Stephen Blower recently published this excellent post about proving your worth as a tester; If you haven’t read it then you should. As well as being struck by the excellent points he was making I was surprised to find that I am more unique that I realised – I actually did choose to go in to Software testing.
I was lucky and discovered that I enjoyed programming during my A-Levels. I went off to university to study Software Engineering. We did lots of programming but testing was never mentioned. Luckily I’m not such a great programmer so without realising it I was doing lots of debugging just to get my assignments to work.
One of the best aspects of my degree was that it was a Sandwich Course that required me to spend a year working in the IT industry. The European job market has a much better grasp of under-grads spending time in industry so I ended up working in Germany. Unfortunately it was within an IT department that outsourced all their development work, they really didn’t really know what to do with a budding developer so I got dumped with the test contractor. Amazing! I had no idea that you could be paid for nit-picking someone else’s software.
After several months of testing I returned to university and used my final year to find out as much as I could about testing. As well as reading books and convincing Mercury to give me free access to their tools (Thanks, Mercury!) I decided to carry out a questionnaire on testing (ok so there were extra marks if you did this but still). By another very lucky chance one of the people I emailed about this survey ran a Testing Consultancy. As well as answering my survey he offered me the chance to do some work experience once I had completed my degree. When I contacted him 6 months later to take up this offer he lined me up for an interview and then offered me a permanent job as a graduate test consultant. I have never looked back.
As well as proving to Stephen that some people actually do choose to become testers (albeit with a lot of fortuitous circumstances) I thought it would be useful to highlight just how important that offer for some work experience turned out to be. If I had been rubbish the company could have easily fobbed me off with a week or two of safe project work. As it was they took a risk and launched my career.
The greatest challenge is identifying people who desperately want to break into testing. Hopefully Twitter and blogs make it easier for the interested tester to actually find out and follow testing but if you spot one then do whatever you can to help them. If you know of universities that teach aspects of testing contact them, maybe you could give a talk on testing or spread the word about tester meet up in the area.
Lets spread the word and open a few doors to the testing industry.