Free Video: 300-Level Guide to Career Internals: Planning Your Career

Who is that masked man?
Erika applies a mask to me at the Blue Lagoon

Hi. I’m writing this from a cottage in Iceland, in the midst of a 9-month digital nomad stint.

I’m teaching classes and doing client work for 1-2 weeks, then Erika and I take off and hit the road for 2-3 weeks at a time, driving around the country, seeing the sights, and sharing ’em on my Instagram feed.

I’m a database administrator.

I cannot believe this is my life.

I’ve always been really big on sharing everything that I know, and I wanna share everything that I know to help you crank up your career, too.

As the pandemic gradually comes to an end and companies change they way they work (again), so many folks are rethinking their careers – trying to work remotely forever, or getting back to the office that they miss, or changing their work/life balance.

You’re overwhelmed with choices: so many things you could learn, so many ways you could specialize in your career. Which one should you choose? What are the safe bets, and what are the risky bets? Should you be a contractor? A consultant? A freelancer? Specialize in the cloud, and if so, what products? There’s no guide for data professionals here, and it’s kinda scary.

About ten years ago, I sat down with a pen and paper to analyze the ways that I could make a living with data. I devoured a lot of business books, thought about the kinds of things companies pay money for, and laid out a simple grid to help decide what kind of career I wanted to build for myself.

Today, you’re facing the same problems. In one session, I’ll explain what companies pay for, what individuals pay for, and how you could build different careers with that knowledge. I won’t tell you what’s right for you – I just want to give you a map of different choices, like a guidance counselor would. I’ll finish the session by explaining the choice I made, and why.

If you like this video, check out the SQLBits YouTube channel. They’re releasing all of last year’s conference videos online for free in YouTube. When you subscribe to their channel, you’ll automatically get notifications as new videos get uploaded.

Feel free to ask followup questions here in the comments. I don’t get notified when folks ask questions in the YouTube comments on the SQLBits channel, so I don’t respond quickly there, but I respond here.

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10 Comments. Leave new

  • Brent, Massive congrats. You did it!

    Thanks for this video. Puts a lot into perspective. Hope you enjoy the rest of the nomad stint.

  • Robert Sterbal
    June 17, 2021 5:44 pm

    Nice matrix. I really like the top right. Is there someone with the same generosity that you have in that quadrant who I should follow? If it is easier to come up with a list, feel free to share that.

    If you want feedback on the style video style, I might have liked it even more with a few fade transitions instead of so many hard cuts. Definitely would work differently for someone else.

    • Robert – great question about the top right quadrant, but no, I don’t follow any bloggers over there. That quadrant (high business pain, but no urgency) tends to be the domain of “regular” consultants, folks who work for big companies like I talk about in the video. If you want to learn that, your best bet is to go to work at a big company and learn from mentors there.

      Thanks for the video feedback!

  • Jordan Tenjeras
    June 17, 2021 6:30 pm

    So, it looks like Michigan in the winter – totally grey skies – and you’re applying sunscreen? Maybe your next out-of-the-country-remote-working-location could be in the Caribbean where they actually have sun?? Ahem. Thanks Brent for your generosity and knowledge sharing. Thanks Erika for keeping Brent sunburn-free so he can continue doing what he does. 😉

  • You are looking like a real Icelander now!

    Thanks for sharing.

  • Trevor Dwyer
    June 17, 2021 7:45 pm

    Ah i remember emailing you about this list of yours and mentioned that until you had gone to the Maldives you didn’t know what heaven on earth actually was ? now your close with Iceland but goto the Maldives !! I hate the sea and true sand and still didn’t want to ever leave

  • Gerald Versluis
    June 17, 2021 11:33 pm

    Great video. About five years ago I had a choice: work as a PFE for Western Europe with Microsoft, or work for a bit less at a company 10 mins drive from home, where I knew I’d have some nice challenges and a great team. I chose the latter, and haven’t regretted it for a day.

    And BTW, about wanting to be you… to be honest, I’ll pass because of what Lori Edwards said. And I’m pretty sure Erika doesn’t want me to be you 😀

  • Brent, thank you for this video.

    i have a related question and it would be helpful to know your perspective.

    At what point do you think someone should consider themselves ready to teach others or do consulting? I would with SQL Server, Power BI, Reporting services and Crystal report. Power BI is my area of interest followed by SQL Server. But I just create basic dashboards and have never had performance issues. How do I come across those challenging problems so that I can learn, document and provide services around those?

    I guess I always struggle to know if I am ready. Like what if I cannot solve the problem that client is facing. What are your thoughts?


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