How I got into Software Testing during College
Just over a year ago, I got contracted to a company, and I’m still goofing around over there. Even though I recently graduated as a software engineer, I’ve found a passion for software testing. An interesting choice some might say, and yes, it is! However, this year has taught me that my knowledge as a developer is highly valuable as a tester. But that is not all, my first full year as a technical software tester has taught me much more.
First, allow me to tell my tale to give you an insight into the events that occurred prior. I started studying software engineering at a university in September 2014. However, I wasn’t cut out for university. The style of teaching didn’t suit me. I wanted to build; not to nose in the theory books and do maths. So, I switched to a more hands-on study. The start was horrible, to put it bluntly. The school didn’t fulfill the promises they made, they put me in the wrong semester, and the group projects were downright terrible. There was only one group project that actually went well, and later became the start of my current career.
Planting the Seed
The 3rd semester (by then it was February 2017) was by far one of the best semesters I had. It was in this semester that we learned about unit testing. My teacher planted the seed for my interest in software testing during class. He had a great sense of humour. One day, he was explaining what it takes to be a software tester.
This quote immediately clicked with me and made writing unit tests a whole lot more fun. Whenever I wrote software, I started thinking of the tests that I would perform. What would happen if I write my name in a phone number field? Many of my classmates would tell me that I was nuts.
Classmate: “Don’t you see it says phone number on top of the textbox?”
Me: “Yeah, so? Wouldn’t it be awful if your whole application breaks because some brat thinks he’s funny by trying to put his name in the phone number field? What if your user is unable to read. Or he misreads the label and thus accidentally puts his name in the field? There are countless scenarios I can think of where this could happen!”
Often, my classmate would shake his head and call me an idiot. They seem to think that it’s a trivial issue, but that’s the whole thing about software testing. It is thinking of these edge cases and ensuring that, no matter what happens, the software keeps running. These mistakes can cost serious money, especially when we’re talking about big companies and critical systems. I had figured that out during college already, but my peers didn’t seem to understand.
Stroke of Luck
During each semester, I had to do a group project. My experience with these projects is far from good since every project so far has ended in chaos. However, during this 3rd semester, I finally had a group project where the members worked well together. So, our project went splendidly!
We had a workshop about halfway the semester from a company in the software testing field about code analysis tooling. Our task was to use and apply the tooling in our group project and present the results during our final grading event. At this event, a few members of the company that gave us the workshop also graded the group projects.
I had a good talk with one of the employees about software testing, and I got intrigued by the stories he told me. So, the next day, I asked one of my teachers if I could have the email address of their contact at the company. The same day, I sent out an open application for a side-job, because I was still a student and attending college full time. To my surprise, the same person I had been talking to replied to my email! They asked for my phone number and told me that someone would contact me shortly.
Two phone calls and two weeks later, I had my first interview. Immediately, it clicked between the manager and me. There was only one catch: for the side-job, I’d have to be at the office, which was quite impossible as I was still studying full time at college. So, instead, he said: “When you have to do an internship later in your studies, be sure to contact me!”
Taking the Opportunity
And so I did half a year later. I had gotten into a weird school construction, but the gist of it is the following. I didn’t pass the 4th semester, but it was only because of one course. So, instead of having to do the entire semester over, the school lets you focus on that one course. I was fed up with the school system and being at school. So, I did what no student had done before: I managed to arrange a mini internship. Two days a week, I’d work at a company, and the other three I’d be at school. I still remembered the offer from the manager, so I sent him an email explaining my plan. Less than a month later, I started my mini internship.
I discovered that a work environment worked out way better for me than being at school.
The semester flew by, and before I knew it, I had to arrange a spot for my 5th-semester internship. Of course, I checked with the school if it was alright for me to continue my internship at this company. They gave me the go, and after a one month holiday, I was back at the office to continue my work on the project I had started during the mini internship. The assignment this time was a lot more complicated even though I was building on the previous project. However, I completed the internship, almost with the highest marks.
I discovered that a work environment worked out way better for me than being at school. I learned more, I did more, and in general, my motivation skyrocketed. My passion for software testing increased, and it allowed me to be critical to the software I wrote. I even enjoyed writing the unit tests, ever heard a developer say that?
After my internship, I got a contract at the company and started working as a software tester while continuing college. “You’ll have to graduate otherwise no contract for you”, was the gist of it and I agree with that. It took a little while to find the first job for me, but eventually, I got one for three months at an insurance company. After those three months, I took a month of summer holiday.
That’s how I got into Software Testing
A mere week after my holiday, I got contracted to another company for some simple work: adding test cases to Azure DevOps. I know this seems like a mindless task, and indeed there are better tasks for a young and aspiring tester. However, don’t underestimate the power of these simple tasks. If you can show them what you’re made of, even with jobs like these, your career can skyrocket even further. And that’s how I’m still contracted to the same company, now just over a year later. Believe me, I’ve learned a lot in the past year, but more on that next time as that’s a post in and of itself.
Even though I’m a software tester, I still keep development close to my heart. That’s why I’m still working hard to create my own operating system. Interested to learn more? Check out my other articles!