Re: Career questions: databases

From: dreamznatcher <>
Date: Sun, 01 Jul 2007 14:53:20 -0700
Message-ID: <>

On Jul 2, 1:51 am, "Neil" <> wrote:
> Not to pound this into the ground, but I think, with any technology, there
> are various aspects of the technology that one could be proficient in
> without being proficient in all aspects of the technology. (Perhaps one
> could postulate that being proficient in all or nearly all aspects of a
> technology might be a definition of being "expert").
> When I worked onsite as a contractor, I was both involved with hiring
> individuals, and was hired by individuals. Typically, when one was looking
> for a candidate for a position, what was required was that one was
> proficient in various aspects of the technology, not all aspects. A person
> may say, "I've never done this or that, but I've done this and that," and
> that would be enough, since we weren't looking for someone "expert" in the
> technology, but merely "proficient" in the technology.
> So for someone to put on their resume that they are "proficient" in a
> technology because they can work with some aspects of a technology, but not
> necessarily all aspects, is, in my opinion, very legitimate. That could be
> all that a client is looking for.
> But I agree that many people put items on their resume if they just
> "breathed" on it or had the most basic of experience in it. That's
> illegitmate. But not being expert, but being proficient to perform tasks,
> even if not all tasks, is, in my opinion, a legitimate reason to put it on
> one's resume.
> Neil
> "DA Morgan" <> wrote in message
> > Neil wrote:
> >> While agreeing with your point about resume fluff, in all fairness, the
> >> person claimed he was "proficient" in those technologies, not "expert" in
> >> them. At what point does one become "proficient"? That's a good question.
> >> But I don't think one needs to be able to field live questions from an
> >> audience of developers in order to call oneself "proficient."
> >> Neil
> > I appreciate that but to me proficiency has a higher standard than,
> > perhaps, for you. Would you call a DBA that writes shell scripts to
> > back up 10g database proficient? I wouldn't.
> > To quote:
> >
> > pro·ficient·ly adv.
> > Synonyms: proficient, adept, skilled, skillful, expert
> > These adjectives mean having or showing knowledge, ability, or skill, as
> > in a profession or field of study. Proficient implies an advanced degree
> > of competence acquired through training:
> > Note: "advanced degree of competence acquired through training"
> > --
> > Daniel A. Morgan
> > University of Washington
> > (replace x with u to respond)
> > Puget Sound Oracle Users Group
> >

I'm really perplexed here. I never on heaven or earth could have ever imagined a single word I used could have spawned all this... "proficient". Who really cares, anyway, as long as (as Neil points out) I (or anyone claiming to be proficient in any particular area) manages to get a job done? We're all developers here, some good, some bad; but in the end all that matters if we can deliver or not.. and how (i.e. timeliness, accuracy, quality, interface, stability..). I guess it's the "how" part here in the argument that's raising all the hullabaloo.

Let's be frank and admit that avid developers are more often perfectionists than not. We have to be on the top of the game, we have to be top-notch; we're constantly striving to the extent of reducing or adding a single statement among millions of lines of code for the sake of improving the performance, quality and inner beauty (that's a vague term to use here, isn't it? But if you would agree the equation E = mc^2 is beautiful, you'll probably understand) even by a minute bit. Why do we do all this? Why do we eat, sleep, drink and dream code? For the last few nights, why am I always dreaming of coding the exact block I couldn't because my body refused to remain awake anymore? Ever since I've been working on this application, and whenever I am ever working on anything, how does my mind always manage to slip away from restaurants and people and traffic and fried chicken and everything around me, to pure, hard code?

I'm sure all of you have consistently or at least at times experienced feelings like these. I don't think it's totally because of the constant pressure of clients, or because of the sort of crazed zeal some folks in college exhibit in fishing for A's despite their evident disregard for practicality and disrespect for proper understanding (how on God's earth do some of this bunch end up with great jobs, anyway?). To cut a long and tall story short, we're like this because we chose to be.

So adhering to that philosophy, how do you classify proficiency or expertise? I can't.There are thousands who fit that bill. By the standards many of you have set out, I'm probably not even intermediate. But then again I know what I can do and I have the confidence that there are areas in which I could beat each and everyone of you at your own game.. and that holds true for the potential of each and every individual. What really drives the world? Being great at syntax in any area -- being the perfect lawyer, the meticulous banker, the ambitious actor, the coder who knows every nook and cranny of the application -- are great and are greatly appreciated in society because such proficiency offers a FORMAT that society can read.. predict.. and regulate if necessary.

There are zillions of people alive and kicking who can know everything by the book and deliver flawless code if given the chance... think ahead 50 years. Won't artificial intelligence be capable of doing that? What good are such "experts" then? If we can and believe to be led by the idea that simply delievering according to a set of regulations (however big that set might be) proves us "proficient", where does the value of knowledge stand? And whatever on earth happens to creativity?

I remember a faculty member in our university never allowed closed book exams; he argued that if someone can solve a problem in 20 mins while it takes someone else 200, it doesn't mean either of the two are better. I dare say (and thank God I've admitted my limitations) I know far less than most of you about Oracle or just about any language or rdbms I mentioned. Fair enough. Now give me a chance: let me learn.

Give me the kind of schooling you get at Stanford (someone mentioned Stanford for databases), buy me the software (okay, I'll buy it but I don't have a credit card so even if I had the money it would still be unattainable) and let me enter a good library (you won't believe this: there are hardly 3-4 titles on databases available in this country). Then, give me some time (a few months to a few years) and come back. I'm sure I won't be a poor challenger. Once again, I'm not bragging here. I'm talking about any average Joe here. Just about any guy who wants to learn and is willing to work hard. And mind you there are millions of such people out there.

But what good would I be among such a huge pool of "experts"? True, there's plenty of fodder for everyone. And of course I don't intend to say experts are useless or unimportant. I started this post, and wanted to make a point (which applies to myself and I'm sure it does for many others as well): I might not be able to code as well as most of you, but I feel I can IMAGINE database-driven applications; I have the faith that in a world already crammed with godzillion bytes of code I still might be able to tell you of software and programs that are yet to be built. Just because I don't have the language to express my idea doesn't mean I'm blind or that I immediately fall into a substandard  category. If I can tell what the thing will be like, there will be always people capable of building it.

What I was looking for here was assistance -- making me find my voice so that I can transform the vague ideas I have into reality. That intention has been partially satisfied with some really informative and enlightening posts. I'll repeat my primary message here, as trimmed down as possible: I can draw any ERD you'll ask me to, probably fast enough to get a few people impressed. What should I do with this ability? What should I specifically learn? What job might this proficiency... just kidding, ability... get me?

Same questions, in a new bottle and with added vigour. Still, answers would be greatly appreciated.

A point to be noted:
It's natural people will have different views. Some might be overtly confident about his or her knowledge and that might not even be a bad thing. For others a different mechanism might be at play. Isn't that all part of the gene pool? Why the whole fuss and the philosophy? Leave Morgan to his view; I don't think he's entirely wrong. Classifications of expertise do exist and are prevalent in society. Think about the scale that determines your paycheck. Leave Bob alone too. He's talking in his own spirit, just as we all are. What's the big fuss?

What if proficiency or expertise go down in history as undecided and undefined terms? Could you ever define the most centrifugal terms of our consciousness... love, hate, pain, life? No programming language could ever reciprocate the beauty of a monsoon breeze or the echo in the hollow of your heart. We're here to admire all that, and create our own incarnations of beauty. And one day, perhaps we'll find out why God chose us to be.

Someday, looking back, historians will certainly look back (they've already started) and classify the 21st century as the age of intolerance. Whatever category of expertise we fall into, let's not get tagged into that compartment.

Sorry for such a long post. Reminder: some questions included in thread. Received on Sun Jul 01 2007 - 23:53:20 CEST

Original text of this message