T-SQL Tuesday #42 – My Journey on a Roller Coaster

Wendy Pastrick (b|t) is hosting this month’s T-SQL Tuesday blog party. The party was started by Adam Machanic (b|t) in December of 2009. The topic this month is on the Long and Winding Road.

Anticipation of the roller coaster

Today is T-SQL Tuesday, literally. I’m sitting in Mother’s Market Cafe, drinking my coffee and succumbing to the fact that I should be part of this month’s blog party. You see, I wasn’t going to write this month. I didn’t know what to say, but then I read Pat Wright’s (b|t) T-SQL Tuesday’s post and I was inspired to write about my journey, because it has been a tough one.

Getting on the roller coaster

I went to Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo to study Mathematics in the early 90’s. The first thing I did was sign up for a computer programming class because I knew it was going to be important, but I had no idea how important. My third year there I realized that I didn’t like my major. (Too much theory.) I struggled with the decision to study computer science or statistics. I took what I thought was the easier path, Statistics with a concentration in computer science. Pro tip: It was not the easier path, but I don’t regret it.

My first dataset I worked with was on a 10 year study of lobsters. I found that I liked data. I also found that I absolutely loved the one whole database design class that was available. I graduated in 1994 without a job. Why? Because jobs were scarce in the field of statistics where I was moving to and Dice and Monster had yet to be written. I did however have an opportunity to teach… computer programming. Specifically, Microsoft Visual Basic and I liked it.

The roller coaster goes up

As time went on I went from teaching to consulting. I liked programming, but I wasn’t in love with it. I did love writing SQL and I was good at it. I kept finding myself on the teams who wrote the business objects. Once in a while I would even get a say in the database design.

The roller coaster goes down

While I did enjoy writing business objects and SQL, I did not like the way I was treated by some of my colleagues and even a manager that I had. As my self-esteem was walked all over by these people, I got more and more dejected. After I had my second beautiful daughter I decided I was through with IT and that I would never return. (Ominous music played here.)

I went back to college to be a high school Mathematics teacher… And that didn’t work out too well for me, so I went back to what I knew best, computer programming. With my self-esteem low I took a position I was over qualified for. I met some great programmers at this new company and some real big jerks whom we shall not talk about. After three years I left the company.

The roller coaster banks left

I had always wanted to pursue being an artist and this seemed to be an opportunity to do so. I was able to pursue being a jewelry designer and a glass artist for three years before reality started to set back in that the private education my daughters were enjoying cost money. Money that my art was not bringing in. Pro tip: This is not the profession to get into during a recession. I had to go back… and I didn’t want to.

The roller coaster goes up

I refused to go back to being a VB.net programmer. What else was there? A friend of mine had a position at his company authoring reports. He needed someone to come in and convert old Crystal Reports to SSRS reports and to author new ones.  I had worked with both Crystal Reports and SSRS in the past so I accepted the job. The most amazing thing happened. I enjoyed my work and there wasn’t anyone tearing me down. In fact, there was someone on the team who took the time to rebuild my self-esteem and I am so happy he did.

The roller coaster goes faster

A year ago I realized that I wanted to learn more about writing better queries, data warehouse design, SSAS, and everything else about the SQL Server stack that I could absorb. I started attending a few conferences. I started looking for user groups and blogs to read. And the cherry on top was finding our SQL Family who encouraged me to start teaching again. This is the best ride ever.


How does this tie into technology? Well, it’s more about how we tie into technology. Different personalities tie into different professions. Twelve years of my career were spent working with the wrong technology. I shouldn’t have pursued computer programming for all those years, but database programming. Unfortunately, back then you had to do the database administration as well as the database programming and the administrators life is not for me.

As I move forward with my career I am eager to learn more about the SQL Server stack and to build relationships within the SQL Server community. I also look forward to how the SQL Server stack continues to change to the meet the needs of the world.

Thanks for all the fish

Thanks go out to Wendy for hosting this months T-SQL Tuesday blog party. Please visit her website at http://wendyverse.blogspot.com.


  1. Chris Yates says:

    Nicely done; I was away on vacation for a week WHOOHOO and missed the party but love what you wrote. Great post my roller coaster friend.

  2. Matt Velic says:

    Very nice post. Similarly(?) I actually studied art in school before making my way into technology – again, I wanted to eat and support myself too! I only wish I had studying programming in school, though that resume item always makes for good conversations.

    • SQLMickey says:

      Thanks Matt. I wish I could have studied more art in college, but I did come away with an Art Minor. I’m glad I did. I think having that artistic side gives a different way of looking at things, and variety on a team is a good thing.


%d bloggers like this: