I don’t often write about my job, 1.) because my job requires some explanation for anyone outside of my field to really understand what I do; 2.) because I rarely need to vent about my job; 3.) because my co-workers are tech-savvy enough to find my blog and read it; and 4.) because I know for a fact that IS Security (or someone in the company, anyway) has a search out for instances of our company name, and I’m not comfortable coming up on their radar. I’m proud of how far I’ve come in my job, though, and tonight I feel like sharing.
I came into my current job ignorant of all the concepts of Data Warehousing (DW) and Business Intelligence (BI); now, just over three years later, I have a pretty solid grasp of most of it. I still have room to grow, though, and am trying to take advantage of every opportunity to do so.
I started out in this job learning MicroStrategy, which is BI software that specializes in being a one-stop shop for many flavors of reporting: grids and graphs, formatted documents, drill-down reports, ad-hoc (i.e. build-your-own) reporting, dashboards, et al. I got to learn about the concepts of data warehousing and the rules of our own business while also learning how to create objects in this software program that corresponded to those conceptual bits. It worked out fairly well, actually, and I became one of the main MicroStrategy developers on our team (as the hiring manager had intended).
Over time, I got to dig into SQL — which, for you non-IT folks out there, is a query language for databases. I knew some SQL going in (I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have gotten the job otherwise), but my knowledge was rudimentary at best. My supervisor gave me some non-time-sensitive projects that stretched my SQL knowledge and skill, and those definitely helped me grow as a developer.
I’ve gotten to dig into other software, too, including Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) and, most recently, SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS). SSIS has been the one technology that has been holding me back from feeling like a “real” developer, since it’s at the heart of everything the DW team does. Sure, I can make an accurate and legible report from the warehoused data, but I haven’t been able to transform the data myself.
It’s also been a bit of a roadblock for me: the one time a potential learning-type project arose, the deadline was too soon for my comfort, and I turned it down… and another opportunity for me to jump into the technology didn’t arise until very recently. In the interim, my discomfort and uncertainty surrounding the software has compounded onto itself, which isn’t helpful to anyone. Especially me.
Right now, I’m wrapping up development on a project that combines several technologies that are new to me, including SSIS and SSRS, but with reporting content that is refreshingly familiar (this report was one of the first I worked on after being hired, and it’s time to convert it to a new technology). It’s exciting to be three years into a relatively comfortable gig and still be branching out into new and unfamiliar territory.
Sometimes — frequently, actually — I feel like the youngest fairy godmother at the party: my contributions feel ineffectual and barely necessary. Intellectually, I know this isn’t so, especially since I’ve been a major player in several key projects — but the intellectual side of my brain doesn’t often talk to the emo side. Once I beef up my technical knowledge, software proficiency, and programming skills, I’m sure I’ll start feeling like a bigger contributor to the DW team.
(Also — shh, don’t tell! — I’m redoubling my efforts in an attempt to get promoted to Level 2 by my next Annual Performance Review. This has been the longest stretch of employment I’ve ever been without a promotion and, no, sir, I don’t like it.)