When I was learning SQL, I remember reading that it should be pronounced just like the word sequel; however, I worked with a bunch of techs who seemed to prefer S-Q-L. Is there a proper convention for this?
The first version/draft of SQL was in fact called Structured English Query Language and the acronym was SEQUEL. Due to trademark violations on the acronym, the name was changed to Structured Query Language and abbreviated as SQL.
So it was intended to be pronounced as SEQUEL at first. Nowadays it's a matter of preference. There is no standard set for it (yet).
Some urban legends say that the Structured Query Language was actually a sequel to the previous Query Language and that the SQL acronym is intended to be pronounced as sequel.
According to the Computer Contradictionary (Stan Kelly-Bootle, MIT Press, 1995), "those pronouncing SQL as \ess-kew-ell\ rather than \sequel\ are instantly revealed as charlatans incapable of confuting the six and seventy jarring normal forms. Those who have really suffered are allowed to say \squeal\ ".
My nephew, who's a manager at Microsoft and who both knows a modest amount of SQL and hires many SQL programmers (SQL Server/TSQL, of course), was totally flummoxed when I brought up the 'Es Que El' argument. He'd never heard it said that way and assumed I knew nothing about it if I "didn't realize it was pronounced sequel". To him, it was as if you came in to interview about "C pound sign" programming.
You can laugh about his lack of depth on the origin of the term but he just might be representative of many hiring managers—and that's what counts! I've also done general techie contracts at Amazon.com (an Oracle house, not SQL Server ) in Seattle and sequel is what I hear there too, at least by the front line troops and in the Data Warehouse training films I've seen. (Disclaimer: I don't know what the actual production SQL people call it there.)
All I can say is that you might consider throwing both terms around when you're interviewing, then you can get all purist on them later.