When I was in the Army my main job, and that of just about all Soldiers, is to make sure that the Soldier above and below him in rank knows his job and can perform it if something should take the Soldier out of the fight. I always found nobility in this. Teaching my Soldier how to be a Sergeant wouldn’t get me fired, or replaced. It would ensure my Team/Squad/Platoon was strong enough to survive if I moved out of that position.
In to corporate sector, I’m sure you won’t be surprised, this is not the case. Jimmy won’t teach Billy how to do X because that will make Jimmy vulnerable, and Billy more valuable. I hate this part of the job. I don’t let it phase me though, I have no problem teaching people my job, I figure if they know how to do what I’m doing now (keeping the ship afloat) I can focus on other tasks. Too bad not everyone sees the benefit in this, including some from management.
What I love about my job, is the community I’ve been introduced to through PASS. One massive benefit is that it gives me people to nerd out to. My wife can barely tolerate my rambling about tables, indexes, and the new cool stored procedure I made.
Another part of the PASS community that I love is the mentoring. It is EVERYWHERE! You just have to recognize it.
But that was a first, and you have to see the covert opportunities. Every single session at the almost daily virtual chapter presentations, SQL Saturdays, monthly User Group meetings, and the Annual Summit Conference is an opportunity. Sure you sit, watch, listen, take notes, but there’s an opportunity for more. Wait for the speaker to have a minute, introduce yourself, discuss the presentation, exchange contact information and there it is.
I was always nervous about this part. “Ugh, he’s got 30 people waiting to talk to him.” So I’d leave, then while he or she is trying to enjoy themselves, I walk up and introduce myself, start talking about the session and I can see that it’s not the right time… I mean, it’s 1am and we’re at SQL Karaoke, so…. My bad. Better idea for next year, buy the USB recordings (downloading is a complete waste of time and pain in the …), attend no more than every other session, giving me 75+ minutes to wait to talk to the presenter.
Even more covert or passive, is finding a professional doing what you want to do, and stalk them. Not crazy stalking, but follow them on twitter, facebook, linkedin, blogs, forums, etc… If they are worth their salt then they are constantly inundating the web with their knowledge.
Then there’s the support. Wow is it strong within this group. Every single presenter you talk to, if you say something like “I would love to present someday.” will encourage you. It will go something like:
<You>: I wish I could present.
<Them>: What’s stopping you?
<You>: I have no idea who would want to hear my newbie level presentation.
<Them>: Everyone is a newbie at some time.
<You>: I don’t “know” anything well enough.
<Them>: Presenting will force you to learn.
I’ve probably had 3 of these conversations, enough to learn not to say this anymore. If I truly wanted to present I would. At no point will they even hint that if you present they will lose viewers… The truth is there are no ratings, not like TV ratings. In fact, the more variety of topics and levels, the better. Wouldn’t it be great if there was someone teaching Topic X at level 100, before someone else taught Topix X at the 200 or 300 level? Too often the presenter at level 300 has to back down to 100 or 200 from questions, or just to set a base because there are people that need and want lower levels.
So with that I am going to follow my own advice, and take the support that is so prevalent. I’m going to ease into it though. A 10 minute lightning talk first in April, then maybe a 30 minute presentation at a monthly user group, and someday a full presentation. I’ve been a DBA for almost 3 years. I’ve come across stuff that others will also face, and maybe my non-technical view will help someone out there going through the same thing.