Career Advice for Entry-Level Software Testers

By Aqueelah Grant

One of my college buddies reached out and asked if I could give his younger sister career advice as she is a newbie to the software testing industry.

Here’s the advice I gave her…..

Distance yourself from negative people

One of the dangers newcomers face in any industry are “broken” and “settled” employees. You will find that these naysayers won’t always be people at work. They could also be friends or family members who may mean no real harm and are only speaking from their personal experiences. These are the people who constantly tell you about miserable experiences and not one story of how they prevailed. Others so settled in their spot that they wonder why you’re trying to learn new things or enhance a process.

Now these won’t be the only people you meet but if you do meet them you need to be able to identify them. This does not necessarily mean completely stay away, it just means learn how to keep them at bay as there are times when some advice may come in handy. We all have stories of experiences that were not so favorable to us, some of which we’ve possibly brought on ourselves, however someone who’s been in an industry for a while should know how to be versatile. Check resumes before you take advice from people. Most importantly, understand that people can’t give you hope if they have none themselves.

Don’t just be tech, be business

Don’t solely focus on the technical aspect of software testing, understand the business aspect as well. Most people join organizations for field experience but have no real clue in regards to what the company actually does other than that script they memorized for the interview.

Make sure you understand what company branding and personal branding is. To keep things simple, company branding is how a company positions themselves in an industry in order to stand out from their competitors. As an example, if you’ve noticed lately, a lot of companies on Yelp are tracking down customers who give them bad reviews. That’s because these reviews can hurt their branding and can cause the consumers to seek out business from their competitors.

Personal Branding is how you as an individual are positioning yourself to stand out from other employees in an industry. As an example, if you have a tech blog where you give tips, you are branding yourself in that industry. If you allow someone to give you a recommendation on LinkedIn they are helping you brand yourself. Also learn how not to be a robot and how to communicate with real people.

A great Software Tester can speak to people on many levels. Here’s an article I wrote about the traits of a great software tester — “Number 1 reason to become a Software Quality Assurance Professional“.

Know both manual and automation testing

Build your foundation from the ground up meaning ensure that you understand manual software testing because in order to automate a process you first need to know the manual process. Understand that everything can not be automated so no matter what, a manual process will still be necessary.

When it comes to automation don’t get overwhelmed with all of the various automation frameworks. Starting off, you should focus on at least one. A good first start is Selenium IDE which is a browser plugin, click and record tool. It allows you to actually edit your scripts for practice instead of having to create from scratch.

Learn as much as you can on your own time. Some companies will be willing to teach you automation and others may want you to come in already knowing it. Even if a company is not solely focused on automation someone who has automation experience may have one up on someone who does not. If you truly want to be an automation tester never allow yourself to get put in a manual tester box as it may be hard to get out.

Network with others

Connect with like-minded people such as co-workers, former co-workers, friends, or family members who share the same interest. Join meetups and member organizations and help to diversify them. You should join QA meetups but ensure that you join development meetups as well.

Learn all you can about how developers work and think. This will allow you to have a better relationship with them in the workplace. Depending on how your organization is structured, you will work closely with developers. Whether a Developer is tough to deal with or not, if you know your stuff, you will make a solid contribution to the SDLC (Software Development Life Cycle).

You’ll often hear about the friction between QA and Development but the truth is great developers actually appreciate a good defect. When it comes to QA and Development both teams work well together when they put the software product before egos. If there is too much friction that is most likely an issue within the organization that may need to be resolved on a “higher level”. Either way, do everything you can to connect with your role as a software tester.

Show Confidence

Don’t always sit and be quiet if you have ideas. When you project those ideas speak loud and clear. Sometimes it can be scary to speak up but understand that it’s even scarier for your career in the long run if you don’t. Sharing your ideas and seeing how people react to them is a way of finding out if the company is right for you. While every idea may not be accepted, if you’re at a company that is right for you, you will still feel that your opinion was valued. When you’re around the right people and they see your worth they’ll help guide you.

Accept Challenges that may not be in your job description!

If something benefits you, even if it is not in your job description, do it! Try not to be the employee that constantly says, “That’s not my job”. You may miss out on good opportunities to shine. Also remember that certain positions at work may be offered up to you because people believe in you or think you are responsible. Seize every opportunity you can to learn and grow.

Remember to always be thankful and say “thank you”. Be thankful for the moments that you are counted in and even the moments, that you are counted out because eventually you will…”Be so good, they can’t ignore you.”

Originally published at

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