How to Advance in your Field

Don Burleson has recently posted an interesting article on How to become an Oracle Guru.

He stresses that hard work and keeping an eye out for new opportunities are key, and they are. From my experience I would add one more thing to that:

Make a point to fully understand everything you do. Sure, you may know what the oracle listener does and how to start and stop it, but if you don’t understand it you won’t be able to troubleshoot it. You may know when to apply a bitmapped index, but do you know why?

This depth of knowledge is what has set me apart from other IT professionals I’ve worked with. It speeds development and troubleshooting and time after time has made me the go-to guy when people have questions.

How do you get to this technological point of enlightenment? Start at the bottom. I took several computer science classes as an undergraduate. They weren’t at a top university, hell I didn’t even get good grades in most of them, but I was there every day listening to understand. Even just an introductory computer science course, if you’ve never had one, can fill in some background on how searches, queues, logic, hardware and software all work.

After college I worked as a Solaris administrator. That gave me a strong foundation in UNIX and since I displayed a good understanding of UNIX, less than a year after becomming a sys-admin I was slated to become a DBA as one of the companies other DBAs left.

So, now that I’ve rambled on for a bit, what was my point? If you take the time to understand every step, not just slap together a solution, you will generate solutions which are more robust. When you make mistakes you will be in a much better position to learn from them.

My only other peice of advice is resist the urge to cut corners. Do everything you do as well as you possibly can. If you need help, get it. If the project takes longer than expected, fine. Everything you put out there reflects on you as a professional. I like to say “I’d rather not do a job than do a job poorly.”

professional development, oracle, dba, information technology

3 thoughts on “How to Advance in your Field”

  1. Hi,

    I’ve been following your blog for a good period now — good stuff there!

    This one’s very close to my heart (and mind). Excellence in anything we do should be the desired goal. To that order, we need to get our foundations straight, not be afraid to ask questions (even seemingly stupid ones) and access any subject with an open mind (in Eastern philosophies, this attitude is called the “Beginner’s Mind”). Once we think we’ve learnt everything there is to be learnt about something (usually cannot be accomplished), the troubles start.

    My two cents — keep blogging and good luck at your new gig.


  2. I think the key can be summed up in one word:


    Don’t take shortcuts in developing a proper understanding of what is very complex technology. Then, with time, you will truly master it.

  3. True Robert. You can’t be afraid to go back over something a few times either. There are plenty of things, especially about databases, that I’ve had to read, re-read, experiment with, read again, and then they finally click.

    Every moment I’ve taken to thoroughly understand something ahead of time has saved me hours in practice.

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