QAshido – The path of the tester. Virtue #4: Personal management skills.

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Link to QAShido – The path of the tester. Virtue # 3 – Team management.

muhammad ali quote

Couple of words…

I believe with this article we dive into one other aspect of professional development more oriented in the part “What should I have within me” instead of “what should I do to progress”. And it’s about passion, it’s about loving what you do, loving who you are and most of all being comfortable with all the above, only like this you are going to be successful. You wonder why I picked Ali for the cover photo? Well, for the exact same reasons – passion, love, commitment. I was in sports for a lot of time, not boxing, but anyway, Muhammad Ali was always inspiration for me, not just because he was great, but mostly because he was no one first, and he became great against all odds. And speaking of him I would love to star part 4 of these series with a quote from him:

“If you want to be a champion, you have to be the best. If you you are not, pretend you are.”

I think that sums it all up pretty well, but we can think about it a bit more. In your career as a QA and in your life in general there will be large amount of people telling you “You can not do it”, “You are going to fail”, “You are not qualified enough” etc. and you know what? Fuck ’em! They are telling you their story, not yours.

Because you need to think of yourself as your own product and as your own masterpiece and you have to have the balls to stand for yourself and what you believe in. Many times this will define who you are in your life and career path. In job interviews people are not just selected because of their technical skills, but also because of their confidence and reliability.

And I want to touch another aspect of this quote and it’s motivation. You can’t afford it to lack motivation and self confidence, because as stated above practically everyone else will do that for you, so it is you that have to cheer you up and tell you “You are the best”, and when you truly start to believe it, others will come to believe you, too.

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Grant yourself the freedom of being wrong.

Another aspect of good personal managements skills and I believe this one is applicable for QA more than anyone else, is the right to make mistakes and the right to be wrong. Because that’s what define our careers as testers. Let’s take a look at it:

At our day-to-day routine we write test cases that in biggest percent pass, which means we were wrong, by primarily assuming we will compromise product’s quality by that case, right? And yet, there is this small amount of test cases that fail and reveal certain defect and if we are clever enough we can catch a whole defect sequence or get to the bottom of business logic being wrong or design issue or many other stuff. What I mean by this is, we feed on failure and we must embrace it, there’s nothing wrong with making mistakes.

The “constant learner” mindset.

I believe that as people occupied in IT this is the “adapt or die” part of our careers. As testers we have to be aware of a lot of stuff that are not primarily our task – business trends, new technologies, app architecture and many others. We won’t be able to survive if we don’t evolve and improve our skill set. And I hear very often people saying “I want lo learn, but my company does nothing for that.” Well, it’s as much your company’s fault as it’s yours, but if you ask me it’s all yours. There’s plenty of free courses you could get anytime and this is not bullshit, I am talking about courses from the largest universities in the world such as MIT and Stanford. And you can get courses in any area you want from neurobiology to cryptography or machine learning. And in fact if you are really dedicated to learning and improving you will be ready to pay from your own pocket for these courses and conferences, because after all it’s you who will be the end consumer and beneficiary of all these. So my point here is, knowledge is everywhere and in it’s bigger part it’s free, the only things you have to invest in fact are the ones we value the most – time, commitment and hard work.

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Blogging – learning while promoting yourself.

I put great importance in blogging, obviously since I am blogger myself. In my opinion if constant learning is one of the pillars of being a testing expert, then constant sharing of what you’ve learned should be the other one.

And blogging has a lot of advantages:

  • You can deploy your blog on your own domain and on your own hosting – as an IT professional it’s good to know how to operate a web site from behind, deal with it’s database, bump into few performance issues, break it once or twice – all these are valuable experience.
  • This way you are promoting yourself – let’s be honest, after all we are our own product and we try to promote and sell our services at the highest price possible. And blogging is a great way to show what you can do and what you know. Otherwise you might be a great professional, but no one out of your company will know about that.
  • Great way to test your viewing points – blogging is exciting about this, you become a part of a community, people who read your stuff and you read theirs, and if at any point you mess up something you might be 100% sure there will be someone to tell you of you are wrong, especially if you are writing for testers.

And it’s fun, too, it’s a great way to have a creative hobby, something in which you give something in order to gain in some future moment, instead of only consuming, which is the modern way to spend your spare time. Yes, it’s not easy, I can not say I am quite popular as a blogger, but I am happy because I am doing it for myself and if by any chance some of the people reading my blog find my articles interesting, that’s just awesome.

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We are working in IT, in case you don’t know, or if I didn’t mention it 1000 times lately, and you probably know many people in that area are very, very, veryy antisocial and prefer to live in their “shell”, no contacts out of it and life is happy. Well, yes, that might work for devs, but it’s not a good way of life for the testers. We are different breed, we like to ask, we like to argue, to have conversations – that’s what we are good at. That’s why I am defender of the statement, that we have to be the proactive side in building relationships, looking for answers, getting to know devs and other testers. To be a good professional it’s important to be recognizable in your area. So make yourself famous, do talks, lectures, attend to conferences, talk with people ask them what they think, this will help them and you.

So that’s pretty much it, for now. If you like, agree or disagree with anything of the above, feel free to ask, comment and share with your friends.

Good luck 😉

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Senior software engineer in testing. The views I express here are mine, they don't represent any position held by any of my employers. Experience in mobile, automation, usability and exploratory testing. Rebel-driven tester, interested in the scientific part of testing and the thinking involved. Testing troll for life. Retired gamer and a beer lover. Martial arts practitioner.

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