Recently Paul Randal (aka Mr. Tripp) started a web version of the tag game in the SQL Server blogging community on what were the three most important events that shaped your career and got you to this point in your life. It is a very difficult question because unlike data, life events do not accept a SELECT TOP 3 … ORDER BY [ImportanceRating]. The sorting function is a subjective one for humans in the case of life changing events and it depends on the impact that one event had on the individual. It is a lot harder than most would think and I spent the weekend thinking about this and trying to review what were the most important events that shaped my life and career. Here’s what I came up with:
1) My Family
As I grew up in a communist Romania I was one of the fortunate kids that had access to technology thanks to my parents, both University Computer Science professors. My father is still teaches Databases from the 101 course to Oracle PL\SQL and also Assembly Language. My mom is now retired but she used to teach the Fundamentals of Computer Programming to students in the freshman year. As a kid I got to see all the different generations of technology from things like ferrite memory to BASIC programming on Romanian replica of Sinclair ZX Spectrum+ Z80 home computer. I have thank my parents for explaining to me how things work and as a very inquisitive boy I absorbed all that information without realizing that one day this will help me understand the systems as a whole and see the big picture where others only see the frontend. The first database I worked on was dBase III the precursor of FoxPro (anybody who used it understands why some people call database tables “files”). The interesting side to this is that while I was hooked on computers, my sister decided to go to Law School to finally land in the wireless communications industry.
2) Discovering relational algebra
During third year in the Politehnica University I found an opportunity to apply for a EU scholarship in the frame of Erasmus Programme. I remember that one of the requirements was to be fluent in French and because of that there were only 3 or 4 students that applied and I was selected. I chose the “DB and Artificial Intelligence” major at “Universite de Paris 6 – Pierre & Marie Curie“ and one of the courses was “Relational Databases”. We started from the basics of the relational algebra operations and representing query plans as a tree that can be transformed, all of which which I was fascinated by. I kept my interest in this when I returned home after my year in Paris, I got my Software Engineering MS in “Database Systems Optimizations”.
3)Real world challenge
After my graduation I decided to continue the family tradition and started teaching Labs on “Programming Languages” and “Relational Database Design” at the Politehnica University. A few years later I decided to get a job as Oracle DBA. The first day on the job they gave me a desktop and some form of an install manual for Oracle and their product and asked me to read it and ask around if I had questions. Two days later, to everybody’s surprise I had their product installed and running on Oracle 9i while it was designed for 8i. This was one of the first moments when I realized that I like challenges and that I can live up to the expectations.
A few years later came a moment when I realized just how lucky I am. It was the moment when I found out that I was one of the one selected for the Diversity Visa program to get a Green Card and move the US.
From that point forward I did not find it hard to get a job (I got my first job in US in three days) but I learned that the most important thing is to find the right job and the right employer that would challenge me just like Brent Ozar was writing in his post on the same subject:
I want to be a successful employee in my employer’s eyes, but when I take a job, one of the questions is, “One year after someone’s taken this position, what does success look like? What is the best employee doing? How are you rewarding them for what they’ve done?”
In IT, this question takes people by surprise, but the answers reveal a lot.
Until this day I can proudly say that I have exceeded all my employers’ expectations but I cannot say the same about all the jobs I held.
I’m going to tag Ted Krueger, Jorge Segarra, Mladen Prajdic and Jonathan Kehayias to see how they are answering this question. The list does not have to end here. If you would like answer this question please link back to this post or the original post by Paul.