5 Easy Ways to Get Real-World SQL Experience Before Your First Job – MUO – MakeUseOf


SQL is a sought-after skill. Here are a few ways to start a career in SQL and take advantage of the growth opportunities.
Need some hands-on SQL experience before starting full-time at your first data analyst job? Don’t know where to start?
You’d be pleasantly surprised to know that there are not one but five different ways in which you can gain real-world SQL experience to boost your portfolio and give yourself a professional edge. So let’s find out how.
Structured Query Language ( a.k.a SQL) is a standardized ANSI (American National Standards Institute) computer language. Developers and programmers use it to communicate with relational databases.
Given that every business across industries uses relational databases to manage their data, it is a must-have skill for all data analysts. Statista reveals that close to 50% of developers use SQL as their language of choice.
You might have honed your SQL skills learned advanced concepts and syntax, but none of it is of value if you don’t have practical experience. This is perhaps the leading reason why most beginners find it impossible to land their dream data job.
The good news: today, you’ll learn how to dive deep into the world of SQL and gain the experience necessary to stand out from the crowd.
Embracing your SQL knowledge and skills is one thing. Convincing recruiters that you’re an excellent find is another. And since data jobs are impossible to land without practical experience, you need a little more than “self-taught SQL” on your CV to boost your career prospects.
Here are five different ways to get yourself the desired SQL experience to make you the single most desirable candidate for data-backed jobs.
There is a wide selection of online, on-demand SQL courses run by industry experts for beginners. Some of these courses offer top-grade training, free of cost!
For example, Google’s Digital Garage offers a course called SQL for Data Analysis via Udacity. This four-week course for beginners is divided into six lessons and covers basics, joins, aggregations, subqueries, temp tables, data cleaning, and window functions.
In addition to on-demand learning, you can enroll in certification training courses such as Udemy’s Ultimate MySQL Bootcamp. This 20-hour certification course covers user and sales data, SQL syntax, and aggregate functions. It also delves into MySQL logical operators, Photo Sharing Social Network, and SQL joins NodeJS for a comprehensive SQL learning experience.
But the best part about learning SQL by yourself is that you can head to Microsoft and take their SQL Certification tests depending on your skill level.
SQL is simple, logical, and easy to learn. All you need to do is choose a program and stick with it.
While this is more of a self-learning tactic, transforming raw, unfiltered data into organized, usable pipelines is a life skill for any data analyst. All you have to do is use SQL to manipulate unpolished data into reliable datasets.
A great place to secure raw data for your SQL project is Google Trends. You can download free and publicly available data from the world’s largest search engine from the Google Trends Data Store. Choose a data set to download by subject, geographic location, and time for your SQL project.
For instance, you can download a dataset on the number of people who’ve received their COVID-19 vaccinations in the US. Now you want to identify how many have comorbidities and their state-wise numbers. Use your SQL knowledge to extract the information into a table of usable information.
You can also try out datasets available on Data.gov, Kaggle, IMDb, etc., to hone your skills. Then, start practicing what you’ve learned to get good at it.
Most interviews will include an SQL challenge to determine your capabilities and comfort level. One of the best ways to get constructive SQL experience is by working on case studies that mimic real-world scenarios.
By emulating real-life problem situations, case studies help you figure out SQL-based solutions to actual problems you might deal with at your future workplace.
Look for use cases and case studies published by key players in IT like Microsoft, Infosys, Azure, and you’ll have plenty of material to practice SQL methodology. Then, query these case studies without looking at the solutions: A/B testing case studies are an excellent place to start validating data inputs.
You can also head over to Mode, where you can access their SQL Editor to solve case studies in real-time. Other free online SQL editors you can access to solve your case studies include Beekeeper Studio, SQuirrel SQL, etc.
If you already have a working knowledge of SQL, the best way to gain confidence is to practice your craft. Several websites—SQLZoo, SQL Fiddle, DB-Fiddle, Oracle Live SQL allow you to put your SQL knowledge to use for a trial run. You can utilize these “SQL playgrounds” to your advantage.
You’ll also find tons of excellent free resources and open-source SQL platforms out there, so make the most of it.
You cannot live in the gig economy and not be part of it. So put your SQL skills to the test by picking up freelance or short-term SQL gigs. Bear in mind that you might not land yourself a well-paid gig, but your main motivation is to gain some experience and earn testimonials from happy clients.
Platforms like Upwork and Freelancer.com have plenty of SQL gigs on offer.
You have many choices, from a freelancer to a SQL consultant to a part-timer in a SQL agency. Select a gig based on your skill level in using SQL. You’ll make connections, get references, have irrefutable SQL experience, and more.
Building your SQL portfolio is easy enough once you know where to start. After all, SQL is a learner-friendly programming language that you can master in about two to three weeks if you know programming fundamentals.
And you can choose to supplement your skills with Relational Database Engine, SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS), SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS), or programming languages like JavaScript, Python, and PHP.
Even a little understanding or working knowledge of these will increase your chances of landing the desired role.
Get to grips with SQL relational databases by understanding the Project and Selection operations with these examples.

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