The IT industry moves fast and staying current is tough to do, especially when you have a full time job. Even for those who love their jobs or their positions, it is tough to set aside time to work on new skills. Or even brush up on old skills that haven’t been used in a while. It’s an exercise in time management skills. Technical training is especially difficult because of the focus it can require. Especially now that SQL 2017 is on the verge of being released with the option of running it on Linux, career minded DBAs will be stepping up their training.

Obstacles

Personally, some the obstacles for me are:

  • Physically tired of sitting in front of computer (maybe sick is a better word than tired)
  • Carving out time that doesn’t take away from family, friends, or health
  • Mentally drained after work
  • In some cases cost. Training materials cost money
Solutions

I’ll be honest, I struggle with trying to find solutions to these obstacles. I work full time, and after graduate school, I made a promise to my wife that I would spend less time focused on work. Additionally, I’m not just focused on getting better as DBA and Developer, I am also focused on getting healthier. So for me, sitting in front of a computer is presently driving me nuts. At work, I have a sit-stand setup which is nice. At home, well I haven’t made that transition yet but it’s coming. I still struggle with actually making it to the gym after work. Some days/weeks are better than others. The days where I get my exercise in, I find whatever I’m studying to be more readily absorbed as opposed to the days I don’t work out. On those days, I’m not very patient with problems.

Training

As I mentioned making sure I make the time to be healthier is a struggle for me, so not alienating family or friends is another struggle. I can easily sit down and get sucked into training, writing code, or some other thing. That being said, there are times where I’ll sit down to train and end up on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or some other internet rabbit hole I didn’t mean to find. What I have found that works, are short focused blocks of time where I focus on the training. No more than 45 minutes or so, then I go do something else. Plus the added benefit is I make my wife happy. On the mentally tough days, I just don’t bother.

Costs

The costs associated with training can be tough. Online resources like Pluralsight, Safari Books, and one off web training are great because they are modular, as well as easily available over the web. The downside to these resources are the monthly subs. Sure by themselves, they are reasonable but have a few of them together and suddenly you’re spending upwards of $100 a month. Depending on your budget, that maybe ok…..or it might not be. Check with your spousal unit to be sure.

Oh, want to go to SQL Pass Summit, SQL Cruise, or some other destination learning opportunity? Now we’re talking in the mid 4 figures, plus time off from work. So unless you are willing to sacrifice vacation time and the family can tag along, you’re probably not going. And if the family does come along, are you really going to be as focused in the conference? I’m still trying to crack the destination conference nut, so I don’t have an answer for this one.

I honestly wish more companies would include training in their compensation package. Something like 2-3 days off (without using PTO) and $2k towards the conference. I would happily pick up travel, hotel, and food for the trip. However, when I have mentioned this I have been shot down by more than one manager. I wonder if it’s possible to find a sponsor….hmm, something I’ll have to check into.

 

Garland MacNeill, MSIT
Student of SQL – both as a DBA and a Developer
I am passionate about learning about databases.. After completing my graduate degree, my focus has been on gaining knowledge and skill as a SQL DBA, as well as a database developer.