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Advice needed on getting DBA position

By Xyza ·
I need some career/resume advice! I posted this in the database forum, but it was suggested I post here as well. I have a strong background in database admin (6 years). I don?t have experience with Oracle, Sybase, etc, but have setup and maintained tables in databases using specialized software. I set up a help desk database in Lotus Notes, designed developed administrative and financial reports using Crystal Reports and SQL Server, maintained that particular database, and am currently setting up a database in a SIS (Student Information System) for a school district. I am working on integrating grading software and SIS so that teachers can electronically send grades to the school office, and the secretary can run a report, and there are the report cards! (Of which I use the ?code? to design the report card. I have now idea what they ?code? is, just something I?ve learned through looking at some of the other reports.)

I am trying to put together a resume for a database admin position. I am also this school district?s tech teacher, so I have my plate full! I am currently taking CBT on Oracle and Sybase, but I don?t know how much weight that will hold with prospective employers. I don?t know how to list these skills on my resume so that I would be considered for an Oracle or Sybase DBA job. These are the two db I see most often in job postings in my area.

I pick up these new software packages pretty well. Most of these projects are, ?Here?s the software we have. Learn it and then do this with it, in x amount of time.? I want to get more into dba since I enjoy it, am good at it, and I feel like I have a larger skill set than teaching 5-year-olds how to double click a mouse. Thanks for your thought!

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Be Honest, use keywords, reflect experience, be creative

The simple fact is that many people don't want anybody without any experience. The other fact is that many people use resume scanners to look for prospective clients.

That said:

* X years experience in database management and design.
* Experience in SQL Server and Crystal Reports
* Oracle and Sybase database experience

I'd become familiar with running queries and producing reports in those respective databases. Try to emulate some of the projects you've done in the school system in them as well (although I see some difficulty in getting working copies inexpensively - maybe trial copies? Check the web sites)

Database work is bread & butter stuff to many companies. Try to sell yourself positively, it shouldn't be too hard to find work in this area, but keep in mind you're looking at bigger companies. Smaller companies may use a SQL server from Microsoft or use Access for really small stuff (I wouldn't advise it for large projects).

It would be a GREAT idea to look around for any local database user groups that are gathering. Get to know the leadership there, and participate as well. Let people know you have what skills you do have, and that you're looking for work. Ask if there's someone you can contact (after you get the person's name you're asking) and then ask them if you can use their name as a point of reference. (This is called networking).

See if you can help jump in on any projects that someone's got going. May help get your foot in the door.

I actually just got my job because of a volunteer effort I did for a local SPCA organization (I had to break into their web server to take control after they were held hostage by prior admins). They passed my name on to someone else, and they hired me.

I'm also part of a local group and have volunteered as the Director of Communications, which just happens to post the jobs of interest to people in the security field in my area.

Good luck!


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Short Answer: You can't get there from here

by psinger1 In reply to Advice needed on getting ...

Why: "Setting up tables" is not the same as being a Data Architect. How much relational theory do you know? Do you really understand BCF? Do you know what BCF is? The default attribute for an Oracle column is nullable. Why is this a terrible idea? Oracle 10g will let you create a database more-or-less by default. How can you tell when these defaults are wrong? What is the difference between a database used for OLTP processing and one used for a Data Warehouse? What does ACID stand for?

If you didn't understand even one of the above questions, you are not ready for an Oracle DBA job, not when there are plenty of folks unemployed who do.

What you need to do is start a 5 year plan. You sound like you could get a job as a developer somewhere that Oracle is used. Take that job. Read everything you can by the Oak Table group. Once you are established, cozy up with the DBA's. Ask them lot's of good questions. Impress them with what you have read. Pass the 10g OCP examination. Let everyone know you would be interested if a DBA trainee position opens up. By this time, you will be ready for it.

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Good Luck

by beard In reply to Advice needed on getting ...

You basically do for a living exactly what I do for a living and I have had it explained to me by Civil Service that I am in no real way qualified for a DBA position.
The closest description I've come up with is a Data Base Manager.
Keep up with the training end, increase your experience, a bit of outside contracting will help. You can always find short term postings that are trying to create a team. If you can get in as a junior level data base person on these teams you will get a much better feel for what DBA truly entails.
If you need any help with the school gig, I've just completed exactly that K-12.

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next steps

by grephead In reply to Advice needed on getting ...

You need to get a position close to DBAs and learn from them. Then a jr level DBA, then a DBA. Your training will help you get there. I'm an Oracle/SQL Server DBA and that is how I got here. I was fortunate to get hired as a brand new Microsoft certified network admin with an Oracle consulting firm during the .com boom. For several years I was the gopher for the DBA team (I did installs and related work). That prepared me for the jr level and eventually "adult" DBA. Most DBAs are more scared of rookies than users or they should be! I haven't worked in the public sector so it may be easier in that environment. You are on the right path but it won't be the next job. One thing that corresponds to DBA work is system admin work. Much of Oracle in on Linux or Unix platforms - understanding these O/S helps as well.

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Stay away of the trouble

by ora_12154 In reply to Advice needed on getting ...

Your experience is just an application support, you actually haven't listed anything of value in the DBA world. Well, you don't have sysadmin background, no clue of storage systems. How long can the MT reliably keep the data? You also don't have a developer's background. So you will be dangereous for the sys administrators/managers, and useless for developers. Advice? Persue the application support venue; SAP/3 and Oracle Financials support folks have better life and make on average more money than we, DBA's.

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Passion To become a DBA

by naveed_ali_12 In reply to Advice needed on getting ...

You must be passionate to become an Oracle DBA. When you have the passion, you will become. People become DBA ... why can't you. Remember! Never afraid of learning, start learning without any delay.

Where To Start :
* Start from Books, complete the books 1st, books like Introduction to Databases/Relational Database Management Systems/ Information Systems etc.,. Different terms and concepts like OLTP, OLAP, Datamines, Data Warehouses, VSAM, ISAM, VLDB etc. all you will learn from these books. Then go further to read the books on Oracle Database Administration topic. The articles you read on the web counts but they can't be the substitute for a whole book. So go for the books first.

* Gain the knowledge of Computer Networks.(a plus)

* Always try to think from DBA's standpoint :) ... Tens of Millions of Rows, the Physical Database Structure, the Logical Database Design, the Disaster Recovery Planning, How to tune the Database and the Operating System(rememeber on several OS platforms the OS tunning is also essential besides database tunning).

* Several database vendors are offering Express Editions of their databases. Try to install and work on your favourite database as much as possible.

* When you feel that you have completed most from the above steps, you are ready for the entry level DBA position. Its upon you that how much you are willing to learn and how fast you learn. The time will come when you will become an experienced DBA.

* If someone discourages you ... never get hurt, feel yourself more enthusiastic for your goal. Hope you will achieve your goal!

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