I have a feeling 2018 is going to bring a change in my work life and I would like to be prepared for that change. Feeling confident in my skills will be a big part of how I get through that transition. This post goes perfectly in line with some of the planning I have already started, and this gives me the chance to actually write it down (and therefore commit even more too)!
All of the learning I have done so far has been looking up this issue or researching a specific thing, etc. I want to do some structured learning in 2018, so my goal is to be prepared at the end of Q1 2018 to take the 70-462 certification exam (Administering Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Databases). I know that certification exams can be crammed for and don't always give a sense of a person's skills, but I am using them as they were intended, and it has helped me create and organize a learning plan. I have more knowledge than I realize, but I am excited about tieing things together in my head for more of a well-rounded understanding. Not knowing all the specific details and the underlying "why" behind the foundational topics that are normal for a DBA can sometimes cause me to hesitate. This leads to me having a lack of confidence in my skills at key times. Also, I don't always use the correct terminology even though my overall understanding is in place.
After the exam, I will be taking things further. For instance, I don't want to just know how to backup and recover, I want to be able to know how to recover from corruption in different ways, hacking and securing databases, and really understanding all of the layers for true HA and DR. I have successfully been able to think out of the box for solutions which don't have a cookie-cutter answer and automate processes, but I feel like there is more I could know and want to identify and plan for learning those topics too.
Tools to Learn:
- Ozar Training: I JUMPED at the chance to get the training that Brent Ozar and his team have when they put it on sale for Black Friday. Normally I don't do any shopping on Black Friday, but I specifically stayed up late to get the training at a discount right at 12 midnight (I think I ordered just after 12 due to slow internet). I think these would be very good at supplementing my learning when I come across a topic they have already recorded.
- Reading Websites/Books: Since I am going to use the certifications as a way of structured learning, the Microsoft Press Books for each course will work well for me. I will be using them to cover the basics of the topics, and then follow up with online posts and other books as necessary to fill in the gaps and dive deeper.
- Hands On: I will also utilize my MSDN subscription from work to spin up test environments for learning and "playing". I am very much a hands on kind of person and learn best when getting in and figuring things out. That will help me get a better understanding of the Azure platform while testing.
I started writing blog articles in late 2012, with a goal of 1 article per month. I loved it and was starting to get in the groove (for someone just starting out). I ended up getting caught up in work and politics, and blogging fell off the way-side for a couple of years. When I write a blog post, I realize that I go the extra mile to explain things in a way that makes sense to others, not just make sense in my own head. I learn a lot by doing that, so its a great learning technique for me. I like to think of the questions someone would have after reading the post, as if it was someone else's, and then add to the post I am working on. That way I can be as thorough as possible and explain all about a topic, rather than just the specific reason I started the post in the first place. I really want to get back into it, so I have started up again. My goal for 2018 is to write 2 blogs per month. I already have some topics started, so it should be attainable.
User Group meetings:
I was introduced to the Baton Rouge SQL Server User group in 2012; they are 1 hour away from me. Along with blogging, attending the meetings in Baton Rouge also fell by the way-side for a couple of years. I really miss going to the monthly meetings and will be making a big effort to attend the meetings again. My goal for 2018 is to attend 8 user group meetings and 1 SQL Saturday or Tech Day type of event.
I have had the privilege to speak at a few SQL Saturdays in and around my area. I want to get involved in speaking again, but it will depend on what possible changes come in 2018 as to whether I will be able to or not. Therefore, to set a realistic target, my goal is to create 2 sessions which I am able to submit to speak. If I am able to, I will submit these, or my existing sessions to a user group, SQL Saturday, or Tech Day type of event in 2018 as well. Fingers crossed!