How did you get into testing?

Can we inspire the next generation of software testers and share stories of how we all got into testing?

For inspiration there’s a pretty epic Twitter thread!

What’s your story?

I personally was 20/21. No qualifications. Working in a bank in a really bad environment. My (now) husband helped put me in touch with the company he was working for to get a really low paid (but better paid than the job I had) job in testing. I wanted to explore working in tech, but didn’t really know what. Testing sounded interesting. Once I had testing experience it wasn’t too hard to get my foot in the door in other companies.

That was a scary 18 years ago!

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I had finished my study for hardware (embedded systems) engineering, and was busy designing and implementing a hardware test system for the company where I worked. It was decent work, and I had just finished my first major project when the company went out of business. A recruiter found similar work in another company, and arranged an interview. But… the recruiter messed up and sent my application to the wrong department, where they needed an embedded systems software tester. I didn’t know this until I showed up to the interview prepared to talk about the wrong department.

It turned out, the interviewer was friends with an old coworker of mine who also worked in the company. They got to talking, and my ex-coworker told them that if they didn’t hire me, he would. So they took a chance on me. Nobody regretted the decision.

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I was working in the press office of a Government utility regulator, and we were just reaching peak activity in the first exercise to reset water company price limits. I was headhunted into a new “Quality Assurance Team”, though “QA” at that point was all about reassuring very senior people that the numbers coming in from water companies were methodologically sound and based on good systems out in the field.

After the exercise was completed, the team (that’s to say ‘my boss and me’) were tasked with improving our internal quality systems. After spending a few weeks evaluating ISO 9000 (later to suffer inflation to ISO 9001!), it was decided that we needed to improve our own data collection systems, so I took on a piece of work to review the data we collected and to put it into a more organised framework. This involved designing paper forms - it was that long ago - and then making the data collection tool available as a Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet for those who were so advanced as to be using computers for data collection. (We found that generally it was the smaller companies who were most advanced in this respect!)

Once the tool had been designed, I was given the job of testing it (to make sure it delivered the numbers we were expecting -there were some complex calculations embedded in the spreadsheet, and some of our senior people didn’t entirely trust these new-fangled computer thingies) on the grounds that I knew how it was supposed to work. After which I then had to test the uploader that scraped the data off into our database, imaginatively named ‘Water2000’ to show how future-proofed it was.

I then spent 15 years testing different iterations of the same package - but that’s another story.

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i was working as a waitress in a cocktail bar …sorry its the first thing that came to mind was the song.

in all honesty i go into testing thanks to a tester who saw potential in me (@adystokes) i wasn’t happy in my previous role in the company. i was getting board and looking at other things to do. spent almost 9 years with the company and was at a dead end.

someone saw something in me that could be good in the right context that really helped me to i pushed forward and got the job. little did i know unless i did a massive fail in the internal interview it was mine.

for me i now go to people when i see potential and ask them if they have ever thought about testing…

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No real qualifications for me.

Learned that test automation existed when I joined my current company almost three years ago.
In a previous job I was frustrated about having to manually check if what I had changed in the code worked, but never thought it could be automated (was the one and only developer there, no one else who could code in the company).

In my current company the testers are part of the development team, so pairing up with the one tester we had at that time was quite easy and both of us enjoyed it.

After a while I discussed if I could switch to testing and test automation and that was allowed. Love it still and no regrets on making this shift.

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Sideways, backwards, and possibly via some illegal dimensions as well.

After I finished secondary school, I did a geology degree. Which I enjoyed and would have been quite happy as a geologist. Alas, a stock market crash killed the market and I spent a total of about 4.5 months working as a geologist in the next 2 years, so I went back and did a 1 year teaching conversion degree. Enjoyed that, graduated into the one and only teacher glut I ever heard about, took 6 months to get a teaching job, but actually teaching? Did not end well.

Ended so not well that I have PTSD issues from it over 20 years later.

After sufficient recovery time including an aborted attempt at a masters in education, went back to college as an undergrad (again), this time for a software engineering degree. Graduated into the fallout of the post 2000 “tech wreck”. Found programming work 6 months later, enjoyed it, then saw the company going into bankruptcy after 6 months. By this stage, I was joking about destroying entire career paths by expressing interest in them.

Moved to the US to marry, eventually got a job as a combination programmer, tester, general dogsbody in the kind of place where there’s so much happening under the counter the official side of things is somewhat obscured, and where the boss is borderline abusive. Did not end well.

Got another job as a tester, and moved from south-central US to near Philadelphia. Really enjoyed this one. Have been testing ever since, although I’m not with the same employer. Have been in the same area for around 15 years now. Discovered testing is fun and hits me as “puzzles” - which I love, so…

The really short version is I’ve shuffled from career attempt to career attempt, and testing is the only one that didn’t blow up in my face (or the only one that survived me - I’m not sure which is the more accurate statement). I’m thankful for that, because it’s also the career I’ve enjoyed most.

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I had a million internships in college and one guy at one of the really tiny B2B magazines I interned for - not even anyone I was working for - looked at me one day, after I had asked 4984367 questions about why their site behaved in these really bizarre ways, and he told me “you have a future in software testing, I think you’re in the wrong field.” I’d always been that girl “good with computers,” but I didn’t really know what software testing was… at all… so I ignored him and continued pursuing a career in editorial.

I ended up at a publisher right out of college, in editorial, and I hated every single second of it. I was so desperate to find literally any other job, and one posting that stood out to me was for a QA Analyst. I was not remotely qualified, but, I heard the voice of that internship guy, and decided to give it a shot. I got the job (somehow?) and have never ever looked back. I recently started an automated testing process which is something I never thought I’d have the opportunity to be a part of, and now I’m leading it!

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Testing found me. Twice.

I was working in product development for a small instruments company. I thought I could be doing more and pitched a new job to the manufacturing manager. In that new job, I would create applications to evaluate product coming off the production line. A month later, I was creating those applications (my first testing job). I was also learning how to deliver content to an internal web site. After a few years, the environment changed when the division was sold.

I leveraged my minimal web site experience to get a new job as a web application developer. The company had people that did testing. Full time. I thought that was pretty cool. It was a few years later I was approached to create an internal application to generate data. That effort was one of many that catalyzed the creation of the Test Engineering job family (my current testing job). Still enjoying the diversity and challenge ten years later!

Joe

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It was 1999. I’d finished college but didn’t go to Uni as I hated the academic environment, I wanted to get hands on. Looking for jobs in IT a friend heard about a company needing a tester. He’d applied and suggested I did as well. We both interviewed and I got the job as a junior tester. I loved working with software and finding bugs and that was it, I was a tester.

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I was studying chemical engineering and had an undergraduate research job that involved developing a front end for an existing calculation engine for a small lab. They basically handed me a book about Visual Basic (version 2.0!) and sat me at a 386 and left me to it. I’d taken a couple of programming courses before (including data structures and algorithms in C), so it wasn’t completely alien, at least.

The fellow who wanted the work done had been a very early employee at this place that makes the world’s leading process engineering software, which we were using in our courses. When I was graduating, I heard that they were looking for people to test their software over the summer, so I got a hold of the guy who was supposedly looking for help and basically badgered him until he gave me a job.

They sat me at a DOS box, a UNIX box, and a VAX, and handed me a manual for QA Partner (now SilkTest). (I’m seeing the pattern here with regard to training techniques.) By the end of the summer, I’d learned some of the basics around automation and automated a number of their existing tests, and they asked me to stay on, but I’d already planned to start a one-year master’s program in environmental engineering, so I went off and did that instead. Worked for two years after that as an engineering consultant, where I became disillusioned by the fact that we were mostly paid to make emissions numbers look better for our clients.

The dot-com boom was kind of winding down, but I asked back at the place where I’d worked in testing, and they were hiring. I interviewed with several different teams but wound up as a tester on their flagship product. I stayed there for nine years after that, progressing quickly from a tester, to a senior tester, to a project lead in their QA group. I’ve had a number of testing roles since then, but that’s how I started off.

I’d have to say that having solid knowledge of the domain you’re testing is super important. With my background, I was better able to understand our products (which were highly technical) as well as our customers’ requirements and potential pain points. Communication skills and organizational skills are critical as well. I think that’s likely one reason why testers who come from other disciplines can often be so successful.

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“I was working as a waitress in a cocktail bar” Great way to capture attention!!

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I was working for a company that supplied software to the NHS.

The then QA guy moved into development but they didn’t have another tester. I was the only one that had interest in tech (I wanted to become a developer myself at the time) and who knew the product.

A few months later I sat the ISTQB qualification (funded by the company) and became a junior tester.

This was… ~2 years ago :slightly_smiling_face:

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I’ve worked for several years for an ecommerce store that deals in audio/video equipment. It was work from home position, and I was working on everything that can be done remotely - web development, design, web store administration, copywriting, social medial management, SEO, Adwords, email marketing, blogging, etc…

As their business scaled, my work-life balance went nuts and company became too toxic for me to work so I’ve decided to quit. Being a junior at everything and master of nothing, I was looking for some position that could fit my skill set, and so I’ve came across a small company that was looking for junior tester with similar skill set. That was about two years ago, and I’m still working there (first and only tester in company).

I think it was a good choice given my X-shaped skill set, as a tester a get to work with seniors from all related fields so my skills are now growing much faster. And company culture is top-notch.

So I wasn’t supposed to be a tester, I was supposed to be a rockstar!

In all seriousness though, my two passions when I was younger was Music and Computers. I was very keen to work with audio in some sort of way and a lot of my work experience was around sound engineering both in studio and stage. I was also in a band and I composed music regularly, so professional music composition was high on the list too.

Through this mess of ‘working with audio’ I decided I wanted to write music for video games and I (sadly) read that the way into the games industry whilst I was building my composition portfolio up, was through software testing. So I started applying for games testing jobs and failing miserably (why would they hire a music grad to test games?)

In the end I took a step back and started looking for any testing roles that would eventually give me experience to work in the games industry and I ended up getting a job as a junior software tester for a music notation company. They were looking for someone with advanced music theory knowledge and some computer experience. I was the right fit and I took the job. After a year I was hooked, not only did testing pay better than music work, I loved the challenge of breaking down complex systems to understand them.

And I’ve been hooked ever since! (Still waiting on that record deal though)

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I had been working for a bank for years and was bored with my current role. My husband who works in IT had suggested I might like testing so when a secondment came up doing UAT for a new system I jumped at the opportunity. I enjoyed my 6 months there so applied for a permanent position in the testing team. 16 years later I’m still there and have seen a LOT of changes.

I was working on a support desk at my last company. I didn’t enjoy it, and people were aware I didn’t enjoy it. The company didn’t employ a tester, so I suggested that with my domain knowledge and bits of SQL and FoxPro, I could do it, and the role was created.

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I had always liked computers and technology but never thought it could be a career for me.
I had a BA in education and 7 years of teaching, then changed careers to an office job as a technical doc/writer creating digital manuals and liked that but ended up getting laid off during the recession. I worked as a teacher’s aide after that (teaching license expired and wasn’t really excited to do that again) and finally got a job as a school secretary, which combined the kids and the office work. I didn’t mind it but decided I wanted something with growth potential. I get bored quickly so about 7 years ago I started working toward a 2 year degree in tech support to try and get my foot in the door.
Unfortunately by this time I couldn’t afford to go backwards and take entry level IT support jobs so I happened to find out about a school software company that was hiring and applied there. I was actually offered a choice of jobs when I interviewed- Either a tester or a product owner. Both sounded interesting but I gravitated toward the testing job.
I had no testing experience but a great product knowledge background from being both a teacher and a school office secretary. I knew how users needed things to function and loved helping work on projects that made the user experience better. I also love learning and had a great time developing a learning plan for myself, that my manager liked and started implementing for the rest of the QA team. After almost 3 years I had hit a spot where I needed a change and had a recruiter approach me for my current job. Now in eCommerce I am immersed with all levels of “Stuff I don’t know” but it is fun learning and figuring it out.I have been able to add agile scrum experience processes and other process improvement ideas to this new position.
I’m now trying to move into more of the automated testing field using mabl vs manual testing. I have found I really like writing out requirements and simplifying tasks for development. Writing is still one of my favorites along with a good dose of research and analysis. So now I’m looking to see where I can focus more on those skills too!

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Little bit of an odd route into testing but I started out as a team lead in a pretty popular UK bakery/food on the go chain.

By chance one day I applied for an IT support job (I was always interested in computing outside of work and never thought I would get the job as I had no formal training or qualifications) I got the job and spent around 2 years in stock rooms pulling apart tills/laptops/PCs. A temp testing job came about as the test team were working on a big project and needed more hands on deck. I’ll be honest I wasn’t even aware software testing was a thing up to this point! I read through the spec and figured why not give it a try, I got the temp job which was only supposed to be 4 month and nearly 4 years later I’m still testing away! I’ve since moved companies and have a permanent testing role and I’ve never been happier in my career.

Moving to the world of testing was possibly the best decision I’ve ever made.

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I started in the computer industry as a high school dropout. Was self-taught and worked my way up through the industry (call centre, documentation, customer support, hardware, programming, sales, etc.). Ten years later, decided to go to university as a mature student. The plan was to become a teacher.

The university messed up my paperwork for teacher’s college and I had to wait another year to apply to teacher’s college again. Needed a job to pay off student loans. Rather than take a “real” job I took a job testing IDEs, compilers, micro-kernels, etc… I figured after a year of doing that I’d go back to teacher’s college. Twenty one years later and I’m still testing. Absolutely love it.

Really interesting to read through everyone’s experiences/journeys!

For me, I’m pretty new to testing and only been doing it since end of Jan this year. I was in Customer Service for about 4 years and joined my current company, a tech startup (though not so ‘startup-y’ now it’s growing rapidly), in a Customer Support role. When researching for my interview, I was immediately interested in the product and expressed very early on that I’d be really keen to learn and know more about the Development and Engineering side of the business. During my (almost) 2 years in Customer Service, I found myself drawn to resolving and investigating technical (sometimes just user-error!) issues raised by customers and working closely with the Senior QA in the Engineering Team. An opportunity opened up for me to join as a Junior QA and thus my testing journey began this year! I still feel like I’m in the early learning stages and new to the community but definitely loving it so far :smiley:

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