A Tale of Training

As a follow-up to my previous post about the steps you may have to go through to attend training if your employer can't or won't offer assistance in the form of either money or time off, I have a story of my own to tell. I was unhappy at my previous place of work for several reasons, a few of which I've blogged about already and a few more I'm sure will come in the future.

Back in March it was announced that SQLskills was coming to Chicago in May for one of their immersion events, and I immediately knew I had to find a way to get there for several reasons. First, they hadn't ever held such an event in Chicago before, at least that I had known of. Second, it was actually in the suburb of Oak Brook, which is no more than 20 minutes from my house, meaning I could save significant money by not having to pay for hotel accommodations. I realize there are some good reasons others have blogged about for staying at the hotel for such an event as opposed to commuting home every night, but for me the money savings was key. Finally (and perhaps most importantly), I felt I was ready for such training. Had this occurred a year earlier I don't think I would have been prepared, but at this point I believed I had the solid understanding of concepts that would allow me to benefit from this level of instruction.

Lemonade When I took my previous job, I was told they had a budget for training and professional development and that I would be able to make use of it if an appropriate event came up. Had I been told otherwise, I never would have accepted the position to begin with. Feeling the immersion event was a great opportunity, I brought it up to my manager. He said he would think about it and get back to me. A month passed and I heard nothing, so I asked again. At that point he told me no, he wouldn't be able to help me pay for it, because he didn't feel I needed any training. You see, I had this habit of getting my work done correctly, on time, and never really had to ask anyone to help me in the process. To me that would mean that I'm a good worker, but apparently to him it meant that I was as good as he needed me to be and thus didn't need any form of training. I guess to be worthy of training, I would need to screw things up or asked to have my hand held while doing my job. What an excellent work ethic to instill in your employees!

After a few more attempts of explaining that such opportunities don't come around often, I got a final answer of no, they would not pay for it. Ok fine, I thought. I told them I would pay for it myself and asked if I could have the time off to attend without taking away from my vacation. I got a firm "no" for that as well. I was also told that taking the time off without pay wasn't an option, so the only way I was getting the time off to attend the class would be if I requested the vacation time and they decided to approve it. Realizing again that the chance for such training wouldn't come around again for a while, I decided to go ahead and take the week off to attend. I felt the benefits of the immersion event would far outweigh the cost in terms of both money and vacation time. Besides, I might not always have the money to front for such experiences.

I went to the class and it was amazing. Everything I had hoped it would be. I've already blogged about my experience, so if you're interested and haven't read about it already, feel free to check out that post.

When I got back to work after my week of vacation, recharged from my week of being immersed, the funniest thing happened. My manager had the gall to ask me if I could copy my notes and materials from the class so the other DBAs could benefit. My answer literally was "not just no, HELL NO!". I attended that class on my own dime and my own time. Work had no interest in it, and besides I was on vacation. Whether I spent the week doing consulting work, lying on a beach, or being an axe murderer it really shouldn't matter to them. He wasn't pleased, but I had another ace up my sleeve:

The benefits of our SQL Server community never cease to amaze me. It's an amazing way to meet other people, and those people will put you in touch with others, some of which might be looking to hire a new DBA. A few weeks prior to the immersion event I got an email from Brent Ozar (blog | @BrentO) saying that one of his clients was looking to hire a new DBA and he thought I would be a great fit. He put me in touch with them, I interviewed, and I was offered the job while I was away at training for the week. Upon my return I was planning on giving my two weeks' notice anyway, but it was an extra convenient time to do so when I was asked to hand over my notes. It made the moment all the sweeter.

So what's the lesson from all of this? I like to think that "if there's a will, there's a way." I was able to achieve my goal and learn a ton even though it cost me money and vacation time. Perhaps the bigger lesson here is that nothing has to be permanent if you don't want it to be. Never be afraid to ping your network when you're looking for work, even if you're just passively exploring your options. You never know what might pop up.

A very Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers who celebrate it! While it's an American holiday, I like to think that the concept of gathering with family and loved ones to share a meal and reflect on our many blessings can be appreciated in any corner of the world. All the best to you and yours!