The Accidental DBA?

I suppose so.

After 14 years in the Army, National Guard, and Reserves as a Military Policeman I decided I wanted to get out, go to school and to be a Database Administrator. I had no real clue what they did, but I’d worked with Access and was in awe at the potential. I looked high and low for DBA training, but had no clue what they did, nor what to learn. After a while I settled in on a university that offered a business degree in MIS which included a few IT courses. Had I known back then that a Comp Sci degree would probably be better, or that a two-year tech degree with additional classes leading toward a Microsoft Certification would better, or that I could forgo school altogether and just go nuts on certifications, I may have made different choices.

However, I graduated college two years ago, December. A few months before graduating I began my job search knowing fully that it would be tough due to the economic conditions of the time. Quickly, it seemed, time flew by. I graduated, still unemployed. Ate through savings, still unemployed. Applied to more and more jobs, desperately, including Assistant to the President of a smaller private university, social media management, anything. Finally I landed a gig at Target, stocking shelves from 4 AM. On the day I was to start this job I received a phone call from Fritz and Fritz had the honor of offering me a position doing night-time helpdesk for my soon-to-be-employer. We discussed aspects of the position and offerings and then Fritz asked me what I expected for earnings. After years of the Army and being told what I’d make I wasn’t sure how to answer. I know I should shoot high and negotiate, but I REALLY did not want to work at Target making LESS money than I did in High School with 14 years of military experience and a college degree!!! My reply was simple. “Fritz, in 4 hours I will start working at Target making $9.00 / hr. If you can beat that, I’m in.”

My IT department was relatively small I suppose. We had 1 “hardware” guy, 4 helpdesk guys, and 4 software developers. We were responsible for 700 workstations running 24/7 in 6 plants spread out between two locations. Our User Interface was built entirely on nearly 2000 MS Access Forms which used linked MS SQL 2008 & Oracle RDB database tables. Our applications are built in VBA, with our transactions written in C. I had completely given up finding a DBA job, I’d even begun researching how to make more money in Helpdesk as this is all I could find, and found some people made quite a living doing this job, often as contractors which I wasn’t sure I would want to do. But I was happier with the outlook.

Nearly a year and a half later I’ve been advanced to the Database Administrator with the same company. I suppose, based on the horrid job outlook in 2010 and having totally given up on the prospect of working in the DBA field one could say I am an “Accidental DBA.” My Helpdesk replacement has been hired and has begun training to take over my night shift. I am a few months away from relinquishing my duties and transitioning to days.

In the mean time I’ll be heading to my first SQLPass Summit next week with my boss. We have our schedules all set and arrangements made. I did grab the dept iPad and load it up so that I won’t miss the Arsenal matches taking place during my flights. Following the Summit I have 10 days of living off the grid hunting, a couple holidays and next thing I know morning commutes TO work rather than away. Things are looking good.

Just remember, getting your foot in the door is the most important step.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *