When asked to describe myself, one of the first adjectives I use is “tenacious.” Typically this is not one of those words you choose to describe yourself in a meeting or an interview. I find it works for me. This tenacity has been a huge force behind my success in the I.T. world. It has also proved to be a challenge within my 17 year I.T. career.
It all started back in the day when I was offered a job post completing a PL-I boot camp. Yes, that is correct, I started on the mainframe. My first official job was providing QA for GTE for billing and CICS screens. I continued my QA career accepting a job at Nielsen Media Research.
Nielsen Media Research provided me many opportunities. The first was providing QA for the PL-I systems being upgraded for this Y2K thing. Apparently we all survived since I am writing this post and you are reading it. After multiple years of QA, I was promoted to a PL-I programming position. This position did not last for long as I was recruited back into QA. The ultimate prize for QAing the M-204/PL-I to Sybase IQ conversion was a Jr. DBA position. After 2 years on the project we were near completion and the Jr. Posting I was hoping to receive was no more. So I waited patiently taking any Sybase ASE grunt work my DBA buddies would throw my way. Then one day it happened… The post became available, I interviewed and the posting was mine. I was a Sybase ASE DBA!!! Drinks all around! For approximately 5 years I was solely dedicated to Sybase ASE. Then late in the 5th year I moved to a Sub group within Nielsen where I was responsible for Sybase ASE, Sybase IQ and what would soon become the love of my life Microsoft SQL Server. Little did I know how much this move would change my life. After 10 Years of seeing mergers, take-overs and buyouts of the Nielsen Company, I began to feel like my place was no longer at Nielsen but elsewhere in the I.T. community.
Leaving Nielsen was the second most challenging transition in my life. The first was the birth of my son. The decision to interview at other companies involved many cell phone and home conversations with my wife of 11 years. After taking under consideration: an infant son, my wife no longer working for the local school system and losing the benefits (great insurance, 4 weeks vacation, and life-long friends)at the company I had hoped to make a career, the decision to leave was finally made.
The interview process was a tough at first. I was very rusty and looking for a SQL Server gig with only a couple of years production experience under my belt. After multiple interviews, I began to gain confidence in myself and once again understood what it was to be interviewed. When all was said and done, I had 3 equally great offers at the same time. One was very difficult to turn down as the company was smaller than the others, and I felt very welcome during the interview process. The issue was the limited insurance package was not right for my family. My final decision came when my current employer offered me a nice compensation package. They were professional and appeared to have what my family required.
So here we are present day. I have been at my current employer for 4 years in July. I am currently working for a large food retailer in the Tampa Bay area. Times are good and I have more work than I can complete on any given week. I am proud to be in this position due to the crazy times we are living. I am a member of a strong 5-person team. We support 2000+ instances of SQL Server 2000. We have over 200 SQL Server 2005 instances. Currently, we are in the process of upgrading our enterprise to 2008 R2. My day finds me executing mundane tasks mixed in with some very challenging projects. I consider myself a working man and have no issues with getting my hands dirty. Grunt work is what I consider my specialty. That being said, I believe that problem determination is one of my strongest skill sets. Maybe this came from my days in QA, maybe it’s how I’m wired. I attribute this skill set back to my tenacity. This tenacity makes me dig deep into production issues and pushes me to learn new ways to solve/prevent outages daily. It is a true passion finding out the Why, the How and the What it takes to fix a problem within the systems I support. I have even stepped into the server, network and application arena. Yes, is fair to say I have literally “stepped into it” when I move away from my comfort zone. It is this same tenacity that has me grinding late into the night, working weekends and spending time away from the family.
The last 17 years have been the best years of my life. I am looking forward to giving back to the community that has been support for me day in and day out on my I.T. journey. In the years to come, I will be sharing steps I use in problem determination, techy stuff, and the many things that make me tick (music –Punk/Metal/Rap/80’s, hiking in the Smokey Mountains, fishing, and taking time out with my friends and family).