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Career Story: Senior Database Administrator At A Trade Association

Senior Database Administrator At A Trade Association

Job Title: Senior DBA/Analyst

Type of Company: My organization is a non-profit trade association representing the mutual fund industry.

Education: BS Computer Science, University of Maryland, College Park

Previous Experience: Upon graduation from college I worked for five years in various federal government contracting positions. These were "8A" contracting firms that generally require less experience than other entrance level positions.

Job Tasks: I am responsible for development and production database servers running on the Solaris (a flavor of Unix) operating system. Additionally, I participate in the life cycle application development including: end-user interviewing, requirements gathering, specification writing, implementing (writing the actual code), debugging & testing, deployment, and training. In addition, I troubleshoot computer problems at all levels and support statistical gathering, compilation, and reporting. I fix bugs in programs - for example when the money market mutual fund industry's assets exceed 3.4 trillion all of our programs failed. This was because our programs had defined this value to the database as an integer value and 3.4 trillion exceeds the maximum integer value. The programs had to be modified to convert the data to a longer data type (i.e. floating point number).

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: Coding and debugging are the best parts of the job. I also enjoy talking to the users for gathering requirements.

The worst part of the job is making sure that NO corruption happens at any level. Database dumps must be maintained as well as a backup database server at a remote location. The very worst part is trying to fix a production failure. Workers are mostly idle and their managers are unhappy. My bosses want to know when things will be up and running and some times I have no idea what even went wrong.

Job Tips:
1. If you do not like puzzles and/or give up easily then do not go into the field.

2. Learn to type well.

3. Take a well-rounded computer science curriculum including assembler, data structures, languages, logic, compiler design (optional but helpful).

4. Learn basic SQL and understand relational database design.

Additional Thoughts: Again, if you do not like to figure out puzzles and/or get frustrated easily this is not the appropriate career. You must enjoy working by yourself most of the time.

I would not change anything about my career. It has allowed me the freedom to work part-time for 15 years to raise my children. It has been an excellent source of revenue for our family and I truly enjoy working with computers in the capacity that I do.

However, it is very difficult to be a female in a male dominated field - and 25 years later, it is not too much different.

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