Calling all data “wranglers” / developers – and those that want to know more about SQL Server!

I’ve received a few emails over the past couple of months from people feeling that they’re “stuck” or they’re frustrated or they just don’t know how to move forward in their career. One is a developer who works with great DBAs but wants to be able to “speak their language”. Others are developers that have worked with SQL Server but they’ve never been given time to know more. SQL Server has been a “black box” of “juju magic” and heck if they’ve ever had time to know more!

However, as databases grow larger and as online life continues to grow, so do these backend systems. And, some people want to put some of their “working from home” time toward gaining knowledge. Knowing more about what happens in the back-end can help you be a better developer and possibly lead to a more systems-focused career (if desired) OR just the ability to speak with your DBA more clearly and understand why so many decisions are potentially a lot more critical than they may have seemed.

So, what’s my idea? Well, these people had written to me specifically about SQLskills courses and when the next live courses were going to run. So, part of this stems from a series of online courses – some live, some recorded, some are free, some are paid.

What are the pieces?

SQLskills Insider Sessions (FREE)

SQLskills Insider Sessions: starting on Wednesday, October 6 – SQLskills will be helping you to stay fresh and focused and keep learning with free online live sessions. Our thought is that it can be great to create a dedicated and regularly scheduled “block” of time for learning a particular thing.

So, dedicate a two-hour chunk, EVERY Wednesday for “improving your SQLskills” and we will help fill it with content! Whether you attend one or all of our FREE SQLskills Insider Sessions, you should still consider some regularly blocked time for YOUR learning and YOUR career.

As for our SQLskills Insider Sessions, we’re going to run different topics or a theme for a few weeks and then we’re going to follow them up with an open Q&A. These LIVE, interactive sessions are completely FREE and will always happen at the same time – beginning at 10:00am Pacific Time – on Wednesdays. The only requirement – you need to be a SQLskills Insider. (That just means you get our bi-weekly newsletter packed with even more free content each time!)

Become a SQLskills Insider here.

PASS Data Community Summit (FREE Conference / Optional PAID Workshops)

In addition to our SQLskills Insider Sessions, you should be attending the FREE online conference: PASS Data Community Summit. The free conference runs for three days Wednesday-Friday, November 10-12 with two optional days of workshops available for a fee. SQLskills has two workshops running:

Monday, November 8: Solving Query Performance Problems with Statistics with me (twitter)

Tuesday, November 9: Finding Problems and Stabilizing Performance with Query Store with Erin Stellato (twitter | blog)

And, there are MANY other great workshops to consider! Here’s the complete list of all 16 workshops. And, recently a few WIT speakers (Women in Tech) were interviewed by long-standing WIT influencers: Kathi Kellenberger and Mala Mahadevan and posted here to PASStv on YouTube. These interviews might help you get more information about the sessions in which you’re interested.

The conference is free and workshops are $200 each.

In addition to these free events, you might want to consider longer / more structured training. The way I think about it in general:

Conferences are about breadth – learn all sorts of topics and get greater insight into where you want to spend more time learning. They can give you a lot of tips and tricks but 60-90 minutes isn’t going to explain all aspects of a feature. Don’t misunderstand – conferences are fantastic! And, they’re a wonderful piece of the puzzle but the time limit is what restricts the ability to get into phenomenal depth. But, that’s also the benefit – learn enough to answer critical questions such as:

  • Is this something we want to learn more about?
  • Does this do what we thought it would for our project?
  • How does this fit into our project?

These same points also apply to user group sessions as well as online sessions like our SQLskills Insider Sessions (although some might be multiple parts to allow more depth).

Workshops are (usually) about depth (but usually focused on one specific feature / topic / strategy, etc.). because they’re limited to only one day. A workshop might be enough to get your problem solved. A workshop might give you the tips and tricks – along with background / foundation so that you can solve more problems than intended. And, it’s only one day of time.

Courses are more comprehensive with many modules over multiple days and with content that often builds in complexity or puts together a series of tasks to accomplish something. We call our courses “Immersion Events” as they are deep, focused, training courses; they immerse you into the right topics with depth in internals so that you can really understand WHY something works the way it does!

For example, we have courses focused on:


IEAzure looks at Azure SQL Database, Azure VMs, and Azure Managed Instance and when each are appropriate, etc.

Performance Tuning

  • IEPTO1 is about creating an effective database foundation: optimal data/log/tempdb, logging/recovery, locking, indexing, statistics
  • IEPTO2 is about troubleshooting and problem solving for existing systems, using the right tool for the job, and understanding what they tell you (wait statistics, extended events, DMVs, etc.)

And so much more! You can see our full line-up of courses here.

However, what brings everything together are our learning paths that pull content from our courses, additional events, and our Pluralsight courses as well. You can see our full line-up of Pluralsight courses here.

A Self-paced Plan for the Fall

So, what did I recommend to the people that emailed me – looking for LIVE courses? I told them that the Fall can be used for self-paced learning and then they can come back in the Spring to continue with LIVE courses.

And, if you need a “plan” or a schedule to give you management… create one!

Using the same format as our online courses, set dates for learning / reviewing content. Then, set additional goals to ensure your understanding of the courses.

For example, what I’ve been recommending to a lot of people are the three courses in our Jumpstart program (online here):

  1. IE0: Immersion Event for the Accidental and Junior DBA (32:18:59)
    • This should be reviewed in 8 “half-day” chunks
  2. IETLB: Immersion Event on Transactions, Locking, Blocking, Isolation, and Versioning (13:15:55)
    • This should be reviewed in 3 “half-day” chunks
  3. IEQuery: Immersion Event on Fixing Slow Queries, Inefficient Code, and Caching/Statistics Problems (11:15:02)
    • This should be reviewed in 3 “half-day” chunks

Combining that with our SQLskills Insider Sessions and the FREE PASS Data Community Summit and you’ll have an amazing jumpstart on back-end database optimization to speak with your DBAs more confidently or even consider a more system / back-end focused career!


  • Wednesday, October 6 – SQLskills Insider Session (10am PT)
  • Monday / Tuesday – October 11 and 12 – take days 1 and 2 of IE0 (at whatever time works best for you)
  • Wednesday, October 13 – SQLskills Insider Session (10am PT)
  • Monday / Tuesday – October 18 and 19 – take days 3 and 4 of IE0
  • Wednesday, October 20 – SQLskills Insider Session (10am PT)
  • Monday / Tuesday – October 25 and 26 – take days 5 and 6 of IE0
  • Wednesday, October 27 – SQLskills Insider Session (10am PT)
  • Monday / Tuesday – November 1 and 2 – take days 7 and 8 of IE0
  • Wednesday, November 3 – SQLskills Insider Session (10am PT)
  • Monday – Friday – November 8-12: PASS Data Community Summit (no SQLskills Insider Session this week)

Now, you will have completed IE0, learned a bunch at our Insider Sessions, attended a great community conference and you might have a much larger list of topics to continue learning and moving forward.

Create a schedule for the remaining two Jumpstart courses: IETLB (transactions, locking and blocking) and IEQuery and all of the other topics that have been added to your list after having attended our sessions and the community summit.

You’ll be well on your way to improving your SQL skills, working on more effective code, and forwarding your career.

I hope this helps and I hope to see you at one or more of these events!

Thanks for reading,

Here's our first SQLskills Insider Session: Statement Execution and Caching!

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