Who is a good match for testing? — An interview with Michał Błaszak
In the past few articles on the blog, I’ve been exploring various topics related to work in testing. Today, I’m excited to share the insights of Michał Błaszak, a tester with many years of experience, including 3 years as a Head of Quality Assurance.
What skills are you looking for in testers?
Intelligence and a problem-solving approach are most important for me. Many people who want to join the IT world through testing are focused only on the knowledge you can gain from a certification syllabus, for example. That's not enough, unfortunately. I always say that you can learn things at any time, and it's crucial that you have the ability to deeply understand the meaning of what you learn and ways to implement it in real-life situations. That often requires improvisation and adaptation, which may lead to introduction of brand new standards.
What backgrounds have you seen among testers?
Many of them. Some even really unexpected. I've met testers with backgrounds in biochemistry, economics, or logistics. From my experience — a variety of lab technicians or other people with science background (not related to IT) were usually great candidates with attention to details but also understanding of why processes and procedures are in place. I see that people sometimes try to start their testing journey in companies that produce software for industries they are familiar with. For example, when I had been recruiting testers to a technology company that provides solutions for business travel management, a lot of candidates had experience from widely understood travel industry. Starting from tourism agents, through hotel concierges, even ending at stewardesses or airport staff.
For someone with no IT background, what is the best path to get into testing?
Solve a lot of logical puzzles, and of course study theoretical knowledge related to testing. But also — and maybe above all — learn how the software development process looks as a whole to understand how many layers in the process is the quality assurance implemented. There are many options to test the skills in practice — for example, on crowdtesting platforms or with some help of a mentor. Mentoring is useful, because you can get direct access to practical use cases. Also because people know each other in the industry, and if the mentor is recognizable, it may be, together with previously mentioned points, an advantage for the mentee during recruitments.
What are signs that you will be good at testing?
You'll be a perfect fit if you know you are a quick-learner, problem-solver and you have ability to observe, analyze and improvise. The rest is just theory. It is good to find a "culture of quality" in yourself which I understand as a desire to constantly improve things around you.
How has the market for testers changed since the firings in tech started?
It's hard for me to answer this question because I haven't felt any impact of the global situation yet on myself or in my immediate surroundings. The small and mid-sized companies might not have been so much into layoffs as biggest tech companies are. SMBs also need to understand the value of quality to enable their own growth. That may bring some hope. But there is also another important factor that impacts the market. Not only are layoffs in IT a problem, but also the number of people willing to join the industry. This is because the recruitment the process requires preselection of dozens or sometimes hundreds of applications per role, specifically for junior tester positions. So it may require a lot of commitment from the candidates. On the other hand — if you make it and you're in, it means that you're probably really good and you may always guide your career path in many ways to adapt to the current situation.
What are careers that one could transition to from testing?
I can say that with confidence — from my and my colleagues’ experience — testing is the best entry point to the IT industry because it is woven into the entire software development process. After just a few years you may end up as a developer or a project manager. It's all up to you. The most career transitions I've seen are related to business analysis, team management, and project management. All of the roles are much more valuable for organisations when they include backgrounds in quality assurance. It allows companies to have their initiatives managed with the focus on quality.
Final words for people who think about getting into testing?
You should absolutely try it out if you think you may like it. But that's what life is all about, not only when you consider changing your career path. Enjoy this bumpy but entertaining ride!
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