Acronyms aren’t always your friends

I am looking for a job again. One set of skills that I keep coming across is for ETL processes. I had no idea what that is, but whenever I see a job like that I would just disregard it and look at the next one in the list.

Today I decided to find out what ETL means. In my mind, I am thinking it is something along the lines of Six-Sigma for databases, but I have no real understanding of Six-Sigma either so that should have been the first clue that I needed to do some research.

According to Webopedia, ETL stands for Extract Transform Load. All it is means is you read a database, change the raw data into something usable, then you write the processed data into another database. “ETL is used to migrate data from one database to another, to form data marts and data warehouses and also to convert databases from one format or type to another.”

That’s it?

I do that same process every month to get the download numbers for the podcasts in the Deliberate Noise Network. I download text files with the information I need, I manually extract the numbers I need, upload them to an Access database, parse the data for each show into its own query, then export that query to an Excel spreadsheet for mailing to the show hosts. The details are different, but the process is pretty much what they are describing.

Hell, I used to do ETL for fun. My old laptop has a bunch of Access, MySQL, and Oracle databases on the hard drive because I would move the data from one format to another. At a couple of my more data intensive jobs, ETL was pretty much all I did.

Without a doubt, I have missed out on applying for a number of jobs (some I may have even gotten) because I didn’t take the time to understand the acronyms they used. Time to re-evaluate my resume and job searching routine.