Friday, February 13, 2009

Things I Wish I Had Known

I was tagged by Tim Mitchell in the latest, as he says, get to know you question, started by Mike Walsh, about what you have learned that you wish you had known earlier. There have been a lot of very smart people "tagged" in this thread and there have been some common themes, some of which I will hit on as well. So let's get started.

When in doubt ask!
I do not have a normal computer science education, so when I got my first job I really felt like I needed to prove myself so I was very hesitant to admit I didn't know something. I would spend 2 hours researching and figuring out something instead of asking a co-worker. Of course, this meant I spent more hours at work in order to accomplish what needed to be done. Now as an experienced developer, I've realized that I'm never going to know it all and that the best resource I have is the people I know. Don't let pride or reputation keep you from asking for help

Educate yourself
This has been mentioned by others, but it bears repeating. If you want to progress in your career take and make the time to educate yourself. I agree with Brent Ozar that you should pick an area you are passionate about and become the expert in that area. You should be "the man" for Reporting Services, Profiler, etc...

Get Involved
Another common theme, but, in my opinion, very important. Don't just attend user groups, events, or online communities like SQLServerCentral get involved in them! The more you put in the more you will get out of each of these communities. I have learned more in the past year by answering forum questions, going to meetings and events, speaking, and writing articles, than in the previous 5 years. I was fortunate to be able to speak at SQLSaturday 8 in Orlando and in preparation I probably learned more than anyone who attended my session. In my time on SQLServerCentral (my preferred site) I have gotten to know some great SQL minds like Grant Fritchey, Gail Shaw, Jeff Moden, R. Barry Young, Lynn Pettis and others. Through our interactions on SSC I've been able to develop a network of "go to" people when I have a problem I can't solve.

Share your knowledge and document everything
It's great to be indispensable, until you want to go on vacation. Teach your co-workers about what you do and document everything. If someone can't fill in for you for a week, you need to get to work on getting someone up to speed. This actually makes you more valuable to your employer because you are making everyone more productive.

Take time for your family and yourself
We all know someone who works all the time and if you don't, you probably are that person. Sometimes long hours are necessary, but they are not a badge of honor. Long-term you will be more productive if you work normal hours and take your vacations. You will also like your job more, too. If your boss expects your regular week to be 50 or more hours, start looking for another position now! I regularly worked until 8 or 9 pm when I was first married and missed out on having some more fun times with my wife before we had kids. Now I do my best to be out at 5 pm so I can enjoy my kids and wife. Life is more than work and work will be better if it is only part of your life.

I'm closing in on 40 and I'd like to think I've learned some lessons and I'd like to pass them on. I still feel like one of the young guys though.

Since it's the weekend and I think all my blogging friends have been tagged I'm going to pass on tagging anyone else.

1 comment:

  1. Jack, good points all. I especially appreciate the last one of these, and probably should have included something similar in my list. Setting aside an appropriate amount of time for oneself, including time with family, makes for a more pleasant existence, which will in turn improve your ability and willingness to go the extra mile for your career.


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