Pragmatic Works: The Transition

So if you know me via Twitter or my blog you probably know that as of about a month or two ago I joined the fantastic team at Pragmatic Works. This transition was rather significant for me as I would be moving from the world of administration to the development side of SQL Server in being a BI consultant. This series will be a kind of chronicle of my personal journey through the transition from a DBA (with a social media complex) to a BI developer in one of the top BI shops around.

My Background

So my background in IT is pretty diverse and while it was never my intentioned path, I’m very grateful for every step of the way. In college my plans were actually to become a web developer. Unfortunately (or rather fortunately), I never got the necessary skills I really needed (read also: .NET or Java skills) to get a job in that field after graduation. I wound up going the ground-up IT route and started my career as a PC tech. Again, I lucked out in this role as I was exposed to various facets of IT including doing some light system administration, Cisco networking, and SQL Server administration on top of my duties as a desktop guy. During my time in that organization I eventually moved up to a full-fledged system administrator so my skillsets grew to include VMware administration duties as well, which would up helping me land my next gig at the hospital. As an administrator I also spent a lot of time studying up on the (then) new release of SQL Server, SQL Server 2005. As my knowledge of the product grew I moved on to a larger environment that allowed me to expand on and apply that knowledge. It was during this time that I started plugging into the community and ramped up on blogging, tweeting and presenting. Thanks to those actions I was able to network with tons of fantastic folks in the community (I’m so spoiled living in Florida, way too many awesome SQL pros here) and get to learn a bit about everything. Although I got to learn lots of cool stuff about other aspects of SQL Server (read also: BI stack) I never got a chance to really explore/apply that portion of the stack in my environment.

Opportunity Knocks…and it wears Sandals

Meet Mr. Opportunity!

Fast forward a couple of years and I realized I needed to move on again to grow. Long story short I wound up in Jacksonville working for the illustrious Scott Gleason (Blog Twitter). During my time in Jacksonville I took part in theJacksonville SQL User Group, which gave me more of a chance to talk more with the Pragmatic guys. After some back and forth, and some great guidance and mentoring from Scott, I decided to move my career towards a new direction and try out the business intelligence side of SQL Server. This move was especially daunting for me as going from DBA to Dev means: 1) I’m now the butt of developer jokes 2) I’m now starting at the bottom of Mount Learning Curve. Luckily for me I’m now working with one of the best business intelligence shops in the world to help me get ramped up.

Making the Switch

One of the best things about going to work for Pragmatic Works has been the support they offer. If you’ve ever spent any amount of time with anyone from Pragmatic you know how fantastic, helpful and all-around awesome these folks are. That’s not a mistake, that’s company culture. In the last few years I’ve learned, taught, blogged and presented on my own in order to better myself and to give back to the community. I still get to do that now, only its part of my job description now (I’m serious!). Earlier I mentioned being at the bottom of Mount Learning Curve. Pragmatic Works is full of badass business intelligence Sherpas to help you get up that hill faster than you ever thought possible. One of the cool things we offer is an internal mentoring program. New folks are paired with seasoned consultants and we all help each other climb these knowledge hills together. Right now I’ve been paired with Brad Schacht (Blog Twitter), whom I’ve also spent quite a bit of time on the road with lately on our current project, and he has been an invaluable SSIS resource. Cool thing about this dynamic is that the learning goes two-ways since I’m coming from an administrative background I’ve been able to share my knowledge of administration, virtualization and how PowerShell is going to slowly take over the world with Brad and others. In addition to the one on one relationship with your mentor you also have all of the awesome resources at Pragmatic Works to ask help from. Check out some of the roster:

Yeah quite the lineup eh? And that’s only a portion of our company! Which kind of leads me to my next part…

Working With All-Stars

Some of you may look at that list and say “holy crap, I’d never be able to work there because of blah blah blah”. No offense but please just throw that kind of thinking out the door. Yes, many of those names on that list have made quite a name for themselves in the community either through presenting, blogging or writing books. Believe it or not, you can do it too! The beauty of working for Pragmatic is that if it’s your goal to become the best of the best, and eventually even write a book or two, you’re given the opportunity here in spades! Lately our company has been growing, and will continue to do so, into 2011. We are looking for passionate folks at ALL levels to join our team. I’ve spoken with many who are intimidated to apply because of various reasons. Everyone on that list started out at the bottom at some point and built themselves up to where they are today. If you’re looking for a chance to sharpen/expand your current skill set; if you’re looking for an environment where education is not only encouraged but it’s part of your job; if you’re looking for a passionate and supportive environment in which to grow then I can’t recommend enough that you submit your resume today and join our team! I know this sounds like an infomercial but I really do feel this strongly about this organization.

Where to Next?

Well I mentioned this is going to be a series of posts. Right now I’m making my way through the Professional Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Integration Services book as part of my learning plan. I’ll be blogging this week on a cool little learning project inspired from Aaron Nelson’s (Blog Twitter) PowerShell code to download all videos from a site. My SSIS experiment was to take all of those videos, rename them according to their formal title, and move them to an archive folder, so keep an eye out for it and thanks for following along!

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