“The Times They Are A-Changin’”

The title and lyrics to this epic Bob Dylan song could easily be the theme song for the year 2020.  This time of uncertainty has caused  a sea change in the way many of us live our lives.  It has given me pause to reflect on my own situation, particularly my career goals and aspirations.

Last week Paul Randal published a blog post that definitely captured my attention as well as many of those in the SQL Server community.  His very generous offer to mentor some of the followers of his blog was a most intriguing offer.   While Paul and the rest of the crew at SQL Skills are an absolute “must have” resource for any SQL Server DBA or developer, his offer is not to give technical guidance but to help guide the mentee through these changing times.  The definition for mentor is “…anyone who is a positive, guiding influence in another (usually younger) person’s life.”  While I definitely don’t fall into the “younger” category, I can think of very few whose guidance could be more valuable than Paul’s.

Unlike many of the others who are competing for this coveted position, I am in the later stages of my IT career.  After having a 20 year career in the hospitality industry, in the late 1990’s I made a decision to make IT my “real” job.  I went back to school and completed a course of study in computer programming.  Early on I decided to focus on a career as a DBA thanks to a comment from my C++ instructor, (“the data’s gotta live somewhere” )  I was very fortunate to land a job with a major U.S. Department of Defense contractor before I even completed my curriculum.  I remained as a DoD contractor for the next 14 years.  I was once again fortunate enough to move into the private sector working for a great company.  I’ve been privileged to be part of a great team of DBAs for the past 7+ years.  Which brings us to the present.

In 2018 my employer made the decision to go “all in” on the cloud.  This meant some dramatic changes for everyone but most especially for those of us in IT.  I was very excited when it was announced that Microsoft Azure was to be one of our primary cloud platforms.  Then we come to March of 2020 and the Covid-19 crisis.  My employer made the wise move to have everyone start working from home as much as possible.  In the space of two to three weeks we went from having a few hundred remote employees to having thousands.  I’m loving working from home.  I do miss the in person interaction with the rest of the SQL Server community.  Early on in my DBA career I was lucky enough to discover the SQL Server community.  I met Louis Davidson and Andy Leonard at the first Richmond Va. SQL Saturday and I was hooked.   Since that time, my work colleagues often kid me about things like the SQL Cruise (I’ve been twice) and how excited I got about attending SQL Skills training (IEPTO 1 and 2).

Which brings me to the reason for this post.

As I move into the later stages of my career, I would be so grateful for the benefit of Paul’s experience.  I am immersing myself in Azure and am questioning my career path going forward. A recent commercial shows a middle aged man and he asks himself the question “Am I too old to start Skateboarding?” and I can totally relate to his quandary.  Am I too old to change careers?  I hope Paul will help me answer this question.

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