People fall in to testing - but where from?

(Jesper) #1

Listening to the QR podcast - by Keith Klain. Episode 10 Michael Bolton Chapter II
Reminds me of all the wonderful diverse backgrounds we having in testing.
Bring it - testing benefits from it

32% of all testers surveyed in this fell into testing. But where from?

I fell into testing in after done some small scale technical coordination. Later I finished a master in computer science, while there are plenty of those around developers, it’s not so common in the testing field?

Where did you fall from?

(Heather) #2

I fell around all sorts of corners! I started as a consultant mathematician/scientist on software for diagnostic devices in a company. I quickly started software development with them. My next job was pure software development in the pharmaceutical industry. When I was there I really started to bother other developers when they merged code without checking the knock on consequences for other pieces of code. A consultant we had in insisted that we should get a software tester on the team. He suggested that I was a good candidate for the role and here I am :smile:

(Brian) #3

I studied embedded systems, that is, hardware and software development on a chip-level. The plan was to be a generalist who could do everything within a given hardware environment. Back when I first started, it seemed like a pretty solid idea. But somewhere along the lines, many companies started looking for specialists. I tried working with software for a while, but programming wasn’t my cup of tea. So, I switched over to hardware design (in the same company), and that worked out better for me.

But the company moved, and I didn’t move with it. So I needed work where I could do both hardware and software design, and I found it fairly quickly. I worked for a while as a “Quality Assurance Engineer.” That is, designing and making the tests for testing PCBs to make sure they pass the company’s quality criteria.

Thanks to a complex set of circumstances, the company fell on bad times. I was again looking for new work. With the title “QA Engineer,” I applied to a company looking for the same kind of work. But the recruiter was either misinformed or told me the wrong job (and department). The job was not a QA job as I understand it, but instead, it was a testing job. They gave me a chance, and I found my calling.

(Robert) #4

I qualified as a librarian many years ago; when library jobs dried up in the 1970s, I worked as a wages clerk and then in social security, doing front-desk as well as back-office jobs and finally spending five years working with Industrial Injuries Benefit and the casework appeals system. Then, when UK water was privatised, I moved sideways into the regulator’s office (Ofwat), where I gravitated into the press office. For a few years, if you ever saw a statement in one of the broadsheet newspapers attributed to “an Ofwat spokesman”, that was me. Then I was headhunted into Ofwat’s then-new “Quality Assurance Team”, though QA there meant working with consulting civil engineers who were engaged to review water company data collection methodologies.

I was then tasked with devising a new data collection tool - this was in the Autumn/Winter of 1995 - which at that time was a series of paper forms, optionally available as a spreadsheet for those companies at the cutting edge of technology. Fairly rapidly, the spreadsheet became the format of choice; then as the quantity and complexity of the data we required collecting increased, the spreadsheet had more and more functionality incorporated into it. It also became the source file for a data scrape into a larger database, so at that point I was made responsible for testing the whole process “as you know what it’s supposed to do” (not best testing practice, of course; but that was then). And so I “fell into” testing.

In the meantime, I also had other tasks; I was the organisation’s leading proof-reader, though that also dovetailed with work I was doing on data quality generally (my main focus was reconciling text to tables in published reports, ensuring that the same number was quoted consistently from report to press notice to keynote speech); and at the same time I also had a volunteer role as staff representative through the main Civil Service trade union and also a certified health and safety representative.

After fifteen years testing annual iterations of the same tool, however, I was getting a little jaded, and there were no opportunities to move out of the role internally. So in 2010 I engineered my exit from the Service and set out to make a new career as a professional photographer, author and journalist. I had some considerable professional success here - three books published, a series of magazine articles either written or illustrated (or both), and photographs in exhibitions in three continents and two international photography awards won. The only problem was that I couldn’t make any money from this. So in 2012, a friend, who was a developer with a national level legal professional’s organisation, pointed me towards a temporary testing role that they were recruiting for. It now surprises me that I got that job, given how little it now seems that I knew!

I then did a couple of contracts, one for a medical equipment firm and a consultancy for a travel agent, both of which taught me a lot. But as I found contract roles difficult to switch seamlessly between, I was happy to take on a permanent role with a facilities management company who did internal systems development, until their owners decided that to be an unaffordable luxury and sacked most of the in-house team. I now work with a specialist software house, who recruited me, it seems, entirely for the range of different experiences I’ve had. It’s also only in this role that I’ve discovered the whole testers’ community, which I find to be the thing that’s taught me more about testing in one year than I ever gained in the previous twenty!

(Olaf) #5

I started as a qualified dental technician (14 years in the trade), and ended up in IT when I was working at a lab that was testing cad-cam software.
A friend then suggested I get ISEB certifications, so I did (in my own time).

I’ve been in IT nearly 16 years now, and have worked on a variety of financial, media, healthcare and retail projects. No more teeth, though!

(Gem) #6

I graduated uni with a biochem degree and no wish to do anything really with it. I worked in a community pharmacy for a while, then got a job doing tech support for a digital agency. I ended up helping the sole tester there, realised I enjoyed doing testing, found Ministry of Testing and here I am!

(Gregory Paciga) #7

I did my degrees in physics/astronomy, but after 10 years in university didn’t have much desire to go on to an academic career. I cast a very wide net and ended up getting a data engineer job since I had lots of experience managing and analyzing terabytes of data in my research. The company I started with, though, realized very quickly that my experimentalist mindset was very well suited to testing (probably because I kept finding bugs and poking them with lots of “what if” questions during training). I’ve been doing it ever since.

(Paul) #8

After university and a year of call centre and hospitality jobs I went to London to train to be a Physics teacher. I grew to hate my course and teaching however and left. I got a job working doing admin in a local authority parking fine department. Following the departure of another member, I then got shoved onto an IT support and database role.

I changed jobs after about 18 months, then getting a job as a junior DBA working for a small IT consultancy in Docklands. Following various departures and a reorg I was offered head of testing and delivery.

(Kate) #9

I’ve fallen into testing from just about everywhere (okay, not quite, but close enough for government work).

I started by training as a geologist - and graduated into the aftermath of the 87 stock market crash. Which had pretty much wiped out geology hires in Australia. After nearly 2 years with nothing more than a couple of short-term contract jobs (I enjoyed both, but in once case the company went bankrupt, and in the other it was never more than a 2 week contract), I went back and did a teaching course.

And graduated into the one and only teacher glut ever to happen. 6 months later, I finally get teaching work, then a year after that I’m out with a screaming nervous breakdown. Depression, suicidal episodes, the works.

Recover from that, go back to university, this time with for a computer science degree. Graduation year? 2000… After another 6 month battle to get work, I get something, only to have that company go bankrupt 6 months later. By that stage I was engaged so I arranged to move to the USA where my fiance lived, and where the only work I could get was testing.

And I loved it.

This… interesting work history is why I joke I kill entire fields of endeavor just by wanting to enter them. I’ve never regretted falling into testing, and I’m very relieved the Midas touch in reverse effect seems to have finally died.

(Ronald) #10

I fell into testing after 10 years of doing java development, which is kind of frowned upon by the java developers I now work with, haha. I fell into this at my previous employer; we hired an experienced agile tester there and he really inspired me about his line of work. His level of critical thinking is what inspired me the most, but he also showed me that having a development background can be quite handy as a tester.

I’ve only just converted to my new role as a tester (since september) with my new employer and so far I’m very happy I switched!

(Kim) #11

I was an insurance underwriter where part of our role was to support UAT. My team disliked testing so I would volunteer regularly, as it was a place where I could investigate & question - so unlike underwriting :smile:

I had been with the company nearly 8 years when a testing contract role came up within the orgainisation. I was not allowed to do it as a secondment so I quit and was rehired on a fixed term 9-month contract. Impulsive I know and trust me, I heard all the reasons from work colleagues why I was being crazy. I have not looked back since. Most of my time testing has been alone working closely with developers and I have never had any testing mentoring. I’ve self-funded all my certification training, googled everything & taken contracts at less than half the rate of others, while having to train them how to test a system just to stay testing. I had that contract renewed 3 times and then moved on out of the financial sector into GIS software, currently looking for the next fun contract.

All I can say is if you are passionate about testing then go for it even if the world says your silly to try. Just a bit of background I don’t have a degree, I am in the over 40’s age group and I changed my entire profession at this late stage in my life. BUT I am so happy I did this as finally, I get to do something I really love and that doesn’t happen to everyone. Now I just have to convenience all the recruiters how good I am with my degree from the University of Life hehe

(Mark) #12

I’ve fell into testing twice now (you’d think the first time would have put me off :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:).

First time I was a data entry supervisor for a failing airline. Spotted a job that looked interesting and somehow got the role!

Ten years later and I HATED it, hated testing and hated the company. So I made the best decision of my career and took redundancy.

Ended up after that working selling mobile phones and after a few months I missed the weekdays 9-5 life. Got offered a short term contract testing and took the step back into testing.

I absolutely LOVE it now, was just burnt out after so long in one position in one company work no chance of progression(the one time there was I applied, got the highest test scores and then… Got rejected!!).

Hopefully I don’t have to fall into testing for a third time.

(Kim) #13

Glad you came back to the dark side lol

(Mohamed) #14

I started as a junior tester who have no idea what a testing is :smiley: , 2 years later i fell in love with the performance testing tools and that’s become my matter of interest and my career as well for more than 5 years.Found Ministry of testing months ago and here i am :smiley:

(Alastair) #15

I fell into testing after studying History at university. History, at the time, was my passion. I had no real career goals from it, I just decided I wanted to go to university to study something I enjoyed.

After graduating I still had no idea what I wanted to do. I got a job as a games tester (sounded like the dream job for someone interested in playing video games!) and kind of evolved from there.

(Sara) #16

I fell into testing via non-profit work as a subject matter expert regarding US benefit programs for low-income families as well as the workflow processes of the organization. Much of my work regarded writing specifications for complex application and estimation features and then doing manual testing. As a cash-strapped non-profit working on in-house software, much of the work was informal and not well documented due to funding and time restraints. I was basically a one-person QA department, dealing with specs, testing, bug troubleshooting, training staff on software use, etc.

I have no formal training in testing or programming, and given the niche nature of my previous work I’m looking into more training and certifications. I’m very grateful for resources such as this. Any advice from those who have had a similar trajectory would be greatly appreciated!

(Kim) #17

Hey Sara,

Sounds like we have had similar experiences with testing and my last role was almost identical to your current situation.
Advice? Sounds like you are on the right path and forums like this one especially I have found very helpful for feedback.
Currently, I have purchased a few of their courses from Udemy (they had a sale over Xmas $19 and I am on a tight budget). They have great talks/learning here too that you can access upon joining the Dojo (definitely something I want to do when I am able). I try to look at all of this as a personal investment in my professional development and I get to learn cool things :grin:
One thing I found very helpful was joining our local Meetup groups here in Brisbane. I currently belong to software testing, agile and golang dev group. It’s just great meeting people face to face, that have a similar mindset. Your very welcome to check out my blog page and feel free to reach out if you wish in the future.

(Sara) #18

Thanks! It’s good to know there are others treading this same path. I am looking into local meet-ups here in Philly and plan to attend one once the temperature here climbs above freezing :grin:

(Kim) #19

Freezing… here in Brisbane our days range from hot to hot again. Thank goodness for the pool and aircon :grinning:

(James Thomas) #20

Despite being a nerd from an early age, I never expected to be in an IT role when I was still at school. I decided against doing ICT at A Level because I thought that GCSE ICT wasn’t challenging or interesting enough and assumed that the A Level course would be more of the same. In hindsight, I’m not sure why I didn’t consider Computer Science, but for some reason I chose other subjects that had no relation to computers!

After 6th form I did a Music degree; I’ve never been much of a performer, but I enjoyed the history, analysis and theory parts of the subject so luckily I was able to focus on that. During the last year of my degree I was a volunteer ‘Production Assistant’ for an opera company, which led me to being put in charge of marketing and comms the following year while I was looking for work. I tried to get into Arts Marketing off the back of this experience (and my degree!), but it’s a competitive industry made even more difficult by post-recession cuts to arts budgets.

Anyway, from there I got a marketing/admin job for a tiny desktop software company, in the last month of that role I was seconded into a testing role to help get the Mac release out of the door which I really enjoyed. When I moved up North I applied for a testing job with a digital agency and I was the winning candidate. Since then I’ve worked for two more consultancy/agency-type firms, still in a testing role.

As for what’s next… who knows?