Lessons Learned: A year in Testing and Quality Assurance

A year of rich technical and life experiences!

I started my first job as a Software Quality Assurance Engineer, exactly a year ago. It has been a wonderful year. In a tech company of about 20–25 employees and working as the sole QA Engineer, I learned more than I ever expected. Below, I am going to summarize my experiences and lessons learned.

You never know if you would love a job/work unless you really dive into it

I do not recommend going into a job without having any interest in it or without doing your homework about what the work is. But, despite all your homework and prior knowledge, you don’t find out a lot of things until you get the first-hand experience. Newcomers usually think testing is all about finding bugs and breaking things. While that is true, it is only half of the truth. Testing is also about testing the same thing over and over again for many days. It tends to get boring and you have to put in extra effort to maintain your focus.

Working for a year teaches you more than studying for 4 (or more) years

Usually, software testing courses taught at universities are inadequate to equip the student with all the required knowledge. I although, was fortunate enough that the course I took covered all the concepts and all the widely used tools. Even then, working taught me a lot more than studying. One of the main reasons is being around experienced individuals. These people have been in the industry for a longer time than you have and you always benefit from their experience. Another reason is the sense of responsibility and accountability at work that ensures you give your best because you are doing this work for real people and real businesses can be affected if you don’t do your work right.

Testing and Quality Assurance are (wrongly) used synonymously

Although these two are essentially different concepts but very often, these two are used interchangeably and a majority of the people can’t tell them apart. “Quality Assurance Engineer” is the buzz job title for a tester’s job these days. Neotys perfectly describes the difference as

I have seen many companies confusing the two and using the title of QA Engineer for Software Testers. There needs to be more awareness about the difference among the two.

Monetary compensation is not everything

A good package is the first thing that attracts a fresh graduate. But, as you start spending some time at your workplace, you realize that money is not everything. Money only fulfills your safety needs (Maslow’s Hierarchy of Need). A good work environment, a good team lead, and healthy team activities fulfill your belonging needs. And when you get to learn something new or achieve a reward for your performance, that’s when your esteem needs are satisfied which no money can fulfill.

Try out new things

Your main job might be to manually test the app, you should still go ahead and get your hands dirty with some automation. Try different tools. Be on the lookout for new tools. Challenge the procedures your team is following and suggest new ones. Don’t hold yourself back. Follow blogs. Start your own blog. A podcast. You never know when you stumble upon something that gives a new twist to whatever you are working on or give you an idea of a lifetime.

Go beyond the job description

Do NOT stay limited to the job description. If you were hired as a tester to find bugs, don’t stop there. Find ways to fix it. Suggest it to the developers. Give your input about features. Try out development. Where I work, there is a lot of work around the areas of Data Science and Machine Learning. I have been doing data analysis part time for a while now and it has helped me learn a lot and learning something always helps you go a long way even if it might not be relevant to you at that time.

The Weekend

You start loving weekends way more than you ever did in your entire life. There will be phases when you would feel out of place, extremely irritated or demotivated. Weekends are a special treat for days like that. Even if you have been fortunate enough to never have experienced that, still weekends are a bliss because 9am to 6pm, Monday to Friday has the dreadful ability to drain you of all your energy and even productivity (even if you absolutely love your work) and weekends provide that much-needed break to recharge again.

Work life feels terrible in the beginning.Monday is a special nightmare. But once you start settling in, it is not as bad. It takes some time to figure out what you’re doing, where you stand and where you are headed. In time, you develop an affection for the routine, the morning coffee, the much-deserved table tennis break and well-earned sleep at night after a hard day at work. The feeling of being productive makes it all worth it.

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Originally published at qafrenzy.wordpress.com on August 31, 2016.