I’m a senior data engineer. I’ve used SQL in a commercial environment since 2018. But I’ve recently felt the urge to revisit my roots. Why???
Data engineering is not for the faint-hearted. It’s not uncommon to hear engineers having to constantly jump from one urgent task to another, and finding themselves in “firefighting” mode. This rush pushes us to learn new tools that could sometimes come at the expense of foundational skills like SQL, especially in my case.
In my case, I focused more on Spark and Python over the past couple of years as my responsibilities grew, and therefore less on the foundational SQL
How did you go about re-learning SQL?🤔💭
There’s a challenge called the #30DaysOfSQL challenge, where software engineers code with SQL for 30 days straight by engaging in projects, online tests and other practical means available.
I wanted to put a spin on this and condense this into 10 days instead. Here’s the TLDR of why:
To re-learn the basics of SQL fast
to solidify my existing knowledge of SQL fundamentals
this is more fun and manageable for my current bandwidth than #30DaysOfSQL
This forces me to consistently learn SQL for 10 days straight in an engaging and easy-to-manage approach without overwhelming myself with too much too soon.
a. How did you find it?
Going back to basics was something I’ve been doing for a while now:
My first approach was to read through a textbook called “SQL Queries for Mere Mortals”. I read from the beginning, extracted some of the concepts that would relate to some of the activities I’m engaging in my projects and then wrote what I could on it.
Taking on the #10DaysOfSQL challenge was now my second approach to getting back to basics. This was fun because of the challenge of learning (or re-learning) something new every single day for 10 days straight.
It felt like a video game that I needed to complete, otherwise, the proverbial monster would attack and defeat my character. Turning the experience into a personal game keeps the fun in picking up challenges that others would find a chore.
b. What resources did you use for undertaking this challenge?
Here’s a rough breakdown of all the tools I used during this challenge:
My old notes and programming scripts (30%)
Online articles (15%)
ChatGPT (AI chatbots)(5%)
c. What surprised you during the challenge?
How much I missed crafting pure SQL queries. As I said before, I’ve been doing this for some time, but doing it without thinking too much about the weight of the deadlines corporate projects bring was exciting to me during this.
This brought home how irreplaceable SQL is in managing data and as a result, rekindled my admiration for it once again!
Next steps for me📝
My key objective is to maintain the consistency this challenge brought me. The easiest way I’ve personally found is to gamify the process.
Here's something I've come to realize💡: If you're finding learning boring or unexciting, you're probably doing it wrong.
Accumulating knowledge should be driven by your desire and not as a chore. Kids have mastered this concept far better than adults have in my opinion.
You’ll accelerate your speed of learning and find any challenging concept fun to pick up if you approach them in a childlike manner by figuring out how to merge your imagination into the experience. I tend to do this by
relating the concepts to simple real-world analogies around my everyday life
drawing visual representations of the concepts I come across in a format that makes sense to me
create projects that utilize these concepts
I’m still learning how to approach each of these myself and I’m also exploring other approaches too, but this is what has worked for me so far.
My recommendations for you🎁
If you don’t know anything about SQL and you want to get started immediately, start here:
If you are
looking to learn SQL as a beginner
looking to solidify your existing SQL knowledge
Quick tips for success☄️
Choose a dataset you find interesting 🛰️- I chose celestial objects in space because I love astronomy
Commit to 5-10 mins a day ⏲️- Start small and grow each day once you’re comfortable with your new routine
Let your curiosity guide you💫
The #10DaysOfSQL challenge was more than a simple refresher - it was a connection with my programming roots i.e. what got me started on my data engineering journey in the first place, and I’m glad the inspiration within me steered me to taking it on.
Explore each day of my journey with SQL for the #10DaysOfSQL challenge here⬇️:
There’s power in consistent practice - engage in the process and witness for yourself. Need advice or have thoughts to share? I’m just a message away: