A Roundabout Way to Testing

Since I took the full leap into testing, what I have realized is that there really isn’t anyone who didn’t take a “roundabout way” to get here. There isn’t a very well-defined path to become a software tester/quality engineer/quality assurance specialist/etc. like there seems to be for other roles in the industry.

I came to software testing by way of software development. After graduating with degrees in Mathematics and Computer Science from a small liberal arts university, I immediately joined a web development team working in Angular and Node (note – my courses had only covered vanilla JavaScript). The company’s onboarding process left something to be desired, so as I muddled my way through user stories and features in an unfamiliar framework with little mentorship, I was desperate to excel at something.

Queue my natural attention to detail and inherent desire to organize and communicate. I started functioning more in a code review / functional testing role on my team and as I contributed more and more value in this way, my confidence started to grow and my interests started to shift.

When I decided to move on from that company, I knew that I wanted to keep my focus on quality and communication and therefore searched for a software testing position instead of another software development one. I ended up landing at a visual communications software company based in my hometown as a Software Test Specialist.

I have spent the time since my transition to full time testing quietly observing the testing community and this is what I have gathered: most of us took a roundabout way to get to testing and the diversity of background in testing is what makes the community so interesting and insightful.

I recently observed a QA engineer share a blog post he spent time and effort crafting, only to have the immediate reactions focus solely on his chosen phrasing instead of on the content of the blog. To focus so critically on the title of a role to the exclusion of content and insight is disheartening and in my opinion not reflective of the diversity of the industry and the members of the community.

And to be quite honest, it’s not very welcoming to new members. I have identified as a software tester for almost two years and have spent that time struggling to find my voice as well as the desire to venture into what I have observed to be a reasonably toxic twittersphere. I have watched twitter threads about nuance go straight to the red zone when I would rather read threads about practices and innovation.

I think the community should spend more time developing ideas and less time fighting about nuanced titles that only make sense in context. As there are so many different routes to get to testing, diversity of thought and phrasing should be expected and celebrated.