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The Non-Technical Art of Being a Successful DBA – Obtaining the Most Benefit From Oracle Training

Article by Rampant author Chris Foot

I've been involved in some form of Oracle Education for close to twenty years now. I started my career in Oracle Education working as a courseware creator and "instructor to the instructors" for Platinum Technologies. At Platinum, I was responsible for creating their entire Oracle curriculum including classes on general administration, backup/recovery, database tuning and several SQL and PL/SQL courses.

I was also employed as an Oracle Certified Instructor for a number of years. The greatest accomplishment in my career came was when I was awarded the OAEC Quality Achievement Award. These awards are given to the top instructors in the OAEC (Oracle Authorized Education Center) program. That recognition was quickly followed by Oracle allowing me to certify a few of my fellow instructors. Certifying my fellow instructors was a responsibility I took very seriously.

Oracle Classroom Education
When is the best time to take the classes?

This may sound trite, but it is best to follow Oracle's recommendations on the sequence of classes. Take the intro classes before taking the more advanced classes. If you have the luxury (meaning you aren't the only DBA in your shop), gain some day-to-day experience before taking the more advanced classes (SQL or database tuning, backup and recovery, etc.). You shouldn't be asking questions like "What is an init.ora parameter file, anyway?" in a tuning or backup and recovery class. Instructors don't have the time and your fellow students won't have the patience to bring you up to speed before continuing on to more advanced topics.

Preparation
Being prepared is the single most important factor to obtain the most benefit from any formal training class. I can't stress this highly enough - PREPARATION IS THE KEY TO SUCCESS.

It's a pretty simple process to prepare for class. Oracle Education's Website will provide you with all of the information you need to prepare for your upcoming class.

Step one is to read the information provided by the Oracle Corporation that pertains to the class you are attending. Oracle Education's website provides a detailed description of each class it offers. It will tell you EXACTLY what to prepare for. Go to the Course Curriculum page on Oracle Education's website, find the course you are attending, navigate to the course description page and then click on "Course Objectives" and "Course Topics". You will find a detailed listing of all of the topics the course will cover.

If you are a new Oracle DBA and will be attending your first database administration class, read the Oracle Concepts Manual, Administrator's Guide and review the Reference and SQL Reference books. Follow this same advice for whatever class you are taking. If it's a new features class, read the new features guide for that release. Tuning and performance - read the Performance Tuning Guide. Same thing for backup and recovery, standby, RAC, etc.. Do yourself a favor and perform some self-education first. You may not know the mechanics, but you'll be ahead of the game if you know the lingo and the concepts used.

Showing Enthusiasm and Willingness to Learn
If an instructor sees that you are making an extra effort to overcome your lack of day-to-day experience by coming in early, staying late and being prepared, they will be more prone to help you.

Instructors are weird; we like to see people excited about what we are teaching. Seeing someone enthused about learning makes us want to make sure they get the most out of class.

Class Participation
Class participation means more than just answering questions that are asked. You also need to ask questions. If you still don't understand, ask again. If you are having a hard time understanding a particular concept, ask the instructor during a break to explain the information to you again.

If you are experienced in Oracle and you have a lab partner that isn't as well versed in Oracle as you are, take the time and help them. Don't take control of the keyboard and blast through the labs. Be patient with them, show them the little tricks of the trade you picked up and help them along. You'll probably have their undying gratitude and you'll be contributing to the health and welfare of our profession.

If you are an Oracle expert taking one of the more advanced classes, don't let your ego get in the way of you obtaining the utmost benefit from the class you are taking - ask questions and get involved!

Familiarize Yourself with the Next Day's Material
I know this can be hard to do. Especially if you are attending class in a place you've never been to before. It's a tough decision between sightseeing in San Francisco or planting your nose in an Oracle Admin I class guide. You'll need to make some compromises here. Go out for a few hours, come in early and prepare for the next day's class.

The Importance of Becoming Certified
Becoming certified is an essential ingredient for all Oracle technicians who want to prosper in their chosen profession. Certifications are especially important to those seeking employment in a field that often has many candidates competing for a single position. An Oracle certification shows the potential employer that the candidate has made the commitment to "learn their trade" and has the background and education to quickly become a productive member of their staff.

The Oracle Certification also gives a distinct advantage to DBAs looking to advance in their careers. Being an Oracle Certified Professional raises their visibility in the organization, which is a requirement for career advancement in most shops.

Preparing for the Oracle Certified Professional Exams
The best time to take the exam is a week or two after taking the Oracle class that the exam pertains to. Passing the OCP test is much easier when the information is fresh. The class workbook should be used as the primary study guide. I have passed every exam I have taken by studying only the information contained in the class workbooks.

The Oracle Education website allows students to purchase practice exam tests. Free sample questions are also available. Practice tests will provide you with a firm understanding of the areas you are strong in as well as the areas where you need to shore up your knowledge. Oracle University has chosen two partners (Self Test Software and Transcender) to provide authorized Oracle Certified Practice Exams.

I am fully aware that there are many competing websites that offer Oracle Certification practice tests. If you want to prepare for an Oracle Exam by purchasing a practice test, why not purchase the test from the vendors that Oracle has chosen to partner with?

Self Test Software and Transcender practice tests provide a thorough coverage of the Oracle certification requirements and use the same test question technology as the real exams including simulations, scenarios, hot spots and case studies. This makes the choice clear - go with the Oracle partner practice exams.

The Day of Your Test
Oracle partners with Prometric Testing Centers to provide testing centers throughout the United States. The Prometric Testing Center website provides a test center locator to help you find testing centers in your area.

The following hints and tips will prepare you for the day you take your certification tests:

·         You must have two forms of identification, both containing your signature. One must be a government issued photo identification.

·         Try to show up early (at least 15 minutes) before your scheduled exam. If you show up late, the testing center coordinator has the option of canceling your exam and asking you to reschedule your test.

·         You cannot bring any notes or scratch paper to the testing center. Paper will be provided by the testing center and will be destroyed when you leave.

·         Testing center personnel will provide you with a brief overview of the testing process. The computer will have a demo that will show you how to answer and review test questions.

·         Don't leave any questions unanswered. All test questions left unanswered will be marked as incorrect.

·         Your exam score is provided to you immediately and the exam results are forwarded to Oracle Certification Program management. Make sure you keep a copy of your test results for your records.

·         If you fail a test, you must wait at least 14 days before retaking it (except for exam #1Z0-007 Introduction to Oracle9i: SQL).

·         Don't let your ego prevent you from studying. I have seen numerous experienced DBAs receive "less than stellar" test scores because they thought they knew the material they were being tested on.

 

 

   

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