SQL Tuesday #028 – Jack of All Trades, Master of None

This month’s TSQL Tuesday is hosted by Argenis Fernandez.  This month’s topic:  “blog about your experience. Tell us why you specialized, or why you’d like to specialize. If you don’t think that specialization is a good thing, tell us why. Discuss. Argue your point(s).”


My first job out of college was a Network Administrator for a small non-profit organization.  As the only IT guy in the organization, I was responsible for a lot…managing servers, planning upgrades, scheduling downtime, email setup/support, network switches, cabling, wireless network access/security, managing data, backing up data, help desk support, desktop pc support, web site design, managing the phone system, building overhead paging, video surveillance system, report design and generation, unjamming printers and copiers, evaluating new applications, and developing custom applications.  The organization has classrooms spread out across the entire county.  Each classroom had various technologies from a PC, to phones, answering machines, and speaker systems.

I definitely could not specialize in any particular area in this position.  On any given day I could have needed to travel 60 miles round trip to fix a problem in one of the outlying classrooms and return to my office prepare data to submit for a federally mandated report.  When people asked me what I did, I would tell them my job was to fix anything that plugged into a wall.  With a non-existent budget, I had to get creative to make things work in the organization.

Through a series of life choices, I moved on to a new company in a new position that focused more on systems and database administration.  This position is definitely a lot more specialized than where I started.  There are now other support groups that I can refer people to for issues with PC’s, Exchange, networking, phones, etc.

I still think that it is important to keep up on a lot of the basics, especially with SQL server.  People like to blame the database as the problem when often times the solution is not nearly that simple.  Many problems that I encounter on a day-to-day basis are rooted in specialties not directly related to SQL server.  I may not be a specialist in networking, pc repair, or Active Directory administration, but it has been very beneficial to me to have a good working knowledge of these concepts.  There are other people responsible for fixing these things at my current company.  I can usually figure out what the problems is  and direct to the correct support groups fairly quickly with my generalist background.

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