An unexpected story

This is not the story you were waiting for. I was supposed to continue talking about testing methods with basic examples. However, I need to tell a different story. I want to tell you the story of the “Test Bash”, my first test conference.

I heard that attending conferences could do good to you and your career. I thought if they exist, they would be specific and far away.

One day I read about the test bash. The content looked interesting and on my field, but I thought it was a lot of money to spend to attend, even thought it was happening in the uk and that is a short trip from Ireland, where I live.

I am contracting now, so everything needed to come from my own expenses. However, I was extremely lucky and they decided to do some discounts for people like me. I was still not sure whether to go, it was the last ticket that I purchased.

And there I was: suddenly on my way to Brighton, no idea where to go from the train station, and knowing nobody there… Finally, an adventure!

First of all, I started looking at all the meetups relating to test happening in Brighton in the time I was there. There was one just after I arrived. So I went to this pub, directly after checking in the hotel, introducing myself to total strangers, expecting to be in a corner trying to eardrop some interesting conversation … But to my surprise, I was immediately taken in and involved in many of those, just as the regulars.

The three questions:

There were three topics I brought up often in the conversations:

1) Do you know of others test conferences worth it to go?

2) What do you think of certifications?

3) Should a tester know programming?

The first one I asked because I started reading about other test conferences and they are usually even more costly than the test bash. I wanted to know other’s experiences to discard or consider further conferences.

What I learned? First of all, my lynx, I was attending to the probably better value/money balanced conferenced in Europe. EuroSTAR is the most known conference in Europe. Ireland have a small community of testers and last year the EuroSTAR was hosted in Ireland! (introduce feline facepaw here)

I also heard about other conferences worth the time and the effort: expoqa (Spain), let’s test (Stockholm), Copenhagen context, Pipeline conference…

The second question I was interested in, had to do with certifications. I do have a good working experience at this point, but some things you cannot get on some jobs and I like learning new things constantly. Unfortunately, most of the people who I spoke to agreed in that if you have good experience, test certifications are irrelevant. It is good to have the istqb if you are just starting in test but other than that I couldn’t find out a certification that everybody was happy about. Interesting. Also, for developers there are plenty of certifications and courses available but the options for testers are quite limited. Interesting again, I’m setting as goal right here and now to dig deeper into this.

The third question, I liked to bring it up because I come from a developer and engineering background and I should be able to go back to it. I wanted to know people’s opinion about testers that know programming or come from an engineer career. To my surprise (and a little of let down for a short while) most of the people I met told me, in different words, that I was overqualified. Even others that came from my same background seemed to have gave up all relationship with code. On the other hand, some people really got interested on this fact about me and most agreed that it could be of advantage to at least know programming. There is still hope.

A handful of people agreed with me in that we need more people with coding capabilities and background and they keep up to date with coding. It is not my intention to scare off anybody without a career in IT, but to bring the attention of people like me that worked hard to get one and doesn’t go into the  testing field because they think they might be overqualified. Not the case, you can choose to do whatever you want to do. Therefore, if your passion is testing, why not to work towards a career on it? Is it peer pressure? Is it about money?

I learned something from my experience: if you like what you are doing, you will be doing a brilliant work. If you are doing a brilliant work, you will be naturally well compensated economically and you will probably not even care about that!

The workshops:

In relation to the workshops and conferences: I wish I could have done them all, but I had to choose between them. They all looked very interesting. Some of them brought more value to me than others, but all of them brought even more interesting conversations.

I learned many things and got many concepts to think about. Some key concepts and tips below:

  • Talk always with all the parties in the development and understand their definition of quality and testing to alienate it with ours.
  • Quality is a team commitment.
  • Translate technical things for the none technical people.
  • Translate non-technical things to the technical people.
  • Setting expectations before a meeting keeps people focused.
  • Job titles are important. I’m going to call myself “Lynx trainer”!
  • There are many places to practice testing, paid projects and live bug bashes. I promise to go through them and talk about them in a separate post.
  • Ask questions.
  • Ask many questions.
  • Ask more questions.
  • Be impeccable with your words.
  • The shorter the releases, the more chances to success and easier rollbacks.
  • Companies change but if you are passionate about what you do, you will always find ways of keep doing it.

There were also many books and topics I should look deeper into. I have been working on all that but I didn’t want to slow down the release of this post even longer and forget about the experience and the feeling.

I could be talking about all of the workshops with detail, but there are many good experienced bloggers out there that are also faster than me and you could learn more about it through them. Besides, those are, well… other stories.

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