Tuesday, March 13, 2012

T-SQL Tuesday #028 – Is it really specialization?

This is the first time I've participated in T-SQL Tuesday - I hope to do so more often...

I can recall several years ago being a jack of all trades kind of guy. I was doing development, security, server support, workstation support, database support, and even working with the physical time clocks. I was actually quite happy – I even moved my family close to the job so that I could be home more often.

While I was there, I realized something. There are a LOT of jack of all trades people out there. With this realization – I looked at the IT horizon and decided I would either specialize in Information Security or SQL Server. Both areas of specialization play to my natural personality traits – persistent pursuit of truth and knowledge combined with complex problem solving skills. For my next position, I decided I would put out my resume and whichever job I was hired for first (security or DBA) I would make that my specialization. Fortunately, I landed a full time DBA job. I have taken that role very seriously and have enjoyed the knowledge and experience gained.

That being said, the more “specialized” I get, the more I realize I’m not specialized. I’m a jack of all trades, it’s just that the trades that I’m a “jack of” are just less common. When I chose to be a database professional (or it chose me), I came to realize that there were developers, engineers, and DBAs. My desire for automation lent itself to the DBA role of those three, further specializing my career. As a DBA, I found myself doing SSIS, SSRS, SSAS, and the Database Engine. I decided to further specialize in the database engine. In the general IT space, this may seem specialized, but in the SQL Server space, this is not.

Even at this level, there is much more specialization to be had even within the database engine. There is HADR (mirroring, clustering, replication backups), Performance (indexes, OS, query tuning), Monitoring (Agent, Alerts, logs), Security (auditing, permissions), and Logical Design. I’ve met several professionals who I would consider to have been specialized even within this area as you start to dive into the storage engine, the query optimizer, memory management, connectivity, etc.

To me, specialization isn’t about finding a niche, it’s about recursion. It’s about chasing your passions to places your current peers may not travel to. Once there, it’s about recognizing where within this now reduced area of expertise you can further pursue your passions and distinguish yourself amongst the new peers only to find a whole new set of challenges and specialties to pursue.

I expect that one day, I will be forced to settle in an area whether it be by my own lack of ability to pursue the next level or by environmental factors, but until then, the journey continues.

About Kyle Neier
Husband of a magnificent woman, father of 5, SQL Server geek, IndyPASS Vice President and Food Guy, DBA automation zealot, amateur Powershell evangelist. Follow Me on Twitter

1 comment:

Argenis said...

Thanks for posting, Kyle!