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PaulTill2508
14th July 2010, 20:21
Hi All,

I'm new here (which will probably become obvious soon enough!) so go easy on me :smile

First for some background on my position;

I'm currently permanently employed and have been for the last 10 years with the same company, I've been thinking about making the move to contracting for some time now - for several reasons: money, variety of work and different places of work, flexibility, lack of progression where I am now...the usual stuff.

However, with the state of the market I've been too chicken to take the plunge, things have now changed, my current employer has offered voluntary severance which I've accepted and will be leaving on 31st Dec 2010 (not a great time to find a contract for a newbie I know - but its non-negotiable ... I asked!). The severance payment sets me up for about 10 months worth of take home pay on my current salary, if I cant get a contract of some description in 10 months then I don't deserve one!

I've worked in a variety of technical roles but for the last 5 years I've been an Oracle DBA with a mix of Oracle development.

Now ... to the point of the post! My main concern is the limitation I've imposed on myself by only really being able to sell myself as an Oracle DBA, I am very proficient in PL/SQL and unix development but after that I feel my skillset is a bit lacking...I can and have done some C# and minor web development but cant really claim much in the way of production experience.

Most of the Contractor Guides you read bang on about "not letting your skills get out of date" my point is ... how do I (as a contractor) get real experience in skills that I've only learnt in the classroom or by self study? As a permie you just moan a bit about lack of training and development and then get moved around and sent on a course ... as a contractor you cant get a job if you don't have the relevant experience, so you cant get the experience and cant get a job! Sounds like a catch 22 to me but surely people have progressed as contractors into other areas? How have people managed this?

If I want to ensure I can get work in the current climate I feel I need to be able to apply for more than just Oracle DBA jobs ... would I be right or is it quite common for contractors to only have one main skill? What happens in 5 years when Oracle automate me out of a job at version 13!? :ohwell

Any insights from someone experienced would be much appreciated.

Thanks in advance.
Paul

centurian
15th July 2010, 12:27
:wave:

A common contractor problem. The easiest way is to go for split roles - a role which contains your core skills (hence it enables you to actually get the role in the first place), but also other skills. In your case, this would be a role which is largely Oracle, but also some SQL Server / web development to get your teeth into as well - in a commercial environment.



If I want to ensure I can get work in the current climate I feel I need to be able to apply for more than just Oracle DBA jobs ... would I be right or is it quite common for contractors to only have one main skill?


Some specialise. There will be legacy systems around for decades, so your skills will always be in demand - just that it may be much harder to find the roles.

Having a diverse CV can be a double edged sword though, especially in this market, as it can portray you as a "jack of all trades, master of none". Right now, clients are picky and want masters of trades.


What happens in 5 years when Oracle automate me out of a job at version 13!? :ohwell


My impression of Oracle is that it has always been harder to use - seemingly deliberately so from Oracle to create a degree of mysticism about it - which is great for Oracle DBA's, because you get to present yourselves as... well... "oracles", I guess :D

Has there been a shift in recent years to make the management tools more intuitive and easy to use.

TheFaQQer
15th July 2010, 12:55
If you are an eBusiness Suite DBA then there should be plenty of patching work around for years to come. If you aren't, then get the certification - it's fairly routine for a DBA and you can at least say "I've been a DBA for x years, and am a certified Apps DBA". Apps DBA work is slightly different from real DBA work - lots more patching, less control over what you can do to tweak the database etc.

There should also be a reasonable amount of core DBA work out there as well. Oracle have been talking about the self-managing database since 8i really, and it's still nowhere near. There are certain things that are getting easier to manage, but at the end of the day, you still need someone to do the real work if you are to have any confidence in what the database is doing.

If you are worried about getting out of date, then do the "new features" courses when the new version comes out.

I'd be more worried if I was still a PL/SQL developer - once Fusion comes out, the Oracle world moves more to Java as it's a cheap resource, and Oracle technical development as we know it changes completely.

Good luck.

the_rangdo
15th July 2010, 13:39
Similar issue with me, I've been using SAS for 15 years (variety of uses from warehousing to reporting) but have always missed out on the shiny new SAS toys.

A lot of gigs now ask for DI Studio, which is just a nice pointy-clicky code generator at the end of the day.

Thankfully I managed to win a course of my choice and picked DI Studio then told current gig that I can do the job code-wise, I've been on a course but not used the interface in a commercial environment.

They were happy to allow me to learn on the job as long as I put a little extra effort in (few extra hours here and there)

I suppose the moral is a bit of luck is involved, in my case a client that was happy to recognise I have the ability to do the job but just haven't used the latest tools. The main thing is to be able to demonstrate you're capable.

northernladuk
15th July 2010, 14:33
Most of the Contractor Guides you read bang on about "not letting your skills get out of date" my point is ... how do I (as a contractor) get real experience in skills that I've only learnt in the classroom or by self study? As a permie you just moan a bit about lack of training and development and then get moved around and sent on a course ... as a contractor you cant get a job if you don't have the relevant experience, so you cant get the experience and cant get a job! Sounds like a catch 22 to me but surely people have progressed as contractors into other areas? How have people managed this?


You are a business now so the main onus on having skills required sits squarley on your shoulders and investment has to be made. Paying for, and attending courses is par for the course. Get the certs first, get yourself a contract, any contract second. With a bit of luck you can get a role using your main skills and whilst on the contract you can attach yourself to someone that is experienced in the technology you are interested in. You can either get an awareness of the technology by asking or even better you can slide yourself in to that role with your current client. I wouldn't advise taking a course and then holding out for a role with that technology. You still have a living to make in a tough market.

If you do have a very nice payout that will sustain you why not trawl the charity companies and offer your services and a very low or even free rate. Do that for a month or three, deliver something of use to them and then stick that down on your CV. If possible create a home project based on a real life situation so you can say you have at least developed your skills.

Apart from that cross everything you have and start applying. There is of course the option to buff up your CV with some exaggerrated experience and hope you can hit the ground running when you get there but the fall out of this going wrong doesn't bear thinking about and getting kicked of a contract so early will be very difficult to shrug off.

TheFaQQer
15th July 2010, 15:19
I went to Goa to do my OCP DBA training and exams - three weeks in the sun, 1:1 tuition, 5* hotel. And cheaper than a five day course in Reading.

OCP needs to have done at least one hands-on training course (presumably to bring more money into Oracle Education), so it was worth it to go that far and enjoy it more.

PaulTill2508
15th July 2010, 16:40
Thanks for all your replies - really helpful and appreciated.

I'm already certified up to my neck as an Oracle DBA (OCP 9,10,11 and OCM 10), I like the idea of getting and Oracle Apps certification and playing on the core DBA skills - seen a lot of Apps work knocking around.

You are quite right about the Oracle self managing thing, if anything from 8-->11 its got more complicated! I was more thinking about less people using Oracle and moving to other types of RDBMS thus leaving me out in the cold (SQL Server seems much more popular these days), so I'd like to have a backup skill set really.

Glad to hear that split contracts are possible - hopefully this will be my best play, go for a DBA role with some secondary development requirements, or a core DBA with Apps and SQL Server ... time to get some SQL Server and Oracle Apps certifications!

Thanks again for all your input.

Paul

TheFaQQer
15th July 2010, 20:59
I'm already certified up to my neck as an Oracle DBA (OCP 9,10,11 and OCM 10), I like the idea of getting and Oracle Apps certification and playing on the core DBA skills - seen a lot of Apps work knocking around.


You should be able to play on the OCM quite a lot - IIRC, there's not too many about.

If you want real DBA work, then stay away from the Apps side of things. There's a lot more restriction about what Oracle let you do with the database outside of eBusiness Suite than within it.