June 21, 2016

7 Ways To Get A Head Start On Your Software Testing Career

This is a guest post written by Than Huynh of AskTester.com.

If you’re a newly-minted tester, like I was 10 years ago, this scenario will probably sound very familiar:

You look around and see that experts are everywhere.

You get lost in the world of software testing and don’t know where to start.

(Or maybe you try to take baby-steps, but then end up doubting yourself.)

You only wish someone could walk you through this mess as soon as possible.

I hear you.

In this post, I share 7 ways that can give you a head start in your software testing career.

NOTE: These are not some easy hacks that just give you a quick win. Some of them are really tough to accomplish! But if you persist long enough, they’ll surely bring you the results you want.

Be confident and expose your talent

There’s nothing wrong in being a new tester.

Every veteran or expert in the field was once a beginner. We were all new when starting out.

However, it’s also true that when you’re new, it’s easy for you to feel inferior. If that happens, I suggest you focus instead on these qualities which you should be proud of:

  • You are enthusiastic to learn new stuff
  • You learn things quickly
  • You have fresh mind (so you don’t have to unlearn certain things)

Sounds cool right? So be confident and proud of being a new software tester.

Learn the basics

Software testing field is so big and growing fast. There are always tons of new things to learn every day.

It’s very easy for new testers to get overwhelmed when starting out. You get lost in the latest software testing techniques, terminologies, tools, etc.

Here’s the thing: Don’t try to run before you know how to walk.

Start with the basics to build your foundation first. Once you have a solid foundation, you can then tweak it as you wish or learn more advanced skills.

Keep asking (smart) questions

Actually, managing your software testing career is all about asking the right questions.

  • You ask about how a feature is expected or not expected to work
  • You ask your stakeholders why the feature is designed this way or that way
  • You ask what happens if you do this and then do that

By simply asking smart questions you will uncover more problems in the system under test then by evaluating the answers.

Asking questions is also one the fastest ways to learn things.

So keep asking and keep learning.

Think critically

According to CriticalThinking.org:

“Everyone thinks; it is our nature to do so. But much of our thinking, left to itself, is biased, distorted, partial, uninformed or downright prejudiced. Yet the quality of our life and that of what we produce, make, or build depends precisely on the quality of our thought. Shoddy thinking is costly, both in money and in quality of life. Excellence in thought, however, must be systematically cultivated.”

While critical thinking is crucial in how well you do things, it’s not that easy to practice it because it’s much easier to correct others than having to correct ourselves.

Here’s my secret: I’m not good at critical thinking either… and I’m learning and practicing it too.

I know this sound difficult, but critical thinking is just a skill. Practice it and you will get it.

Start writing and build a blog

If there’s one thing I wish I would have started doing 10 years ago when I started by software testing career was blogging.

There are so many benefits when you blog:

You sharpen your writing skills.

Do I need to stress how important writing skills are in general or software testing specifically? If you have good writing skills, your communication will be more straightforward and effective.

You help yourself learn (and maybe others too)

By consistently blogging, you are building your own library of knowledge. This will become a great source of reference when needed. In many cases, this great source will help others too.

Even though you think what you know is common, not all people know that and your solution can help them too.

Build your personal brand.

If you can consistently write blog and share your knowledge about software testing, people will long run acknowledge you as the authority when they need help.

Here are a few ideas you can blog about:

  • If you are learning something, start writing about what you are learning and how the learning is going
  • If you are good at any skills such as writing test cases, bug report, design test cases, you can start blogging to guide and help other do that too
  • If you know a good book, a website or tips that can help you learn things better, you can blog to share about that
  • If you have nothing to write about, start blogging about that

So, start blogging today and you’ll quickly find out how beneficial blogging can be.

Keep your sense of humor

Do you know what engineers are notorious for?

That they are boooring.

So keep your sense of humor handy at work to make your life as an engineer less boring.

According to Forbes:

“Tasteful humor is a key to success at work, but there’s a good chance your co-workers aren’t cracking jokes or packaging information with wit on a regular basis–and your office could probably stand to have a little more fun.”

Finally, enjoy your journey

Your software testing career is a long journey. It’s a long marathon, not a sprint.

There will be times when you get tired and want to quit.

There will be times when you are at crossroads and you don’t know where to go.

There will be times when you feel like you took the wrong turn.

Whatever happens and whatever decisions you take, remember to enjoy your career as a software tester and explore the world of software testing.

Thanh Huynh is a tester and creator of AskTester. Thanh helps new testers do better testing.

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