8/02/2015

New Career Model for Today's Youth

You learn in school, to get good grades.

You get good grades to get into a good college.

You graduate college to get a good job.

You get a good job to get married, house and raise a family.

You expect to work for the same company your entire career.

And then retire, with a pension.


That was the old model.

Here's the new model.

Be accountable for your career.

Learn as much as you can, for the rest of your career.

Skip college, why delay 4 years of your life and rack up student loan debt.

Carry no debt, one credit card for everyday purchases.

Be mobile, rent , don't own.

Build your network, attend user group meetings and seek out industry experts on social media.

Consider doing "free"work, to gain experience.

Start a blog, write about the industry that interest you.

Be well rounded, yet focus on specific skills.

Learn how to sell things, ideas and yourself.

Learn how to communicate, Take a class on "improv", "public speaking" or writing short stories.

Learn business skills, like accounting, how to create proposals, contracts and statements of work.

Find an accountant, attorney and financial planner, early in your career.

Plan on changing jobs every few years, gaining skills along the way.

Don't celebrate too long on success, a career is a marathon, not sprint.

You are competing with people across the globe, who will work for less money.

Be able to multi-task, work many project simultaneously.

Do not place a glass ceiling on your potential, find a way to open closed doors.

Realize there are occasional setbacks in any career, keep moving forward.

Identify the biggest problem of an organization, and solve it.

Don't follow the herd, the security they seek doesn't exist.

You are an independent consultant, even if you have a full time job.

Any employee is replaceable, what have you done today to add value.

Associate with people who inspire, not limit your potential.

Make time for fun, the work will be there when you get back.

Most of your peers will not be able to fund their retirement, take your allotted vacations while you're still young.

Take time to smell the roses, the years fly by much faster than you'd expect.

Seek others advice, but make your own career decisions.

Our economy is based on bubbles, recognize and adapt.

Having opinions are great, better to stay neutral on politics, religion and money debates.

Counter offers are not recommended, except to boost egos temporarily.

Bottom line, nobody is going to look out for you, that's your #1 job.

8/01/2015

Interviewed for a Job in T-Shirt and Shorts

Before Monster.com, before social media sites, finding a job was not always that easy.

I had been working for a major retail company, processing credit card applications over the  phone.  It paid $7.50 an hour.  After two years I rolled perm at $7.80 an hour.

One day I scanned the newspaper, the want ads, saw a posting for credit analyst close to the current job.  I decided to drop off a resume, and then head to play tennis.

So I got to their office, headed to the 4th floor, met the receptionist. I said, "I'd like to apply for the Credit Analyst position.  Here's a copy  of my resume".

She looked at me for a minute, I was in a t-shirt, shorts and sneakers.  She said, "wait here one minute, I'll go give this to the director".

A few minutes later, she returned, said, "The director would like to speak with you now, do you have some time available?".

And she escorted me through the door, down the hall, there was a line of people in cubes, working on the computers.  I got to his office, shook his hand and he asked questions.

About where I worked, my skills, my college degree, available start date.

I explained that I wasn't planning on doing an interview, but what the heck, shorts and all.

A few days later, I got a call they wanted to hire me.  With a raise.  $19,000, full time, with benefits.

And so I  resigned from my job and started work at the new company.

Later I found out that one of the reasons I got hired was because they needed a 4th tennis player for their after work game.  And I filled in, and we played in downtown Buckhead in Atlanta, at a giant a mansion, which had a tennis court in the backyard,  Really expensive house.

After I got hired,I thanked the Directory so much, he said, "Okay already, I'll bump your salary to $21,000."

Wow, so much money.  Great company.  Learning the Credit industry.

And that's the story.

7/31/2015

Microsoft SSDT, Birst and Analytics Meetup

I attended a community event recently.  Data Analytics.  They presented a tool from Microsoft called SQL Server Data Tools:

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/ssdt/

https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/mt204009.aspx

https://social.msdn.microsoft.com/Forums/sqlserver/en-US/home?forum=ssdt

It's a free add-in.  Used to manage the SQL Server databases.  In that you can connect to an existing SQL Server database, and pull in the entire set of artifacts.  Make changes, redeploy, it keeps track of the scripts.  You can do compares against projects, other database, even dacpacs.

And the project gets saved to a source code repository like Team Foundation Server.

It allows "snapshots" of database as points in time.  It's got tons of configuration settings.

If you work someplace where the production database is off limits, you can hand off the dacpacs to someone and they install without having to be a DBA.  Good for change management.

For smaller teams working without a DBA, its optimal for version control, backups, restores, applying changes to other databases and compares.

It doesn't save the data, but they showed a feature to compare data, for smaller data sets as it could cause a performance hit on larger tables.

The presenter mentioned Service Broker.  The objects have dependencies and making changes can be quite a challenge.  With this tool, you can make changes and apply them and they get deployed to  the database easily.

I wouldn't necessarily do my development in this tool.  I'm going to start using it immediately.

The next presenter discussed the product Birst, a data tool in the cloud.

http://www.birst.com/

He demonstrated the ability to pull in data, from Excel and Amazon AWS cloud, it builds the model for you, including Fact Table and Dim tables, on the fly, with no assistance.  That right there is quite awesome.  Although I'm not sure how one would apply business rules to the ETL and handle NULL values.  It even built the Time dimension without being prompted.

Once the model was created and the data was available, it has the ability to do Data Discovery and poke around the data with different charts and graphs and tables.  Those can be added to a Dashboard.  And it also has a more granular feature to build other reports.  And a filter feature to connect to the Dashboard for user interaction.  And KPIs.  As well as a client component installed on a local database which pushes the data, although having a live connection could take performance hit.

They said a new release is expected in 2 weeks so some of the features should get enhanced.  I thought it was a cool product and ideal for the Power User / Data Citizen, one who sits on both sides of the fence, having domain knowledge and technical skills and likes to dig into the data.

The last presenter discussed Analytics.  Gave examples of Target sending out coupons to people who were thought to be pregnant, even a teenage girl who hadn't revealed her pregnancy.  But it helps to explain how much information is collected to get a good picture of their client base at the detail level.

He also explained how the new algorithms are used to assess the optimal marketing campaigns, which can not be duplicated by humans on it's precision and  accuracy.  And he also talked about Social Media analytics and Sentiment Analysis.  It's quite powerful.

It was a good event, met some nice people, learned some new things.  Good stuff~!

Pros and Cons of Technical Consultants

Consulting has many benefits and challenges.



Good
There's flexibility.  Variety.  Constant challenges.  Problems to be solved.  Deliver results.  New people.  New places.  New technologies.

Opportunities

Expectations that you know everything.  Tight deadlines.  Time management.  Multiple concurrent clients.  Pressure.  Estimating Projects.

Typically, the role of a technology consultant is to deliver results.  On time.  Under budget.


What if the estimated hours were too low?  Work harder.  Smarter.  All night.  Whatever it takes.


What if you're expected to work in a technology you aren't an expert.  Figure it out.  Fast.


What about the hours you have to travel to the client, there's drive time or flying time?  It's just part of the job.


What about learning new technologies to maintain expert level?  You have to carve out time, stay up late.


What about family time?  You have to become efficient in time management.


What about eating healthy and staying in shape and reading non technical book or laundry or catching up on sleep?  Again, time management.


What about speaking or attending technical community events, or writing blogs or authoring a book or two?  Again, time management.




What about spending time with co-workers at your consulting firm?  Again, time management.  


What about filling out expense reports and keeping track of hours worked per task in time management system?  Again, time management.


What about laptop maintenance, installing new software and service packs and hot fixes?  Again, time management.


What about time to study for Certification exams?  Make time.

Consulting is a fast paced world.  You have to pace yourself.  And drink plenty of coffee.