How to practice data engineering when you're not data engineering

One of the hard parts of data engineering is that, when you’re not at work, it is hard to practice because database management systems cost money, data infrastructure takes time to set up, and there are no stakeholders asking you interesting questions. If you are in a situation in which you want to improve your data engineering skills at home, whether because you are between jobs or because you literally cannot leave your house and your brain is turning into mush from Say Yes to the Dress reruns, the following is some ideas that have worked for me:

Use academic resources

Real life examples may be lacking, but relational databases have existed since the 1970’s so there are some books and courses on the topic. My recommendations are:

Contribute to open source projects

I’ve had success with finding open source projects on Github that need help with SQL. Github has a pretty good search functionality. I’ve used the search to find issues with help-wanted labels that include the word SQL, such as this search There are some open source data engineering projects that you can find open issues on. For example:

Work on tangential skills

If you don’t find anything that you think will help your SQL or ETL skills, remember we use other skills every day at our job! Some other resources I’ve used throughout the years:

That’s my advice for today! I also have advice on picking the perfect dress for your special day if that something you are looking for. Feel free to send me more things that worked for you and I’ll add them here!