In November, I took a big leap: I went from being a full-time DBA for a Fortune 500 company to being a technical database consultant at a small (but amazing) marketing consulting firm. It’s been an adventure so far. I knew that being a consultant would be different than being a full-time employee. I knew my schedule would change, the pace of work would change, the level of work would change, and I’d learn a lot.

And has it ever been an adventure. I won’t lie, there have been a couple of moments where I’ve wondered if I made the right choice. But I know, deep down, that I did. I’ve learned a lot already. I want to share the lessons I learn in a blog series, starting with these first few observations.

Ask a Million Questions. Then Ask One More.

I have had a million questions in the last month. They are questions for my coworkers, questions about my clients, questions about the industries they work in, and questions about the technology I’m working with. If I don’t ask those questions, I could make assumptions. I’m sure I’d be wrong. I’ve learned that asking questions, to find out what people really want, makes me look good. It shows I care about the clients. It shows I am not going to assume I know everything.

Depend on Your Network

As I’ve already stated, I don’t know everything. I do, however, have a fantastic network that knows a lot. I’ve been able to ask questions of many people. I’ve gotten recommendations on software, and introductions to people that can help with problems. Cultivate your network, and use it. Chances are the people you know want to see you succeed, and will help you do so.

Be Flexible

I am not working an 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. job. I am not working on just one client project a day. I have learned that being flexible is necessary. I can come up with a list of what I want to work on each day and week, but I understand that can change by the hour.

Know Your Tools

Make sure you have a full range of tools to help you. I’ll be blogging about a few that I use. From Management Studio to Toad and OneNote to Evernote, know what tools are available to you, what they do, and what is best for each job.

A database is a database is a database. A language is a language is a language.

I was working with SQL Server 98% of the time at my last job. In a month, I haven’t opened SQL Server Management Studio at work. I knew a little VB and C#. I now know PHP. All databases have the same theory. All programming languages have the same theory. It’s just syntax. Be willing to learn new things. You’ll be glad you did.

Step Outside Your Comfort Zone

This can be summed up with one image:


I look forward to the weeks and months ahead of me. I can’t wait to learn more and get involved in more cool projects!

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