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I Took the SQL Basics Course... Here's What Happened!

In this article, I will share my personal story with you. But don't worry – it's not about a scandal or a sad story of failure. I'll tell you how a successful news journalist fell in love with SQL. It all started when I took the SQL Basics course at LearnSQL.com.

There are moments in life that change everything. Mine happened when I decided to give up my long-term career and start a completely new chapter in my professional life.

I was a TV journalist for many years. I worked in the news, where the reaction time was counted in seconds, and everything was already late anyway. The stress and the lack of sleep began to affect my health and private life more and more.

SQL Basics Course... DONE

Source: gifer.com

For me, the next breaking news meant my wife's disappointment that I had to work until late and my own frustration with the dwindling amount of time spent with my son. It had to stop. I made a grown-up’s decision – either news or me!

So, overnight, I quit my well-paid and prestigious job as a TV news editor and ... I started to wonder what to do next.

How Did I Get Into the IT World?

I have to admit that the first days and weeks after quitting my job weren't the best. I traded in the stress of deadlines for the fear of the future. I had my family and a mortgage on my mind. Not a cool moment.

I looked through job postings for hours and even went to a few job interviews. But I couldn't make up my mind. What do I really want to do in my life?

Some employers similar to those I had worked for tempted me with high salaries. I knew that if I started working for them, I would be stuck for a few years, then the situation would just repeat itself. I needed to change the whole game.

Then, I found out that Vertabelo was looking for a new team member. I remember the position description was written a bit differently – somehow more friendly and less corporate. I sent them my resume. As you can guess, they called.

The job interview was also less formal. I met with Kasia, who then was coordinating the marketing department, and Łukasz. If you don't know who he is yet, you can read the interview titled SQL Means Business – The Way of an Engineer.

They started telling me about what they were doing, what my job would be and ... databases. I thought, gosh, they really get excited about databases! They told me about SQL and how a language that had been around in the market for several decades, in the age of data, could support businesses effectively.

Later, Jarek (The Man Behind LearnSQL.com) also joined us. They told me about the SQL courses they offered. It was a black box to me. What in the world is SQL? What could I, a humanities guy with no IT experience, know about query writing?

The situation was so abstract for me. But the people I met at Vertabelo were so nice and friendly that I decided to give it a try. This is how I became a member of the LearnSQL.com team. More than two years have passed since that day, and I have not regretted my decision even for a moment.

How Did I Start Learning SQL?

Once I got to know everyone, had my first coffee in the office, and sent my first introduction email, it suddenly hit me ... that I needed to learn SQL! I was supposed to deal mainly with content marketing, and without my in-depth knowledge of relational databases and SQL language, I wouldn't have survived a week.

I couldn't waste any time. Tried watching video tutorials on YouTube. There was a problem here. Most of the clips were terribly boring and not suitable as an SQL resource for someone like me. After a few minutes of watching, my eyes just started to shut.

SQL Basics Course... DONE

Later, after I got to know more about SQL and knew what to look for, I found a lot of interesting things on YouTube. You can read about them in this article or here.

But at that time, I had to choose something more effective. And do it quickly! I decided that if I am to promote SQL courses later, I have to complete them and check them out for myself.

Turns out that there is no better first step to learning SQL than the SQL Basics course. I am saying this not only as a marketer of LearnSQL.com. I have actually taken other competitor courses as well. You can read about some of them on our blog. But none of them was as good as SQL Basics. You don't have to take my word for it. Try it yourself.

I Took the SQL Basics Course on LearnSQL.com

First, I thought I had to install SQL and some DBMS on my computer. I couldn't do it, so I turned to our development team for help. They told me that you didn’t need to set up or configure anything on your computer or laptop to do the LearnSQL.com courses.

They also told me that the courses were fully interactive, so you would write SQL queries in the console through a web browser. Pretty clever, right? All I had to do was sign up for a free account and start learning. Let me tell you – right away, it was a great experience.

I was afraid that learning SQL would start with something like this:

SQL Basics Course... DONE

Please note that I am not a developer. Back then, for me, writing any code was associated with either a sequence of numbers or movie scenes in which a hacker broke into a secret database of an international corporation. By the way, a while later I wrote an article about how Hollywood sees databases.

Fortunately, the very appearance of the platform was reassuring for me. Everything looked smooth and professional. Calm colors helped me focus on my next tasks. This is how I started learning SQL! Something that a few weeks ago would have been beyond my reach, was now real. With each subsequent exercise, I got to know new things. I felt like an explorer.

SQL Basics Course... DONE

I know that it sounds funny from the perspective of people working in IT every day. I myself now smile at the thought of how I felt back then. I proved to myself that I could achieve anything. I felt stronger and more confident, and the future was starting to look better.

What was I learning?

The SQL Basics course is divided into 8 parts. The first part is an introduction. To be able to write SQL queries, you first need to find out what relational databases, tables, rows, and columns are. In this part, you will find out all of this.

And here is a big plus for LearnSQL. The individual terms are written in simple and understandable language. There is no room for lengthy theories and long scientific definitions.

There are only facts and things that are necessary at this stage of learning. It makes you absorb difficult things very smoothly and move on quickly. A big round of applause for the authors of the course.

The next chapter is about SELECT, or how to extract data from the database. This is where I wrote my first ever SQL query. It looked like this:

SELECT *
FROM user;

Looking at it now, the query is obviously trivial. Today, I can write complicated CTE or correlated subqueries – these, I am not a big fan of. But for me back then, it was something like print ("Hello, world!") in Python. It was a game changer.

If you are interested in learning about SELECT statements, I recommend an excellent article on the topic by my friend Kateryna about How Do You Write a SELECT Statement in SQL?

It was even more fun when WHERE joined SELECT. Now, I could write a real database query and get a specific, filtered result.

I write such SQL queries quite often, for example, when I have to retrieve an article written by a specific author or ones written in a specific month from the database of articles. During the course, I learned things that were seemingly easy but immediately useful in my day-to-day work. I didn't think that the time spent learning SQL would pay off so quickly.

Then it's time for logical operators, SQL text patterns, and learning about NULL. You don't know what NULL is or why it might appear in your table? Read this article.

Honestly, I didn’t always do great for the entire course. The difficulties started while learning the SQL JOIN. This is one of those topics that you need to learn well to be able to say that you know SQL.

What is SQL JOIN for? It allows you to work with more than one table. Most of the queries you will write in your career will include JOIN to some extent. Why? We collect data not from just one place but from many tables and databases; to be able to analyze them, we must compile and combine them. This is where the SQL JOIN comes in handy. For more information, see How to JOIN Tables in SQL and SQL JOIN Tips for Beginners.

Then, it was with great pleasure that I learned about aggregating and grouping data. Now, I was able to write SQL queries containing GROUP BY, HAVING, and ORDER BY. At this point, after just a few days of learning, I was able to write a simple SQL report. Can you imagine that?

I got to know SQL subqueries later. Here, too, I had to put a bit of effort into it, because it is one of the more difficult topics in the entire course. But if I could learn it, you can, too.

Next, you'll learn about SQL set operations. You will find out what UNION and UNION ALL are, when to use INTERSECT, and why it is sometimes useful to have an EXCEPT in a query. You can find more about those here.

Finally, you will have to solve a quiz containing tasks from each chapter. You can test your knowledge here.

When learning and writing queries in exercises, you can ask the support for help or ask for a small hint if you have a problem with a specific task. During the final test, however, you will only depend on your own skills.

After completing the quiz and the entire course, you get a very cool thing - a certificate that you can attach to your profile on LinkedIn or show your boss when you ask for a raise. My certificate for completing the SQL Basics course was my first IT certificate, and I am very proud of it.

SQL Basics Course... DONE

If you are wondering how I managed to learn SQL while working full-time and taking care of my son, here are some of my tips – read this article. Learn from the mistakes of others. Check out the 5 Reasons You Might Fail to Learn SQL.

I Was Hungry for More SQL!

Learning SQL has been one of the best things in my professional career. Thanks to this, I can now write about SQL and advise others on the topic. Of course, my development didn't end with SQL Basics. I was hungry for more. Later, I finished the subsequent courses very quickly, and finally, I managed to complete all that LearnSQL.com had to offer. Yes, even window functions and recursive queries.

I now know SQL and use it in my work daily. I'll give you an example. When I was compiling a list of the most popular blog articles at the end of last year, I used the following SQL query to find them (my friend Agnieszka helped me a bit):

with author_visits as (
  select
   a.author,
   a.url, gg.visit
  from a
  join gg on a.url = gg.url
),
max_visits as (
  select
   author,
   max(visit) max_visits
  from author_visits
  group by author
)
select
 av.author,
 av.url, visit
from author_visits av
join max_visits mv
on av.author = mv.author
where av.visit = mv.max_visits
and av.author != 'vertabelo';

Can SQL be useful for you?

If you work in marketing like I do, you definitely deal with Google Analytics. Did you know SQL can help you prepare even more accurate reports? The same goes for Google Sheets, a tool everyone uses.

Maybe you deal with financial data? This is also where SQL works. Check out this brilliant article by my friend Tihomir.

SQL is also a great solution for increasing the efficiency of your business. See How to Boost Your Company With SQL Courses.

The largest corporations, such as UBER, use LearnSQL.com. One of the fastest growing companies in the world teaches SQL to thousands of its employees with the help of our interactive online courses. Read how we help UBER.

I can say confidently that SQL skills can be useful to anyone regardless of the industry. It allows you to work faster and with greater ease. SQL also gives you a chance for a job change and a better career. Read about the Types of Database Jobs: Choose One of Them and Start Being Awesome.

My Story About SQL Basics

This is my story. Now you know what happened when I took SQL Basics. The course turned me, someone who had no idea about SQL, into an analyst. It gave me the motivation to further develop and expand my skills.

If, like me, you would like to be able to do more and achieve your goals, then don't hesitate – start learning SQL. Discover where it will take you. See you in class.

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