Frustrated Oracle enthusiast

My goal is to pursue a career as an Oracle DBA and then to progress towards an Oracle developer's position. I understand there is a shortage of Oracle DBAs and developers. However I can't understand why there is a lack of trainee Oracle DBA positions advertised.

Dear Career Adviser,

I am 31, with a background in the property industry (valuer/property manager).

I have a Bachelor of Business Studies and I have only one paper to complete a graduate diploma in MIS at Auckland University.

My goal is to pursue a career as an Oracle DBA and then to progress towards an Oracle developer's position. I understand there is a shortage of Oracle DBAs and developers both here in New Zealand and overseas. However I can't understand why there is a lack of trainee Oracle DBA positions advertised.

To add to the frustration, for the first time this year students who take 636.330 - "Advanced Database" at Auckland University - are given practical training in Oracle 8i (thanks to Oracle). The students now possess the basic DBA skills which the market desperately requires. I know I have the basic skills and I know there is a demand for them in the market. Nothing seems to be obvious at this stage for graduates, only those with two to three years' experience.

Am I taking too many steps towards my goal? Should I consider other work to help me towards achieving this goal? What type of position should I be shooting for? Can you offer any other advice to assist me in getting my foot in the door?

Go hard

Protocol Personnel replies: We hear what you are saying and unfortunately the problem you face is one that graduates have faced for over a decade now. With the lack of apprenticeship-style schemes in the marketplace it often means that people like yourself end up taking positions that they have not trained for in the hope of securing work in their desired field at some point in the future.

Words of warning: it can be dangerous to go for a position you are not keen on and to blatantly use it as a stepping stone. While no "realistic" employer will expect employees to remain in a role indefinitely, the last thing they want to feel is that they employed someone who is not 110% committed to the job at hand.

So it has to be something that at least interests you. If you do choose to take a different type of role as an entry mechanism, be sure to commit fully to that company. Ideally, look for an entry role in a company that has a need for Oracle DBAs somewhere in the organisation. That way you can work hard and express interest internally to move into that area at some future date. This is common in the industry and is the reality many graduates face.

The other method is to personally contact every company (that you would like to work for and that uses Oracle) and talk to the HR manager or recruiter. Don't underestimate the smaller employer either.

Be mindful that you will be considered a graduate despite your previous work history and age, so your starting salary may be lower than you expect. Don't focus on the dollars too much, focus on the experience a role can provide. As you gain more experience the financial rewards will increase.

Finally, if all else fails you may want to consider looking internationally. New Zealand has a very small market and countries like the UK and even Australia offer a greater number of opportunities. A word of caution though - the grass is not always greener on the other side.

Readers with career questions can have them answered in this column by IT recruitment specialists. Send questions via Computerworld journalist, Darren Greenwood, with "Dear Adviser" in the subject line.

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