John Day | 15 April 2013

If you mentioned Microsoft Access to me 20 years ago I would have fainted just hearing the name. Not today!

Many years before I joined QA I worked for a credit control company as a database administrator (this is back in 1989) and their primary software was a product called Symantec Q&A which was a "flat-file" database tool. That was my whole experience with databases and I really enjoyed it. In fact my first experience in training was to show a group of staff from Miss Selfridge how to use the database I built which made me realise which career route I wanted and pursued a training career. 

So I joined a particular training company in 1993 (the name has been removed to protect the guilty) based in Russell Square in London where my product range included Microsoft Word , Excel , PowerPoint , plus Lotus 1-2-3, Freelance Graphics, etc. Now, I would not exactly say this training company had no decorum but let us just say they had new or young instructors wearing a name badge that read "Trainee Trainer". I ask you, would you be happy paying a lot of money for a course to find you had a Trainee Trainer delivering it? Imagine meeting a driving instructor wearing a badge reading "I haven't passed my test yet!" or a swimming instructor still wearing armbands. 

So, I was asked by my training company if I wanted to pick up and deliver Microsoft Access training. "Sure" I said.  "Is it complicated?"  "Well you have database background so you should have no problem." They kindly asked a lady instructor friend of theirs to travel down to London from Birmingham to sit with me for a day to learn a 2 day course - Now that should ring bells straight away. But what do I know?  I'm a "trainee trainer".  So the lady turns up - about 10am, shows me 1 table with 4 fields, 1 query, 1 form and 1 report in that day and leave about 3pm.  "Oh this is easy peasy stuff" I thought.  

My first delivery of Microsoft Access was to deliver the 2nd day of a 2-day Introduction course using the database the trainer created on day 1, which of course I had never seen until that morning. I walked into the classroom, opened the database to find 5 tables and about 8 queries. I did not even look to see the relationships because I had no idea that concept existed. You see, my 1 day of learning did not even mention "relational databases", "relationships"," joins" etc.  I did not even see an example of a single Primary key let alone a foreign one. 

I spent over an hour trying to work out what was in this database someone else built. As the delegates walked in I felt sweat trickling down my face. At 9:30 am I walked out to reception, asked for the managing director… and then collapsed in the waiting area. "Did you not read the book at all John?" Of course, but (a) relationships (not relational databases) was mentioned in one paragraph in the whole book, and (b) if reading a book is all it takes to "deliver" a course why on earth would anyone pay money to sit in a classroom? Yes my budding Access friends, the book was "pants" and the whole experience of any trainer to prepare for delivering a course was to "read the book".  Because you are a trainer, you can pick it up quicker. NO, because you are a trainer, you are employed because you are trained to communicate the information to others in a clear and productive way. We need just as much time if not more to learn the content as any other person. As you can imagine this experience put the fear into me ever to use Microsoft Access again. The whole experience killed my confidence a great deal.  

When I joined QA (through the channels of the company "Interquad") I was given a whole different experience on how to study and prepare for new content. QA gave me a whole fresh new look at Microsoft Access  that drove me towards the MCDBA accreditation and now I even show ER models (Entity Relationship models) in my Access courses which graphically explains relationships with such ease. I am so proud of our team of instructors who are always willing to share knowledge and tips and tricks with each other.  

Here at QA when you learn a product, not only do you have to know the course inside out, you are encouraged to get experience using the product before you ever deliver it. Since then I have delivered database courses with Microsoft Access, Visual FoxPro. I have designed and deployed database in the same formats for clients and for personal use including code such as VBA. When I deliver Access courses I demonstrate a solution I built that controlled all administration to my job including expenses, planning ahead for my events, automating all work administration, even printed evals and envelopes. I have built databases for numerous clients such as Global Knowledge, MoD, Severn Trent Water, National Grid to name but a few. 

My 15 years at QA have taught me a lot about how to prepare yourself for studying any new courses and software and the fact that support is always there for me and there is enough wisdom in this company to make sure that I am learning in the right manner with the right time provided. This whole experience has lead me down the path to Microsoft SharePoint where I am today and loving every minute of my job.  

To this day I still have the course manual and the Access database file from that experience as a reminder of where I was back then, and how far QA have guided me to the present day.  

Thank you QA!

QA Training | John Day

John Day

Office Applications Principal Technologist - SharePoint

John has worked in the IT training for 26 years, 17 of which have been with QA. Through this time John has gained “in-the-field” experience with database administration, VB and VBA programming and development, and web design. With 8 years of SharePoint administration experience, John heads the Microsoft SharePoint curriculum, where he authors QA’s SharePoint and InfoPath courses for business professionals. John also supports the SharePoint training team and reviews the latest technologies associated with SharePoint.
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