It’s strange to think that I’ve been professionally testing for four years already. Time seems to fly by so quickly, and it’s time again to reflect on what’s happened in the last year.
Balance and Priorities
As ever, I’m still working on how to strike the right balance between all the things I want to do, and taking proper care of myself. At the end of last year, I published a post about How to Manage Your Fucks (and Other Coping Mechanisms), which has helped to keep me focussed on what really matters. However, I’ve realised while writing this that, lately, I’ve just been keeping my “FUCKS” board in mind figuratively, and haven’t actually looked at it as much as I could have. As a result, I’ve forgotten some important things on there, so I’m going to make more of an effort to actually look at it. Maybe I’ll also have some of the nuggets of wisdom printed, so I can see them more easily and frequently.
My backlog of things to write and speak about continues to grow, and I feel bad about the topics and people I’ve kept waiting. However, as much as I love to share my knowledge and experiences with others, I’m learning that there are more important things than that, so I’m trying not to give myself a hard time about it. I think I say that every year, but it’s a journey, and I’m making progress.
Last year, I had the idea for Identity Stories – a collaborative blog series sharing diverse, personal stories about identity to lessen the danger of a single story. I’m really glad that I was able to launch Identity Stories this spring, and I’m grateful to everyone who’s submitted so far. Getting submissions is quite a challenge, unfortunately. I want to encourage people to submit, and I especially want to make sure that the writers have diverse backgrounds as well. However, I want to avoid asking specific individuals to submit, as this might put unwanted pressure on people, and undermines the option to submit anonymously. Instead, I’ve taken to telling some people individually that I’d love to read something(s) from them, without actually asking them to do it. I hope that will let people know that I want to hear their stories, without making them feel as if they need to say yes or no. I’m not sure how else to encourage submissions right now, so I appreciate the support from everyone who submits, shares the stories with people, or tells others about the series and how to submit to Identity Stories.
This year, I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to develop my skills in API testing and writing automation. I’d never really worked on a project with either of these before, so it’s been really great to get stuck into both topics, and get hands-on experience too. I don’t learn enough by just reading like others seem to, so I need real projects and contexts to properly understand things and do it myself. I’m really pleased, and a little surprised, by how well I’ve been able to pick these things up. Even my colleagues have commented on how deeply I’ve got into APIs and how quickly I’ve learned to automate. Honestly, I’m not sure why I ever doubted myself, because I’ve always been a quick learner. It feels nice to prove to myself that I can learn about tools and “more technical” topics just as quickly as everything else. The skills are different, but the principles of learning are the same.
In 1 Year in Testing: Then and Now, I talked about how automated checks weren’t really suitable for my context at the time. I like the changes in context that working for a consultancy brings, and I enjoy being able to work in different contexts that call for different solutions. I still don’t plan to have automation take over from exploratory testing as my specialism, but it’s always good to continuously add to your toolkit, and automation is a tool for me, like any other. Still, I always like to do things properly, and I’m learning a lot from my peers about how to write good automation, and good code. And, of course, I’m still teaching them about good testing too. I really like that we all have something to contribute and learn from one another.
I have a few posts about automation planned, so stay tuned for those.
Working in Teams with Other Testers
On that note, the people I’ve worked with this year have been a real highlight. Not only have I finally been able to break away from the “lone tester” designation, but I’ve also been able to work on teams consisting mostly of my direct colleagues, as opposed to being a single person on a client-side team. Not being the only tester on the team gives a different dynamic to both the team, and my own role. One thing that’s been interesting is working out how to share responsibilities between people in a similar role, and I wrote about how to share responsibilities with circles a few weeks ago.
Working with my direct colleagues has been an excellent experience. I’m so impressed by the people we have at MaibornWolff, and it’s refreshing to work with people who are skilled in their own areas of speciality, and are interested in what other disciplines do, and willing to help when possible. We actually work as a team, and testing isn’t seen as a nuisance. I get thanks for my questions instead of eye-rolls. People want to get testers involved as early as we want to be involved. We remain motivated to improve things and strive towards excellence, despite the challenges. It’s a great environment to work in, and I consider myself very lucky. Thank you to everyone I’ve worked with this year, both on and off projects.
Side note: I also got to try Kanban this year, and it was pretty awesome! I can understand why people like it, and would like to see how it works out on more projects, so I can develop a more well-rounded first-hand opinion.
Ever since the shitstorm that is Brexit started, looking into the future has been somewhat difficult for me, since it could have a major impact. However, what I do know is that I will continue to learn and develop, and try to be good to myself at the same time.
On my wish list for next year is to work on a project that involves microservices and observability, and work with some colleagues from my department – DevOps and Cloud Native. I know I could learn a lot from them, but it all depends on projects, of course. As always, there are so many things I’m interested in, and I find it best to focus on what’s relevant to what I’m doing at the time. Who knows what that’ll be next year, but if it’s anything like this one, it’ll be good.
What have some of your highlights been this past year? Let me know in the comments.
One thought to “4 Years in Testing: Then and Now”
My career highlight of the year was presenting at an international conference my company hosted to talk about our product to about 100 power users. It wasn’t so much the presenting itself – I’ve spoken to much bigger audiences in the past – but it was the fact that I also had to demo a brand new application, and getting everything timed right and not fluffing the demo turned out to be much harder than I anticipated.