A New Turn in Ember’s Career

I’ve struggled to write this blog entry to appropriately convey all aspects of what I want to say. This is my third attempt, and I finally think it does things justice.

As part of my publicly shared data science journey, I’ve continued to read job postings, even while reasonably satisfied with my current job. Last fall, one grabbed me by the nose and I couldn’t help but apply. To my surprise, the job that grabbed my attention was for a database performance expert for a smaller RDBMS vendor. It had nothing to do with data science or broader data engineering. The application process was, as it is for many jobs these days, long and complicated. As I went through the process and came to see it as more of a real possibility, I started to look and see what else was out there. I hate to make large decisions like this in a vacuum.

There were several turns and twists in my job search process. I applied to more than 20 positions. 7 rejected me automatically. 7 more I never heard another word from after applying. One acquaintance encouraged me to look at the openings his company had, and one of them was a technical writer position. This lead me to apply for a number of positions in this space – a direction I had not considered for my career. The idea of turning the unpaid labor of love that this blog has been into my day job intrigued me. I ultimately ended up with three different offers, and withdrawing from one interview process I think might have led to an offer. Half of my “final 4” were technical writing jobs. While my experience and connections make job hunting relatively pain free for me, I had failures, too. I have no doubt that I could have had another Db2 DBA job with just a few calls. I explored a number of jobs where I was rejected after the initial screening for a variety of reasons, including the one where my acquaintance gave me the idea to explore technical writing. Some of those were also due to the differential in salary between engineering work and technical writing. If a company didn’t see the technical value that I bring – if they didn’t consider this blog – then they weren’t willing to pay enough.

I am ridiculously excited to announce I will be joining Shopify as a Staff Production Engineer on April 18! The recruiting experience with Shopify was a step above the recruiting experiences with every other company, including one of the very large tech companies. The part that my readers may find shocking about this is that I will no longer be working with IBM Db2 in my day job.

Over the last 20 years, I have built an incredibly deep expertise with Db2. I made a conscious decision to develop deep skills in one RDBMS years ago, and it was the right decision. I don’t claim to know everything about Db2. In fact I have a very realistic idea of where I lack knowledge in the Db2 ecosystem. I don’t regret the decision to dive so deeply into a single RDBMS, but for the last few years, it’s left me feeling a little trapped. It is very difficult to move from one RDBMS to another and stay at a senior level.

Db2 is my first love, and I still believe it is a technically excellent product. I don’t rule out returning to it someday. As my job search went on, I realized that I wasn’t ready to leave the relational database behind, even if it was for my second love – technical writing. The role I’m stepping in to will allow me to take the deep database skills I’ve developed and use them to learn a different RDBMS – MySQL. I, of all people, have some idea of how difficult this is going to be. I won’t suddenly gain the equivalent to 20 years of varied database knowledge through a few edX classes. In the bits of investigation I’ve done so far on MySQL, I’m intrigued. I see things like the different ways clustering indexes are handled and where you can specify coalition sequences and I want to know more. I’m excited to dig into how you dig into the deep problems in an open source database and how that differs from a proprietary platform.

I’m not leaving the Db2 community. I’ll continue to participate as an IBM Champion through at least the end of the year, and still plan to present at IDUG in Boston in July. I haven’t decided if I’ll attempt to go to IDUG EMEA in Edinburgh in the fall. Participation then and after this year may depend on if IDUG will accept topics like “MySQL for Db2 DBAs”. I need to focus my personal development time in that direction. I’ll also be looking for what conferences I should be aware of related to MySQL. I’ll still be on Twitter and the Db2 Discord, and will be participating in conversations on LinkedIn. I expect to blog extensively on MySQL for Db2 DBAs, and will continue to work with guest bloggers to publish articles about Db2. No matter what I’m doing, I’ll still be writing and sharing what I learn.

I have a huge appetite for learning for my new position, but have managed a bit of time off between jobs. I’m trying not to dig into technical learning during that time so I can get a real break. The new job also pays significantly more, which I didn’t think would happen at this scale at this point in my career. Things are generally just so amazing that I feel like I’ve won the lottery!

Ember Crooks
Ember Crooks

Ember is always curious and thrives on change. She has built internationally recognized expertise in IBM Db2, spent a year working with high-volume MySQL, and is now learning Snowflake. Ember shares both posts about her core skill sets and her journey learning Snowflake.

Ember lives in Denver and work from home

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  1. Shopify is a great company. It is Canadian how can it not be :-). I am sure you will love it there. Congrats!

  2. Ember,
    Congratulations on your new career. You will do great at whatever you choose. Thank you for all the years you supported so many users and our Db2 user groups.

  3. Sounds like a terrific opportunity Ember; your blogs have always had zing as well as technical expertise so this is going to be a great fit. I and, I’m sure, all the DB2 community hope you stay in touch. Good luck with it

  4. Best of Luck Ember, i know you will do great there as well.
    I am very much agree to this note and believe me this is happening with lots for senior people, they are feeling trapped and changing their area. Actually it’s a demand of new technical era.


  5. Ember,

    I always enjoyed your upbeat and refreshing perspective on technology, on people, and on life.

    Best of Luck.

  6. Congratulations on making a big jump in your career. We all need to explore different parts of our industry. I would love to hear what you have learned and will learn from MySQL. Its strengths and weaknesses, compared to Db2, and naturally, how Db2 should transform. Db2 is a great product, but it’s not perfect, and I intend to improve it.

  7. Congratulation Ember. All the best for your future. I love reading your blogs and learned a lot from it.

  8. Thousands of tech folks have read Ember’s contributions through the years. Always insightful, always helpful in expanding their own knowledge of DB2. Allow me to thank her on behalf of all of her silent followers. Her documents and comments have had a large impact on developing and planning my company’s software. No doubt MySQL will become a better solution as well now that her focus is shifting there. Best wishes Ember!

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