October 4th of this month was my seven year anniversary as an employee of Pragmatic Works. Things have changed a lot over the past seven years. Working with the wonderful people at Pragmatic Works has been quite an amazing journey and incredible opportunity. With that in mind I thought that I should share my story of how I ended up working in the business intelligence field with the great team at Pragmatic Works.
In mid 2008 I was working my way through college loading trucks at UPS. I don’t mean the little trucks that deliver to your house but the big, honking 50+ foot trailers. I was an area supervisor and had been with UPS for six years. UPS was a tough job with little thanks or support from management and I was looking for any opportunity in another job or career. It was that bad.
One day my wife, Angela, and I were hanging out with some good friends of ours, Devin and Erin Knight. We were over at the Knight house enjoying some good company when Devin asked if I wanted to do SQL. Devin pulled out his laptop and fired up SQL Server Management Studio and showed me a few select statements. He explained the concept of a database to me and how the data was stored in tables but that we could write queries against the tables to retrieve the data.
I was very intrigued because I’ve always enjoyed working with computers. My experience with computers up to this point was limited to designing web pages with Adobe Dreamweaver and building armies in Age of Empires but I always thought I’d enjoy working with computers. I just thought that web design and graphics would be the career I would choose since it allowed me to combine my love of art and computers into one job. Devin was just starting out in his career as a SQL Server developer but I knew he was enjoying it and since I was hating life as a minion of the UPS-machine I was definitely excited about this opportunity.
Devin explained to me how his brother, Brian Knight, was starting this training program where students would learn about SQL Server and SQL Server Reporting Services in hopes that we could then find work as a SQL Server developer. It was one of Brian’s ways of giving back to the community. The training would take place over a week or so.
Inside my head I was thinking, “Man, this sounds awesome! Anything other than UPS is a win in my book but this sounds amazing!” but I made sure to play it cool. “It sounds interesting,” I told Devin, slowly nodding my head.
Devin put me in touch with Brian, who I’d met a few times before as a friend of Devin, and we scheduled the training to begin after I finished my very early shift at UPS. The sunrise shift at UPS ended at about 9:00 AM so I would head home directly after my shift was over, clean up and drive out to Green Cove Springs, FL where the Pragmatic Works office was located. There I would begin learning as much as I could about SQL Server.
In those early days of Pragmatic Works the offices were very small, unpleasantly located in a small strip mall next to a hair salon and a dog groomer. The space we used was one small room that couldn’t have been much more than 500 square feet in size with a small closet and even smaller bathroo