September 3, 2016

Here's to Twenty Years in Testing!

With all that's been going on lately, I missed a very important anniversary...

As of last month, I have spent twenty years in the software testing industry.

How I Started: From a Computer Science Major to a QA Engineer

Unsure how I wanted to apply my Computer Science degree, I left college for a bit during my Junior year at Bridgewater State. Businesses were just starting to invade the web, causing the early pioneers of this new electronic frontier to grumble.

Demand was so high to find people to staff these new "dot.coms", placement agencies were called in to weed through job applications and find good candidates. I found myself at one of these agencies, Sally Silver Contract Services. After testing my analytical skills and reviewing my technical background, some code samples of work I was doing in the classroom, and a rough portfolio from when I spent two years in a college job as a graphic artist / desktop publisher, they asked me, "Have you ever heard of 'Quality Assurance'? Oracle has a new division in Massachusetts, a three month contract position with an option for extension..."

Back to School: Finishing BSCS, and Earning Masters of Software Engineering

That was my first assignment as a QA contract consultant, back in August 1996. I finished up my BSCS/ Theatre Minor in 1999. My Masters of Software Engineering from Brandeis in 2008 helped me understand the entire software development life cycle, where for one semester I could be a database developer, and for another, a project manager.

This technical skillset has served me well, even before I became an automation developer, allowing me to develop good working relationships with developers, project managers, and user experience designers, and its helped me hit-the-ground-running with projects.

Why I'm Passionate About QA

I've always loved QA! Networking with:

  • Project managers to test the requirements
  • Developers to test the product
  • User experience people to see how we can make the product more intuitive
  • Marketers to make sure we are building a product that meets the customer's needs
... My most important role as a QA Engineer is to be an end-user advocate.

Changes in Software Testing

Right now we're seeing some interesting changes in software testing:

  • Developers and System Administration and QA are being smooshed into "DevOps". 
  • Traditional QA manual testing roles are being rewritten, with the one-two punch of open-source automated testing tools and continuous integration, where QA teams are being ramped up to learn how to code. 

Adapting To Change

I am also seeing interesting changes in my role in QA. I now seem to be a published writer, working on my third Automation Development article for which should be published in a few weeks.

I've switched from being a manual to an automated tester. Maybe in a few years I can become a Software Developer in Test, or maybe a QA Manager. I miss when I was acting as a QA Lead for an offshore team of five manual mobile testers. That was fun! ... Whatever the future brings, I am looking forward to it. 

Here's to the next Twenty Years in Testing!

-T.J. Maher
Sr. QA Engineer

// Software QA Engineer since 1996.
// Working with Selenium WebDriver since 2014.
// Follow Adventures in Automation and Like us on Facebook!

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