The intern approached his mentor and said "You have taught me a lot in the past few months. I am more prepared now when it comes to supporting the developers, database/application performance management, making database changes, backup and recovery, and more. But surely there is more to learn?"
Impressed, his mentor shook his head and said "You are securely on the path to becoming a good DBA. Knowing what one does not know is as important as knowing what one does know!"
He continued... "With that in mind, remember the Tao and the wise words of Lao Tzu, who said 'To know, yet to think that one does not know is best; not to know, yet to think that one knows will lead to difficulty.' "
Just then a developer came into their cubicle with his hair on fire shouting about not being able to access the test databases. "Oh, I’ve seen this problem before," said the intern. " All I have to do is start the database like before and…”
“To a hammer all problems look like nails,” snapped his mentor. "Learn this lesson well! Do not rush to a solution, even when things may seem to be obvious. Take your time, learn all there is to know about the issue, and only then respond. Though you should rely on your past experience, do not force fit that experience to every problem."
"Hmmm..." said the intern, as he displayed the status of the test database to see find a table space that was in copy pending status. "It might be better to back that up than to just force start it."
"Yes,' sighed the mentor contentedly. "Every day is an opportunity to learn something new. Patience is always a virtue and humility is a quality that all DBAs would do well to exhibit."
And then the phone rang. The intern picked it up and listened as the person on the other end started to explain a WebSphere issue. His mentor listened intently to the intern and picked up on it not being a DB2 problem. Just as the intern was about to balk at helping his mentor stopped him and politely told the person on the phone to hold on for just a moment.
"But that is a WebSphere problem, not a database issue. Surely that is not my job?" balked the intern.
The mentor clucked and explained to his protege "When you say it is not your job, soon it will not be your job."
The lesson here is that a good DBA must be a jack-of-all-trades. Expanding your knowledge and sphere of influence is always good. The more you know, the stronger you will become at your job and the more employable you will be in the long run.
"I feel like I have to know everything," complained the intern.
"Someone has to," laughed the Taoist DBA.
The job of database administration is complex and you cannot know everything. Learn as much as possible and always be willing to take on new challenges and learn from others. Understanding who is the expert in each technology at your company will help you to tackle problems in your own management discipline. Network with other DBAs, system programmers, developers, web masters, network administrators, and so on... both within your company and externally.