Journey Of Becoming a Software Tester Part2: Say hello to Mela

qa_journey2

In our first ‘say hello’ blog, we heard from our Senior Manual Tester, Viki. This time it’s the turn of Mela, another of our skilled testers here at Digital Natives.

Mela’s story is one of hard work and dedication, which she has continued to show throughout her ten years of industry experience. Are you ready to say hello?

Hi, I’m Melinda, but you can call me Mela. So, let’s start at the beginning!

After finishing High School I trained in customer care, before landing a job with a telecommunication company as a Customer Care Representative.

I liked my job, I really loved helping people and my experience there has taught me how to handle difficult customers. Most interestingly, I gained lots of insight into the way users think, and this is still super helpful for my work as a tester. There are lots of transferable skills which you might not consider relevant at the time, but work hard in all of your jobs and you will discover how those skills translate once you start on your chosen career path.

Later, I worked as a Premium Contact Centre Representative, but the role wasn’t a big challenge. Not anymore.

Around the same time, a great opportunity came my way. It was within the same telecommunications company and the job title was ‘Application Support and Testing Specialist’. I was very motivated, I was young, and I had a lot of energy — so I thought let’s try it!

The recruitment process was long and complicated with various tests and interviews. Being so young meant that I was inexperienced when it came to formal interviews and I didn’t perform very well. The stakes were high and I really wanted this job.

I failed to convince the Head of Department that I was right for the position but fortunately, the other interviewer believed in me, so I got the job!

It wasn’t long before I had an excellent mentor supporting me every step of the way — a self-confident and a strong woman in the IT area. She mentored me well, but despite all my efforts I couldn’t keep up. There was just too much new information, too much to learn and too much responsibility.

I was so young (and a blonde female!), with very little experience so I wasn’t taken seriously. The first two or three months were extremely tough and I received some very harsh feedback from my boss, which made me come to my senses. It was time to pick myself up and make some changes.

With a new found determination, I dived in head first. I tried to be self-confident and brush off what the developers and managers thought about me. I asked questions if I didn’t understand something, and repeated it until it became clear. Slowly, I noticed people’s opinions were changing, they took me seriously and I noticed that they consulted with me on complex issues. In half a year I became one of the best — those weren’t my words, but the words of my very strict ex-boss. Finally, I had started to enjoy my new job.

This was the beginning and my love for my job has been unbroken ever since.

I became so confident in my position that I felt irreplaceable. I wasn’t. The economic crisis hit and I lost my job. I was broken. With two years of experience, I wasn’t needed anywhere, because I didn’t have an IT degree. (I’ve written a blog post about this topic before, you can read it here)

Finally, I came across an unknown startup which was growing fast and they gave me a chance to prove that I was an excellent tester.

It was a great period of my life. I got a lot of opportunities to learn about testing and I passed the ISTQB (International Software Testing Qualifications Board) exam.

I loved the startup environment and the mindset, and it was a pleasure to meet with highly qualified people. We became good friends and I am still grateful for everything I learned there.

A few years later the company stopped being a startup and there was a significant cultural shift which I didn’t like, so there I was again faced with another difficult decision.

Fortunately, I had a friend who was working at Digital Natives. The company had never had testers before, and my friend invited me to join as the first QA, so I quit my previous job and started work at Digital Natives.

Digital Natives is a web development agency with lots of multinational clients, and it had eight years of experience when I joined. I worked hard to prove that QA was a profitable offering and that it was an essential part of agency’s life. That was almost three years ago. Now there are three testers at here and we’re sold full time on client projects. Why? In part, I believe, because software quality has become more important.

It’s true, becoming a QA and growing your career isn’t easy, but if you’re passionate about it, you will fly…

Want to hear more from Mela?

Mela has written about Introducing automated tests written by a QA, as well as How to rock automated tests as a QA and How to become a QA tester.

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