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Testing Bliss (aclairefication)

On April 3, 2012, in Syndicated, by Association for Software Testing
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It’s no secret: I adore testing software. It’s my weapon of choice, despite having happened upon it by chance many moons ago. (What other career transforms forgetfulness and clumsiness into strengths since they result in unexpected, non-happy path usage? Ultimately, I think it’s the variety that keeps me coming back for more on a daily basis.)

Given my feelings about testing, it came as no surprise to me that others would agree and rate this profession highly, whether on CareerBliss or elsewhere, as reported by Forbes. (I’ll also admit to having been a bit of an I/O Psych nerd back in the day, so this survey appeals to me in various ways.) I can’t seem to leave my curiosity at the door, so I had to go see for myself what questions were used as the basis of this data. (Yes, HR folks, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)

With categories like Company Culture, Work-Life Balance, The Place You Work, The People You Work For, The People You Work With, It’s Party Time!, Work Freedom, and Growth Opportunities, it almost felt like attending a company meeting at my current employer. (Did I mention we’re hiring a developer for my team?)

I was curious to see whether other testers had the same reaction to the questions used to generate the data that CareerBliss analyzed, so I culled out 5 questions of at-most-140-characters designed to find out.

  • Q1) Which people at work most affect your happiness: co-workers, boss, CEO?
  • Q2) How does the level of challenge in your work influence your feelings about your testing job?
  • Q3) Is there a job-provided perk/reward/tool that keeps you happy as a tester?
  • Q4) As a tester, do you have a good balance of freedom and growth?
  • Q5) How does the support at work make testing a great career?

Check out the storify-ed version of our #testchat on Twitter.

Not everyone has the same experience of software testing and my experience has certainly changed over time. I wanted to take a moment to consider the various aspects of software testing that the article identified:

  • requirements gathering – been there, done that both before and after implementation
  • documentation – frequent contributor, sometimes sole author
  • source code control – only for my automation code, but I didn’t set it up myself
  • code review – if you consider pairing with a developer on code during a sprint, then I’ve tried it and with some success
  • change management – not so much, though we did have a composition book in the testing lab to log all hardware changes to a system I worked on; sometimes it was more like a log of who I should hunt down to get the hardware back…
  • release management – the closest I get to this is being able to deploy to my cloud test environment and boy am I happy about that
  • actual testing of the software – bread and butter for me

I love having been involved in the entire software development process at various times during my career. (I’ve even prototyped some UI ideas, though I wouldn’t call that an area of strength or concentration. Glad to have those UXers on board these days!) I do feel that I’m an integral part of the job being done at the company. I am quite happy that my job involves frequently working with people.

However, I do take issue with this being presented as a positive aspect of the job:

software quality assurance engineers feel rewarded at work, as they are typically the last stop before software goes live

Doesn’t that smack of Gatekeepers to Quality to you? I don’t ever want to set up an adversarial relationship with my developers that says I need to defend the users against their disregard, and I don’t want to be involved only at the end as a last stop before kicking a product out the door. I know that happens at times but it’s not my preference. Positive personal interactions and preventative measures certainly contribute to my testing bliss.

Take the survey yourself at CareerBliss and let me know how your experience compares!

I’ll be analyzing the tagged responses from Twitter over on Techwell soon!

Here is some related reading that has come up in recent days:

Q3) Is there a job-provided perk/reward/tool that keeps you happy as a tester?

Jon Bach on tools for testing

Ajay Balamurugadas on tools for testing

Q5) How does the support at work make testing a great career?

Horizontal careers: “each of us will need to overcome our personal assumptions about moving up the career ladder, and think more about how we add value across.”

Scott Barber disagrees

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