I’m a little late in publishing this installment of the X Years in Testing series. I’d written another version before Christmas, but I didn’t like it and it felt forced. I’ve never been one to write or talk about things that I don’t really want to, and so I decided not to publish it and perhaps forego a third year installment altogether. But I feel like giving it another go, albeit in a slightly different style to previous entries.
I think the theme of this post will be shifting focus, starting with a shift away from my more visible activities.
During my second year of testing, my blogging and speaking activities had an unexpected, enjoyable, and exhausting surge. I did a lot. Too much. When I look back on my third year in testing, I have a habit of thinking that I did less. But when I think again, this isn’t true. I just shifted my focus and did different things.
I did a lot less talks, had some longer periods between blog posts, and stopped checking my Twitter feed altogether. I shifted my focus towards my mental health, learning German, and finding a stable and comfortable place to live (finding accommodation in Munich is very painful, but I got there in the end).
I did a lot of writing and speaking because I wanted to. I started doing less writing and speaking because I wanted to. That doesn’t mean that I don’t want to write or give talks anymore, I just realised that had more immediate or important priorities to attend to. I’m proud of myself both for the visible success that I had in the previous year, and for the success I had this past year in “taking care of home”, and myself.
Another change that I’m very conscious of is the change in subject matter of my blogs, talks, and other discussions. When I first came into testing, one of the reasons I started blogging and taking part in lots of discussions is because I saw gaps in conversations about testing. I had thoughts on testing topics that I hadn’t heard or read anywhere else yet, and I wanted to share them. I loved talking about testing and sharing my own thoughts on it. Makes sense, right?
I still talk about testing and share my thoughts on it, but again, a lot less. My focus has taken a notable shift towards social issues and drawing attention towards the thoughts and experiences of others. My blogs and tweets have a lot more content around diversity, empathy, inclusion, exclusion. Make no mistake, these topics are still very relevant to testing and technology, but I often feel more invested in raising awareness and sharing information in these wider areas than in strictly testing ones.
I talk about what’s important to me and I strongly believe that people working in technology need to develop a better understanding of these topics – not just as people or humans, but as the people and humans who affect the lives of millions of other people, all over the world, with the technology we develop. What we do impacts others in a variety of ways, whether we realise it or not, and that’s why it’s so important to learn about other people’s experiences and consider how what we do, say and create can impact their lives for better or worse.
To this end, I’ll be starting a new personal project – hopefully in the first half of this year – that I’d love for you to get involved in. There’s a sneak peak of more details at the end of this post.
So what does the future hold for me and my fourth year in testing?
I’m pleased to say that this year is already off to a good start. I’ve just started a new project in which I’ll be working in a team with my direct company colleagues (including other experienced testers), working to deliver software together for a client. This is in contrast to previous projects, when I’ve worked directly with the client, as part of their team. It’s a new dynamic, and one that I’m looking forward to.
It’s also my first project where the main language is German. I’m still learning (currently at B1 level), so this is a little daunting. However, it’s something that I think will be really good, as it will force me to use the language more and practise more frequently. Let’s hope that it doesn’t hold me back too much, or for too long!
As well as my new work project, I’m hoping to kick off a new personal project soon: Identity Stories. I had planned to do this for most of last year, but I didn’t have the time or energy to set things up properly. It’s very important to me, so I want to give it the proper time and attention to make it a success.
In a nutshell, Identity Stories is a new series of blogs with a mission to lessen the danger of a single story by sharing diverse personal experiences related to the identities of the writers. As alluded to earlier, the series will focus on social issues and give a platform for other people to share their thoughts and experiences, instead of just sharing my own.
Collaboration is essential for this series, so I’m working on a post that will reveal more and provide details on how to contribute. I want to make sure that the introductory pieces strike the right tone too, so I’ll be asking people to help review them and provide feedback. Stay tuned!
I feel good about what’s to come, and I hope it will be as great as I think it could be.
Can you relate to anything mentioned in this post? Has (and how has) your focus shifted as your career progresses? Let me know in the comments.