Something Weird Happened: I Love My Job Again

By Kendra Little on March 26, 2024

Back in my 20’s, I was lucky enough to go to graduate school. I had a work-study job in the Dean’s office where I got to develop and administer their Access databases, which helped me get by.

One day, the Dean said to me: “Kendra, when you talk about your work on our databases, you light up. When you talk about your coursework, that doesn’t happen. Have you thought about that?”

That observation changed my life.

I finished up my Master’s degree and left graduate school. I got my first job in tech. I couldn’t land a job specializing in databases right away, but I kept getting more and more database experience and I eventually landed a job working with SQL Server full time.

I loved it.

Eventually, I decided to try other things

After working with databases for more than ten years, I felt like I should try new things. Not completely unrelated things— I still was very interested in database performance and software development– but I wanted to explore a bit.

I tried my hand at being a Developer Advocate, then a Product Manager.

I worked as a Content Developer, then as a Technical Product Manager for a Data Platform team.

I was good at these roles, and I learned a ton. As a TPM I worked with a terrific team who taught me a ton about Data Platforms and Data Science, which was fascinating. But for various reasons, I ended up leaving that role and spending a few months thinking about what I wanted to do next. It was tough to find an answer.

Six months ago, I saw a job listing for a Database Reliability Engineer at Dutchie that looked… well it looked amazing. It was a performance tuning role using PAAS databases in the cloud, focusing on SQL Server but with opportunities to also work with Postgres, which I’ve wanted to work with for a while.

I got lucky and landed the job.

I ended up working last Sunday

When you do production work with a 24 hour online system, you end up working occasional nights or weekends. (Automation and careful system design can lessen this a lot, but sometimes it’s just easier and faster to do something at a low volume time. And I could take Monday off.)

At one point on Sunday, my partner looked in my doorway and smiled. I don’t know what I was doing, probably laughing at the query optimizer’s choices. I had no idea it would sometimes use a key lookup in an index creation statement.

“You’re SO happy,” he said. “I love that you’re so happy now.”

Yeah, I was happy working on a weekend. Working with relational databases is what lights me up, after all these years.

I am still that kid learning the lesson that there’s something about databases which my brain can’t get enough of.