Seeing the perspective you have, I’ll chose to talk about something else that might be interesting.
Career planning. I’d try to find answers to these kind of questions first:
- Can I be a tester for the next 40-50 years?(assuming you retire at the legal age 65-69).
- Does this profession offer one of the best life/work balance?
- What is my goal for the next year, next 3-5 years, next 10+ years. What do I have to do to reach those goals?
- Is there a domain that I like to stay in or do I have to stay a generalist and constantly re-learn everything?
- What is the priority list considering the career? Out of: money, fame, being an expert, growing position inside a company, leadership, people network, teaching others, how well/easy it comes to combine with good life/health, and maybe others…
- What does the future look like? Are jobs numbers increasing? are they switching to development/automation? How does this affect me?
- How easy it is to find a job as a tester in a new location? Since I was young I wanted to see and stay in new places/countries/continents until I find the one that I like most, that I feel it’s closer to my personality. Each new location happens to have different perspective on how they see this profession.
- Also related to priority can be the moral & intellectual constraints such as: do I want to be a follower(do as asked by management) or a dedicated strong point of view professional(do what I believe it is the right thing to do and negotiate that with the management). Think about the test manager asking you to do ISTQB testing style, but you think Context Driven is more appropriate.
- Search for the passion within after practicing testing for a while. Can I see that I have the energy to learn more, be better, have a direction to head to; or does it seem more like a mindless job where I try to do just what I’m told and get the money?
I’m sure I might have missed some other good points, but it’s a start; it would be nice to see more like these.
If you manage to get answers easily in step 1, then we can move on to the step 2.
Related to the less important aspects on getting started:
- Learn as much as possible about the domain you work in(e.g. healthcare, cars, aviation, e-commerce, banking, finance, insurance, e-newspapers, networks, telecommunications) until you reach business analyst level or even better.
- Negotiate with the manager some personal professional development time (if you can get 1 day per week, that’s great). It can be that you want to try new tools, test some other area or another application within the company, teach/mentor another tester, pair with another tester from the company and learn more from him, learn another programming language, so on…
- Learn as much as possible about the Software development type domain you work in (e.g. mobile, web, desktop, networks, embedded, big data, medical devices, industrial and process control, server/cloud).
- Don’t consider that you are already great, because you think you’re awesome in the current project. There’s always something to learn, something you haven’t thought of, or which can be done better. Learn and practice on the job and even outside at home whatever comes to mind. It is easier to say it’s not important and leave it aside. But that can be a trap if it happens often. It can be that you need to tackle: programming languages, techniques, tools, methodologies, communication skills, and so on.
- Try not to remain alone/isolated for too long in your professional career. This can cause self-inflated powers and laziness. It happens more often these days that you might work in a department, even company as sole tester. You might work with other testers, but they do their jobs as told, don’t care about learning, don’t want to talk about testing. There might be no local testers groups, meetups or communities. Try to stay online or offline connected to other passionately professional testers that want to be better. If it’s hard to find any, google for online communities, ask around at conferences, through linkedin maybe, at other local development meetups, start something yourself.
This would be just a start of my second list.
This would be the next level, where you can get more in depth into particular work domains and software development type of domains. This one expands a lot depending on the contexts…
I’ll probably stop here also. As Heather was saying, it can easily develop in a huge list