A Tester’s Expected Learning and Unexpected Challenges Voyage

After graduating from Engineering in 2012, like many freshers, I happened to have no job offer in hand. On usual grounds like all freshers, I was running behind job referrals reached out to my college seniors to enter into the Tech world, but unfortunately, none worked. Today I have been promoted to a Senior QA Engineer role in the firm I work. This made me recollect on my last 8 years of Testing journey and how I ended up in this role. So here I’m to share my lessons learned and at the same time, showcase the challenges I faced in my career path.

Tester’s Journey

Like many Testers quote “I ended up in the Testing field accidentally”, my story is not the same. I don’t fall in that category, after graduating when I was in search of jobs, a well-wisher suggested that I do some Testing courses in the meantime while searching for a job. This landed me at “SEED Infotech” to pursue a course “Diploma in Software Testing”, it was a 3-month long course and I happily enjoyed every bit of the training provided by the institute and this fascinated me to look for jobs in the Testing domain in my leisure time. But there too my fate played its heroic role, I got an offer from a well know MNC but the project I was tagged to was ETL based Maintenance project although my interest was in Testing. With all confusion and in a freshers mindset I was not willing to drop the offer, hence accepted the offer and got into the role that was in my hand at that time. But to my surprise, the first assignment that was given to me was a Migration activity which was Testing the reports migrated using the ETL tools. Too much of my interest I started on it and gave my best in that 6 months of initial assignment. Gradually in the same project being a fresher small Testing activity for any CR which Seniors would develop was given to me, and that’s how life was going about in my 1st IT firm. 

Lessons Learned and Challenges

Now that I started to share my career entry point story, let me now focus on the important areas of the Lessons learned and challenges I faced during these first innings of my Tech Life.

First Innings Lesson Learnt - Minor things matter

Minor things matter

During my initial days of the Testing journey, being a newbie to catch up with the Seniors in the team was a challenging task for me. This triggered me to document even little things at work. Like all testers, I prefer exploring the application/system under test more than writing test scenarios, test cases, bug tickets. Yet, documentation had become an important part of my role as a Tester. Writing detailed descriptions about any bug has helped the development team debug the issue easily. Also writing detailed test cases has helped other Testers onboarding the project to know the system well. Additionally, preparing the system documentation enabled me to ask questions and be curious regardless of how insignificant you think the question is. Taking note of minor things, triggered a fruitful habit in me of noting down the question that seemed substantial to myself, this enabled me to uncover something missed, undefined, or any critical topics at a later part.

First Innings Challenges - Mental Health is foremost needed in any place that you work

Nowadays Workplace Bullying has become an instrument to impel employees to vacate from a firm with one’s own accord. Its evident truth that the way in which bullies behave can turn a friendly environment into a fearful atmosphere. It took 8 long years for me to become bold enough to speak in this area, thanks to Brijesh Deb, whom I consider as my mentor to inbuild this courage in me through his powerful LinkedIn posts. 

Mentally-Healthy-Workplace

Every now and then an employee is being bullied in the workplace, it’s a sad reality and I too have been a victim at one point. In the beginning, it was difficult for me to perceive the intended meaning of what was happening. The bullying I experienced triggered as remorseless remarks then progressively moved to a lonesome and fearful atmosphere. It all happened when a task was given to me and I was not able to do it as expected. Being a Fresher at that point of time I expected some mentorship from my Senior Mates at work, who could have assisted me to improve my work but rather I was given a backfire with a strong statement that “If you cannot do such technical work why don’t you get married and take care of your family, this better suits you”. Such a statement when it comes from a Senior member in the Team or the Team as a whole, the option of who to confide in becomes limited. In turn, I was isolated, battling a mix of emotions from feeling embarrassed, frightened, and left alone in the air of despondency. 

Although for the bully it would not make him feel guilty that he harmed me that day, for him, it was just a simple strong statement that he made, but for me, it hampered my mental health. Days passed by and I was surviving in that environment experiencing the bullying now and then due to personal family commitments, but to some extent, I couldn’t take it up and I decided to quit that place, YES I QUIT MY 1st JOB. Outwardly I framed the reason for quitting my job as a personal reason but the actual reason for quitting my job was to save myself from the mental illness that I was going through at that time. Harmful, targeted behavior to fellow Employees happens in almost all professions, yet it’s one of the most unvoiced chapters. That ends my first innings of Testing journey which was filled with learnings as well as challenges. 

My next innings started freshly when I met my soulmate and moved to Malaysia along with him. After being prey to Workplace Bullying it took ample time for me to gather all my confidence back again and resume my career freshly. With my soulmates’ support and by God’s grace I overcame my mental illness and landed into a good firm, got an amazing project and friendly team who encouraged and stood side by side in all the work I did. This enabled me to know my aura of reassuring solidity and foibles. Gradually for career advancement and after serving for a few years in that firm, I switched to another fast-growing firm “Billennium IT Services Sdn. Bhd.”. This switch of work was a life-changing moment in my 8 years of testing travel log. It’s rightly said that Companies can bring out the best in you as well as Companies can push you to the worst ground level. So now let me share my second innings lessons learned and challenges.

Second Innings Lesson Learnt

1. Test your software from the customer perspective

Gone are the days of just verifying the applications and their quality against technical specifications. A piece of a script may function as specified however, when the whole application is within the hands of the user, it can be confusing. What’s needed here is a change of mindset towards validating the application rather than just verifying, which focuses on knowing whether or not the software under test satisfies the user’s wants.

Customer-Experience-Testing

Organizations need to stop focussing on whether a build works or not. In its place, they need to implement a way of testing that understands how users interact with software. Companies that ignore Customer-Centric testing techniques and continue creating acceptance criteria will quickly discover that their users have been moved to their competitors without any hesitation. 

Customer experience testing goes beyond usability testing, in other terms, customer journey testing considers everything your target user goes through because it is everything that a user would hear, see and touch throughout the exposure to the product. Understanding how the users will play around with the software is crucial, in making the best customer experience and delivering a quality business outcome. Merely checking if an application works must be eradicated and replaced with a user-focussed approach. To know and understand this better, it took 8 years of Testing journey for me.

2. Happy Employees mean Healthy Firms

If you have a happy supporting working environment, you can achieve various things in your career path. “Billennium IT Services Sdn. Bhd.” is one exemplar of many Employers who take care of the well-being of their employees. It enabled and gave me space to explore different flavors of testing, supporting my learning curves. Within a year I was able to finish two Certifications from ISTQB which was a longtime desire being a Tester. Today I’m ISTQB® CTFL and CTAE, this is only because of a supportive Employer that I witnessed in my Testing journey.

Happy Employees mean Healthy Firms

Being happy at work means thoroughly enjoying what you do at work and exploring different areas out of your comfort zone with a fearless attitude. On the other hand, happy employees will care about their company and drive it towards the growth pathway with utmost dedication at work.

Second Innings Challenges - Challenges turned into Opportunities for Growth

The major challenge in my Second Innings was the COVID19 pandemic. In times of struggle, having a tough spirit becomes an asset to convert the challenges into opportunities. Work from Home culture seemed a big challenge during the initial days of the pandemic hit, but later this seemed more flexible and rather fruitful in my career path. 

Community Contribution is one area where I wanted to step in for a long time but this hit me only during the pandemic days. The leisure time after working hours enabled me to spend time analyzing and joining the ever-growing communities like “The Test Chat Community”, “Synapse QA – Learn | Share | Grow”, “testing tech news(ttn)”. Now I’m connecting and engaging with great people who are highly skilled in the Testing domain, this has enlightened my learning curve to a great extent. Not only this pandemic has opened many fruitful doors, even if you have a supportive Employer another important factor that is needed in the learning path is enough space and time to deep dive into the area you need to withstand, pandemic enabled this, and I could prepare and clear two ISTQB Certifications in a year, which was a long time desire being in the Testing field. 

Community Contribution and Mentoring

Along similar lines, another area that I got a chance to put my legs on is Mentoring people in need through the “Mentoring Club” a non-profit company. Now I have many mentees who are more like a family to me and I was happy enough to help and guide them in areas I can. All such elbow rooms opened in the challenging days of COVID19. Thanks to the pandemic… 

Finally, I would like to thank everyone I have worked or collaborated with…

Thank you

For me, the best part of being a Tester is that we are DOORKEEPERS to stay at the entrance of a System gate to prevent or catch hold of unwanted things to enter the System premises. This 8years of Testing journey enabled me to meet different flavors of people and learn many fruitful things in life. To add to that, being able to converse and collaborate with the wider Testing community has taught me more than I could ever read or study about.

Cheers to the future years lined up in my Testing journey ( ͡❛ ‿͡❛ )

Happy Testing! Happy Learning!

Know Our Writer

Jency Stella

Senior QA Engineer

I'm Jency 'The Software Tester' and I have been investigating the line between Software and Testing for the past 8years. My love affair with 'Software Testing' began years ago. Starting from a 'ETL Test Engineer' to currently 'Senior QA Engineer' in the role of a passionate 'API Tester' at "Billennium IT Services (M) SDN. BHD.". I love to spend my time exploring the concepts and interesting facts about Software Testing. My BLOG "A Software Tester's Blog" (https://softwaretestingcafebyjency.blogspot.com/p/about-me.html) is a space all about a Tester's Tech Work-Life sharing. Other interesting facts about me - MOM of a 3year old Superhero | Certified Tester | Mentor | Blogger | Community Contributor.

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