though, I signed up to Stack Overflow shortly after and would grab various questions and try to solve them, I didn’t post the answers I just attempted to fix the problem on my own, if I didn’t know how to do it I would read and read and read until I found a solution, I would write the code in SSMS (SQL Server Management Studio) and see if my solution was valid. I did that for a long time, and still do it now, it is a great way to learn new things and keep my knowledge fresh on different functions across different versions of SQL that are still in use in a lot of production environments.
Since getting my job as a developer I have written a fully fledged C# Application with a SQL Database back-end all on my own, every single line of code is mine, some of it maybe through research but the research was mine, nobody else contributed to the application and in the end it was adopted by the organisation I work for and is now used every single day, for me that was a massive accomplishment.
I have assisted other members of the team to optimize some of their existing code to make it better and most recently been trying to get a better understanding of the SQL Availability Group and bring some management to it.
In the future I would love to become more involved with SQL Server, that is my goal, but for now I am just learning and this is hopefully going to be a place where I can share some of what I have learnt with the amazing community that helped me get here.