A Fledging Career As A Software Tester

Once the training was over I had a brief wait for a client interview, which I eagerly awaited wanting to put these new found skills into practice. Once the day of the interview rolled round I discovered that there were 2 roles available but myself and 3 of my classmates had all been called in for interviews. I found myself with mixed feelings discussing the role with them the night before as I wanted to wish them luck, but also not enough that I’m unsuccessful. I arrived early and settled my nerves. I was greeted by the 2 test leads for the project and went on a brief tour of the offices and was given an overview of the current project and the role available. I found the interview to be an overall positive experience, in which all of us seemed at ease and relaxed; a comforting sign in what can be a stressful experience. My gut feeling from the day turned out to be correct as I was successful and would start as soon as the paperwork was cleared.

I then found myself on the morning of my first day, a first day in a new career as a software tester. I had had trouble sleeping due to both nerves and anticipation as to what awaited me. I started a commute that would soon become routine and found myself waiting in the same reception as the day of the interview. I was greeted by one of the test leads that had interviewed me and he soon put me at ease and made me feel welcome. I was given a quick introduction to the rest of the team as well as being shown to my desk, my new home in this foreign building. The calm introduction was soon broken though, normality kicked in and I was following along to the weekly team meeting. It was here that I realised that whilst I had been given the skills to work a ‘guideline’ project, businesses have their own terminology and shorthand that I would have to learn for each individual project. The rest of the first day was really straight forward and relaxed allowing me to understand how the office and their systems worked. I was given access to the relevant areas of the computer system and left to work my way through all the training guides they had available.

The testing team was a mixture of trained software testers working alongside some business testers, these where people that had came into the project from the wider business in order to test for business specific areas that may be over looked by those that don’t use the BAU procedures. During my first week when I was struggling to get a hold on the business terminology and acronyms that were being used, one of the business testers had put together a ‘cheat sheet’ which became my bible during this early period.

Everything went smoothly and my confidence went from strength to strength. A biweekly catch-up was set up with one of the test leads, simply for us both to ensure there aren’t any issues and to generally have a chat. The main thing I will remember from the placement was how welcoming and friendly everyone was. From the start if I had any questions everyone on the team made themselves available to hear them and answer them as best as they could, with efforts being made on all levels to incorporate me as part of the testing team. Social drinks became a semi regular occurrence which lead to these bonds being strengthened into friendships and contacts, which can be called upon at a date further down my career.

The role was technically quiet low level, involving no automation or testing tools, which was a nice gentle start to an unknown environment. ALM software was used to track and manage the defects, whilst also allowing reports to be quickly produced. On reflection the training allowed me to have the confidence to walk into the role and know that I possess the skills to perform what is asked, however a testers must remember that the real working world doesn’t always follow the ‘perfect’ rules laid out in the training guides. Much like when you learn to drive a car and your hands are positioned perfectly on the wheel but soon slip to more comfortable positions, these rules and guidelines can be bent and flexed to fit the project but care must be taken to not get to relaxed so that it becomes dangerous and corners are cut, increasing the risk assigned to the task or project.

As I sit here typing this, researching further into testing methods and tools available, as well as general industry practices, I eagerly look forward to my next role and my next project. This placement and this experience is simply the first step down a road towards software testing and the wider IT industry.

By Rob Whitehouse, Sparta Trainee