Wednesday, December 08, 2010

New gig, new changes and social networking

I've been at my current employer for 2.5 years. In a nutshell, I am a DBA for a very highly transactional system, a 24x7 shop that takes and processes payment for many different clients. If we have downtime of mere seconds, we loose a lot of transactions. Providing 'Service Delivery' to this system is paramount. Keeping the systems up and running requires a lot of planning, a lot of knowledge of the topology and a lot of time sensitive reactions.

During the past couple of years, I have definitely learned a lot. Skills that will help me forever in this line of work. I have also worked some random hours, long hours and extra hours. Many times I have been known to work the full day, only to find myself working the night as well. This is not uncommon in our line of work. It is understood that if you are supporting a database system, you become the goto guy/gal at any hours of the day or night to help keep your system up and running. You may often find yourself in a situation where your tasks require you to do specific things, and be unable to do other things. Meaning, our job requirements may be detailed for us, and disallowing us from performing certain activities. Roles and Responsibilities, division of duties and all that. These rules allow us to ensure that the right people are performing the right tasks at the right time.

Well, as I wax poetic about our jobs and responsibilities, I realize I got off topic a bit. So, back on track we go. A month ago, at the beginning of November, I received a random email from a Systems Engineer at a company I had never heard of. I have never heard of the individual that sent me the email either. It turns out that I am a secondary link thru the social networking wite LinkedIn. This individual seemed to have the need of a DBA's services, and knew that relying on his connections, may be able to uncover someone that was interested.

Whenever I receive requests of this nature, either thru a person I know, or a headhunter, or from whomever, I always entertain the information. It may be of interest to me, or maybe better suited for someone else. But I may as well listen to the option. If it is interesting to me, I'll follow up. Usually it is not interesting, and I can share this with others that may be looking, or members of the User Group or the local community. So, I entertain any job prospect. In fact, I looked back at my email and saw that about 12 different options had come across my desk in the last year. This is by no means a 'brag'. Most of these options were simply not interesting to me, or even worse, I was not qualified to be interested in them.

So, back to this job prospect. Random email or pointed search, I entertained it, and shot my resume over to this person. Once they received it, they were interested, and asked to see me. I love this part of the process. It makes me feel loved, wanted, and validates my skills and work ethic. This first foot in any door makes you feel alive. You must remember that this feeling also was felt with your current employer, once upon a time. Its fun to feel again and again. But it was once felt, and there were reasons you chose what you chose at that time. Keep these in mind when you weigh the possibilities.

After a couple back and forths, me learning about them, and them learning about me, it seemed we were both interested in each other, and offers were made. This is when those feelings of excitement take an odd turn. All the rest leading up to this is simply flirting and is very exciting. Once an offer comes in, it's game time. The feelings get all mixed up. Remember, you once felt excited about your current employer, and made a decision to begin working there. What to do, what to do....

I spent a couple days agonizing about the pros and cons of each option. In the end, I decided to jump to the next opportunity. The pros of this shop are as follows.

The product that is being sold is to school systems around the country and internationaly. The goal of this product is to teach children to speak and read english. The product uses games and video and interaction to teach. There are databases that produce the learning experience, databases gathering data on what is going on, what users are doing, and so on, databases that are used to report on many aspects of the product. I plan being able to help with performance tuning, data warehousing, data migration, and building out the systems and databases to be more robust systems. I'll get to take the skills I currently have and utilize them in a variety of ways, as well as learn new and exciting things. The systems are all SQL Server 2008 databases, which is exciting to me, as I seem to have been stuck just behind that curve with critical systems being on 2005 and even 2000. I have often wanted to do more work with BI and DW, and this will give me that chance. The company is close by, which will not negatively impact my commute. I have heard nothing but good things from employees as well as families of employees of this new company. The money and other options are similar to what I currently enjoy, and are neither a huge increase or decrease. The company is not tiny, but is not huge either. I have had conversations, as per the interview process, with almost a dozen people and have been really impressed with what I have learned thus far. I will get to attend SQLPASS this next year, as this was one of those options I requested in the beginning.

So, new chapter, new gig. Life will change. Day to day work will be different. Different people will become my coworkers. Lots of differences to come. Its exciting and scary at the same time.