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How to Become the MacGyver of Software Testing: Learning from Scratch

There's one tiny difference between the QA team and the general Netguru recruitment requirements that probably swung in my favour. Netguru likes their juniors green. Here's a few words about asking questions, empathy and running around big machines - and it's all about software testing!

I applied to be a Junior Quality Assurance Specialist here 3 months ago. Recruitment for juniors is fairly straightforward at Netguru. Not that many technical skills are required, what counts more is your character and approach to tasks. First up, you need to be bright, open-minded, willing to learn and stay positive. Then, you have to be sharp, passionate about software, with a medium scoop of perfectionism thrown in for good measure! I made it, luckily. There's one tiny difference, though, between the QA team and the general Netguru recruitment requirements that probably swung in my favour.

QAs like their juniors green. The greener they are, the easier they are to mold. Grass green is best and I was as green as it gets.

s3

Yes, I meant that green.

The first day was madness. This was to be expected - a 100+ person company doesn't run on sticky notes alone. Half a dozen tools for communication. Half a dozen more for everything else. Not counting the massive internal wiki. My mentors were always there for me (and they were awesome), but I imagined that babysitting a grown man is not that much of a thrill. By the end of the first week, I’d fallen in love with our internal app for ordering food.

Weeks passed and the first calls with clients were scheduled. Learning to speak up and equally learning when not to speak up was a fantastic eye-opener. Obviously, I made my fair share of mistakes, most of them a result of not following the old ‘asking before doing’ rule. Yet, not only could I ask questions, but I was actively encouraged to ask questions!

There was no one standing over my shoulder patronising or looking down on me. If I didn't know something, all I had to do was ask and the only comeback was that I learnt something. This didn't make my rejected tickets, notes or comments seem any less important, even though I felt like a kid running around a sophisticated construction site, pointing fingers and saying 'this is broken' to the foreman. Being taken seriously felt great, especially for someone as inexperienced as I was. An early communication hiccup caused by a smirk or a snide remark might have killed me off early on.

At the very beginning, I assumed I would be presented with a ‘Way of the QA’ book with pretty pictures, served on a silver plate. After a thorough read, I would sit down and my mind would navigate my fingers to every possible edge case that needed to be taken care of.

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This didn’t happen.

Checklists, extensions, functional notes, documents prepared by your peers are all tools that help you do your work, but the main tools, I learned, are your creativity and curiosity. Finding out how to flex your brain so that you can impersonate every possible user, from a businesswoman looking for a nice spot for vacation, through a teen trying to buy a vid online, to a father trying to organise his life. Breaking things intentionally is easy. Trying to figure out what can possibly interrupt the experience or the workflow of your users, as many users as you can, is your task.

That is when things started to change from my point of view, when I began using empathy during testing. Interesting users make interesting user stories. Being able to provide an example why you think this problem is important, who might be hurt most because of it gives you an edge both with the developer and the client and trust me, there will be situations when you’ll need one. That is when you stop being a tester and start becoming a quality assurance specialist. I still have a lot to experience and learn but everyone out here is helping me, pointing in the right direction, sometimes giving a much-needed push.

s3

Here are my tools of the trade: curiosity, observation, and coffee.

I am writing this at the end of my 90-day long juniorship. The amount of knowledge passed down to me was enormous. At first, I thought it would explode. Figuring my role in web app development (the first mobile project still ahead of me) process and my position in each team was challenging yet precious experience. Help and good advice were always there for me to take, never forced down my throat. All in all, one of the best places to educate yourself.

If my story made you curious about working in the Quality Assurance department, there's good news for you - we keep hiring new members for our team! Stay tuned and drop by our Career page from time to time - you'll find job offers for Quality Assurance Specialists coming soon.

Close cooperation is essential for good software testing. In this post, our Leader QA Specialist shares her thoughts on making QA specialists more efficient by... keeping them happy. Enjoy!

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