Ask Me Anything: Career Building - Lena Wiberg

Tonight we were joined by the wonderful @pejgan for an Ask Me Anything session all about career building.

I’ll make sure to add any questions that we didn’t get to and any resources mentioned during the session to this thread.

If you missed the live session, a recording will be available on the Ministry of Testing website for all Club level members once we’ve edited it and added captions.

Have you got any more questions you’d like to ask? Add them here :grin:

Example CVs popped up in the chat CV's: How Do You Write Yours?

A question from the session that we felt could get more detail here What a software tester portfolio looks like, and how to build one?

Crowdsource testing also popped up Crowd Source Testing

Questions we didn’t get to

  1. How non IT person can start career in software Testing after almost 10 years career gap?
  2. How do you best go about widening you knowledge and improving your testing if you are the only tester in your organisation? There are a lot of resources out there, but sometimes it would be good to get a fresh perspective and some guidance!
  3. What are the future opportunities after working as a Senior test engineer for almost 4-5 years?
  4. With more and more job descriptions looking like Unicorn roles (20+ years of experience, know cloud, security, how to make tea from fresh leaves, with spring water, automation, soft skills, AI, finance, retail etc.) any idea on how to sift through unrealistic descriptions and pick out what might actually be part of the role?
  5. Hello! Would you have any advise on remote work?:grinning:
  6. Let’s assume I’m a QA Lead with a relevant technical background. I’m involved in building a new test framework and in general I’m handling all the QA technical related topics, is Test Architect the next step?
  7. How to mentor other testers in our starting testing careers?
  8. What would you recommend when one wants to move from QA Lead to QA Manager?
  9. Functional/Manual tester wanting to become a QA Engineer. What would be your advice for learning the necessary technical skills to step into a more technical role?
  10. How would you go about blending previous team leading/management experience, coupled with engineering skills back into a test management role?
  11. What advice would you give a former QA Manager (and admitted Pointy Haired Boss) who has stepped back into the trenches and finds himself a bit overwhelmed by the changes which have taken place over the last ten years.
  12. Who is mentoring experienced testers in their careers?
  13. how should the best manager of a tester look like?
  14. example of success story in your QA career (eg changes you help implement, improvement in testing) that helped your team greatly.
  15. What exactly is a test architect? Why/how could that be a good career path to take?

Thank you for all of the awesome (and terrifying) questions! I’ll start trying to answer the unanswered ones first thing tomorrow!

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So, this is a lot like the question we talked about live. This is a hard one and I have no fool-proof answer.
First of all: I don’t see testing as an entry to IT so if the goal is “just” to get into IT, I find myself struggle to approve of that. But that is because I love testing and wish everyone understood how complex it is while seeing how many people see it as a stepping stone to “greater things”. I left development for testing so I don’t see it that way at all.
But, you are all adults and can make your own decisions. If the reality is that testins IS easier to get into, you should not be stopped by my feelings towards that. Whatever sets your career in motion!
So, in the live session we had a number of ideas, such as:

  • Find a company you feel would be a good match and try to get any role within that company. Once in, start planning your transition into testing. Customer Support is one of my best tips for that.
    It is always easier to get entry level positions from inside the company
  • Look for internship opportunities, once in you have a chance of shining
  • Look for trainee programs and entry level programs
  • NETWORK! Attend meetups, find slack channels, online forums. Any water hole for testers! Work on your brand and get other people to sponsor you!
  • Build a portfolio and make sure to get acknowledged for your parts. Open source, crowdsourcing, collaborate with more senior testers
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There are SO many resources out there!! Blogs, books, meetups, conferences!
So my top 3 tips would probably be:

  • Start following the “big names” on twitter, see who they follow and retweet, follow them. It will give you an idea of the “trends” of the business
  • There are a bunch of forums (such as this), slack channels etc to follow. Spend a little time each week on a few of them.
  • There are also a number of people collecting (what they consider to be) good articles and blog posts - Software testing Weekly and Simon P. Schrijver are two that I follow.

And I really really recommend at least reading the classic books. “Agile testing”, “More Agile testing”, “Explore it!” and “Lessons Learned in Software testing” have shaped a lot of who I am as a tester.

And shameless plug: I blog on testing.pejgan.se. I think some posts are pretty good :slight_smile:

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Let’s assume I’m a QA Lead with a relevant technical background. I’m involved in building a new test framework and in general I’m handling all the QA technical related topics, is Test Architect the next step?

What exactly is a test architect? Why/how could that be a good career path to take?

Similar questions keep coming up and I am not sure what people are looking for and why.
Simple answer: Anything. What do you want to do and why?
Start exploring WHY you want to shift, what you are missing, what you enjoy/not enjoy in your current role and what it is you look for. Is it more cash? More influence? More challenge? More status? A new business?

There are a zillion roles out there, which ones do you look for?
To make ut worse - the same role means different things in different places so MY idea of “Test architect” will be different to the person next to me. I would assume people mean someone with a bit more of an overview perspective, someone looking more at how things are interconnected than details of how every little box works.

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I don’t think this is new. It’s been like this since I started at least. :woman_shrugging:
Don’t let yourself be stopped by large wish lists. Apply anyway.

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Not sure if the question is regarding how to find remote work or how to succeed when working remotely?
Since I am no expert on finding remote work I’ll choose to interpret the other way…
As someone who probably uses a lot of “things I head at the coffee machine” and similar, remote can be very tricky!! My best advice would be to reach out for clarifications, information, meetings and anything you need. Make it clear. You could also use it to challenge old truths. “We’ve always done it this way” just doesn’t work now, does it?
Also, take care of your mental health. Take breaks. Go outside. Be honest and open with how it is affecting you.

Mentoring is a very large subject and you basically mentor testers the same way you mentor anyone else. Agree on expectations, goals and format. Pick at most a few areas to work on and PLAN.
Set a regular schedule and have goals for each meeting.

Find a sponsor! Someone who can put your name out there, someone to promote you and also let you know where you are lacking.

But also: Be sure this is what you want. Management is extremely rewarding at it’s best and extremely exhausting at it’s worst. Find someone to talk to who could mentor and coach you.

Find your WHY.

How do you like to learn? Books, courses, blogs, mentoring?
Learning “technical skills” is no different than other skills.
Could you find someone in a role like the one you want and interview them? What do they do? What skills do they feel is important?
Coding is not rocket science and there are many many courses out there. I like Angie Jones introduction to Java on Test Automation U.
Databases is usually very useful to understand, maybe read up on SQL?
Understanding networks is a big help, read up on some basics around HTTP, requests and responses.
It goes back to the same answer as before I’m afraid: Figure out what it is you mean by “technical role” and figure out what is required, work from that.

Not sure what this means. It sounds like the perfect match for a test management role, I am unsure I understand the problem. Happy to talk more about it though! Give me more context :slight_smile:

One step at a time! :slight_smile: Break it down into smaller pieces and solve one by one. You can totally do it!! Find people to talk to, ask for help.

Who is or who should be? I think maybe seniors might more often be coached more than mentored. I have always managed to find someone more skilled than me in whatever area I want to build. Senior managers, specialists.
Also: Why not reverse mentoring? Pair up with someone with a totally different background!

I don’t think there is an answer to that. I try to be the best manager to each and every one of my reports but that also means I adapt my mgmt style to whatever the context and person requires. So adaptable perhaps?
In general: open, honest, interested, invested, empathic, a sponsor. My best mgmt skill is definitely Active Listening. Investing 100% of my energy in the person I am with while I am with them.
Sometimes my technical know-how is a benefit, sometimes my experience with work place law and stuff helps, sometimes it just helps that I make people laugh.

First thing that comes to mind is when we managed to shift from hundreds upon hundreds of obsolete and weird test cases to mind maps. I love mind maps! They said it could not be done but we convinced all stakeholders that the documentation was enough and it was.

Second thing I think of is slowly shifting the mindset around automated tests from “we must create automation for 100% of every X” to “We should have small, isolated tests that are run when they are needed, not every test every time” in combination with “Keep everything, they might come in handy” to “Does this spark joy? No, let’s get rid of it!”
Not sure I got all the way there but it felt like winning the olympic gold medal when people started agreeing to delete tests. (Go for it! DELETE TESTS!!!)

On a personal note: When a very shy insecure junior blossomed by being nudged into taking on a more challenged role and mind set. I love growing people!

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