There are several approaches you can try, all of which I have used myself.
Databases are difficult to understand and fully appreciate until you try
to design one or work with one yourself and so gaining any kind of
experience will help in your education. Designing databases for
organizations involves interacting with various people in the organization
to come up with the database solution, so a course in communications or
interpersonal skills would also come in handy. (You might be surprised at
how "guarded" or "possessive" some employees feel about the data they
collect even if they do not actually "own" it.)
1.) End User Approach: Get a paid or volunteer job as a Data Entry
Operator or related position. You would then have the opportunity to work
with a database from the point of view of an end user, a critical
experience in my view if you plan to design applications in the future.
You would also gain experience on at least one database application. In
the past 10 years I have volunteered my computer expertise at the local
public television station.
2.) Home Project: Design your own database based upon a personal hobby
or interest. For example, I recently created an MS-Access database to
catalog all the video tapes in my personal library. Of course, there is
always the list of friends and family to send birthday cards to and other
important things to keep track of. Everyone I know keeps an address book,
a kind of personal DB.
3.) Local Club or Organization: If you belong to a club, you can
volunteer your services to organize the club roster. Presently, I am
Membership Chairman of the Milwaukee Astronomical Society. Lots of DB
4.) Database Education: The basis for all database design rests on
really just a few concepts which you can learn in a database management or
database theory course at your local college. Once you understand SQL,
ISAM, relational theory, DB management and related topics, then you should
be able to tackle most any project. Learning how to use Oracle, MS-Access
and other packages mostly amounts to learning how to use the software.
Learning opportunities abound. You just need to know where to look.
Julie K Frey
BS Astronomy-Physics UW Madison, 1984
BS Business Management Systems-Computer Systems Milwaukee School of
Programmer, IATN Inc.