re: What is your advice for a senior engineer with 10 years of experience? VIEW POST


Short answer: yes. A broad base of skills is an asset, but at some point you need to have a shortlist and start digging deep into it. Management consultants with really expensive watches call this "T-shaped skills".

I put most of my chips on data pretty early on and not quite fifteen years later I think it was a good call.


Data is definitely a big deal now. What did your journey look like? Did you focus on the different database engines and technologies, or more on concepts? Could use a few book recommendations.


I started as a student intern at a commercial lending startup and dropped out to work there full time (if I'd have graduated it'd have been right into the teeth of the 07-08 crash). I did a lot of database design, data access framework implementation, web service layers, and CI infrastructure. Most of my ensuing career has been more of the same.

Concepts are the important part. Relational databases all more or less conform to one standard, and once you understand what's going on internally it's easy to go from SQL Server's SELECT TOP 100... to everybody else's SELECT ... LIMIT 100. A b-tree index does the same thing no matter who wrote it, and so on. Chasing specific implementations without a solid grasp of the fundamentals of data storage and access is how you get caught up in fads like the "document stores will kill relational stores" thing of the early 10s; document stores are an important niche class, but they're not an RDBMS replacement. It's more important to know what problems they solve than the exact details of their usage.

Books: Lex de Haan & Toon Koppelaars' Applied Mathematics for Database Developers and Charity Majors & Laine Campbell's Database Reliability Engineering are both excellent.

Thanks for the recommendations. I'll check them out.

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