Jan 232014
 

Pro Tip: If you’re a recruiter and sending out mass emails about positions you’re trying to fill, do yourself a favor and make sure you’re not accidentally including other things, like a letter of reprimand from your boss. The names have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent, but here’s the email I received yesterday:

My name is Frank Schlawmeyer and I am a Sr. Executive Recruiter for B.O. Associates, a premier search firm representing major clients in the Chicago area. I discovered your information while sourcing for an opportunity we have as a SQL Server DBA for a major e-commerce company in the Chicagoland area. This is a full-time permanent DBA role and requires experience as both an operational / production DBA and must have experience with T-SQL.

Your background is impressive and I would appreciate an opportunity to speak with you regarding your work history in relation to this role. If you are interested, please send me an updated copy of your resume. I can be reached via telephone at <redacted> or via email at <redacted>. If you are not interested, please feel free to forward this information on to anyone that you feel may be a fit.

For your reference here is a link to the job description: <redacted>

Thank you in advance for your time and I am looking forward to hearing from you soon.

Frank Schlawmeyer
Sr. Executive Recruiter
B.O. Associates

Looks like a pretty standard recruiter email. But wait, there’s more! I’m so glad I scrolled down because I found this gem:

From: Otto Oberkuchen
To: Frank Schlawmeyer
Subject: calls?

Frank,

You have 2 submittals that were done yesterday yet only 5 calls so far today. It is extremely hard for me to manage the others and push them on calls when they see a senior person like yourself getting away with that. It would be different if you were making tons of placements but without that it makes it tough. Any thought on how I should reply when they ask that? Don’t make it a topic of discussion out there either. This is going to be a year of “No Excuses And All Successes”!! Thanks

Otto Oberkuchen
Partner
B.O. Associates

Ouch. “No Excuses and All Successes” sounds like an incredibly understanding and flexible management methodology to me. I’m sure it’s working out great for them, especially since this isn’t the first time I’ve had an interesting encounter with this particular agency. I’ll be sure to add this company to my list of places I hope to work someday, right after an apiary. (And if you know me, you know I will run away if I even think there’s a stinging insect nearby.)

Sadly, this also isn’t the first time I’ve received emails I shouldn’t have seen. A little proofreading could have gone a long way here – it takes only a few seconds to give an email a once-over before sending it. I’ve worked that step into my routine to help avoid situations just like this one.

Help Frank Out

I really do feel for Frank, and he did say “If you are not interested, please feel free to forward this information on to anyone that you feel may be a fit.” So, if you’re interested in this position, drop me a line and I’ll be happy to get you in touch with Frank.

Maybe he can fill this position and have one more success (and one less excuse) to take back to Otto!

Jan 222014
 

With over 40 weeks to go, PASS Summit 2014 may seem like the distant future, however the planning phase is already well underway. An event like the Summit is only possible because of the efforts of hundreds of volunteers, and opportunities to help this year are already starting to pop up.

One such opportunity is the Program Committee. It’s a wonderful way to help out, even if you can’t attend PASS Summit. That’s right, you can be part of the Program Committee without ever leaving the comfort of your home office, balcony, back porch, or wherever else you can get an internet connection.

What does the Program Committee do? In short, they determine the program! The committee is made up of a few different teams:

The Speaker/Abstract Review Team reviews and rates every speaker and abstract submission. Based on these rankings, the session lineup is determined.

Once the lineup is set, the PowerPoint Review Team goes over the selected abstracts for things like grammar before they are published on the website and printed in the guide. They also review the final drafts of PowerPoint slide decks before being presented at the Summit.

Finally, there’s a Special Projects team that helps out year-round with things like testing and reviewing the software used by the review teams.

Is it fun? I’ve been fortunate enough to be chosen for this committee the past 3 years, and it’s been an excellent experience. It’s a wonderful way to volunteer and help be a part of such a large event that so many people enjoy. It’s also a great way to meet new people: I’ve met someone new each year through program committee.

How much time does it take? I’m not going to lie, it takes time. We’re all busy people, so it’s not about having time, it’s about making time. In the case of speaker/abstract and PowerPoint review, you’ll want to pace yourself so that it takes a few hours per day over a few weeks because there’s no way you can do it all in one sitting. The number of abstracts submitted is in the hundreds, and the speaker/abstract review team reads and ranks all of them. The past 2 years I’ve put in probably 10-12 hours per week for 2-3 weeks doing abstract reviews.

What is reviewing like? Reviewing is tough – there are many abstracts of very high quality, and there’s no way the schedule can accommodate them all. Being on this committee gave me a real appreciation for how many abstracts are submitted and how good they all are.

But I’ve never done anything like this before! I hadn’t either, but there’s a first time for everything, right? It’s important to remember that you won’t be doing this on your own – you are part of a team with plenty of others who are ready and willing to offer support and advice.

So I can join the committee give my abstracts the highest rating possible, right? Now that wouldn’t be very fair. You most definitely can submit abstracts and be on the Program Committee, however you cannot review abstracts for tracks that you have submitted for.

Sound good? If the PASS Summit Program Committee sounds like something you’d be interested in, apply today! Applications are being accepted until 9:00pm PST, Wednesday 5 February 2014.

Jan 092014
 

This year Chicago will be hosting it’s 5th SQL Saturday! SQL Saturday #291: Chicago 2014 is now open for registration! As always, the event itself is free. An optional lunch will be provided for $10.

We are once again very grateful to DeVry University for hosting us. This year it will take place on Saturday April 26, 2014 at DeVry’s Addison campus. Please join us for a great day of free SQL Server training, networking, and #SQLFamily in Chicagoland!

The call for speakers is open - please submit your session(s) by February 25, 2014! New speakers are always welcome – getting a good mix of experienced and newer speakers is what SQL Saturdays are all about. If you’ve always wanted to speak at an event like this, here’s your chance!

Dec 102013
 

This post is part of the DBA JumpStart series being written by myself and 19 other professionals from the SQL Server community and coordinated by John Sansom (@SQLBrit). It has been compiled into a free eBook, which can be found here. Be sure to download a copy!

If you could give an aspiring DBA just one piece of advice what would it be?

My favorite thought on this topic is don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Mistakes are one of the ways that we learn. Make a lot of them, and you’ll have many opportunities to learn. Really.

I hear the term “expert” thrown around a lot, occasionally even in contexts I agree with. To me, an expert is someone that’s found an incredible number of ways to break things, and has used those experiences to their advantage. They have figured out how to fix everything that they have broken, and even more importantly, they know how to avoid breaking things in the future. Whenever something goes awry, the worst possible outcome is to not learn anything from it. So long as this isn’t the case, you can always make at least some good come from a sticky situation.

This is not to say that you should go out making mistakes or breaking things. Creating problems in a production environment is still a very bad idea that could have a negative impact on your career. These mistakes are best made in development or (even better) a local sandbox instance. Practice everything there before making changes in production. Even more importantly, take some time and think about all the different things that can go wrong. If possible, make those situations happen in your DBA environment and then figure out the best way to recover from them.

Along those lines, not being afraid to make mistakes also doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared for them. Even if they are inconvenient, simple actions such as making sure backups are up-to-date and on hand before launching a change can be the difference between looking like a rockstar for recovering gracefully from an unforeseen issue, and having egg on your face.

Dec 042013
 

Just a quick note that the PASS Summit 2014 Early Bird rate of $1095 ends Friday 6 December. You don’t have to look very hard to find lots of blog posts about how PASS Summit is an amazing experience at any price, but this is a great opportunity to save $1200 off the full registration rate. Starting Saturday 7 December the price increases to $1395.

I’ve always registered during the early bird period as a kind of safety net. If you are planning on attending no matter what, it’s totally worth it. Here’s how I see the possible outcomes by registering now, even if your employer can’t commit to sending you yet:

- If you sign up now at the lowest possible rate and your employer agrees to send you later on, you just saved them some money. Perhaps you can even use the lower rate you secured as a bargaining chip to encourage them to send you.
– If you register now, submit sessions and are selected as a speaker, you will get a refund of your registration fee. (This was my situation last year.)
– If you register now and your employer can’t send you later on, you saved yourself a lot of money.
– If you register now and have to cancel, this is where things are less glamorous. According to the cancellation policy you are entitled to a refund, less a $295 processing fee, if you cancel your registration by July 31, 2014.

All the registration info can be found here. I can’t wait to be back in Seattle next year, and I hope to see you there!