Two weeks ago I was giving a presentation at StarEast. I will write more about the content of this presentation on a later post, but I wanted to write about something that happened “on the side” of it that made me realize an interesting characteristic of most testers out there in the world.
During the introduction slides I mentioned that I was a case of being an “accidental tester”, someone who had gotten into testing more by chance than as part of a conscious and planned decision.
This was not an integral part of the presentation, but more of an introduction to get the audience to understand from what point of view I wanted to present my ideas.
Then, after the session was done, two different people came to share with me that they also saw themselves as accidental testers and to tell me how they had personally ended up as testers without having intended to do this in the first place.
Does anyone ever plan to become a tester?
After talking to these two “accidental testers” I kept asking people in the conference about their own personal paths into testing, and I found that everyone I talked to had stumble into testing from different sides of the working spectrum.
There were those who had started in the business side and moved into testing as a side-effect of having displayed technical interest and abilities. There were those who had begun as tech-writers or support engineers, and moved into testing because they saw it as a more appealing job. I also talked to some who had come from a programming background and had been asked to test in a specific project, only to understand that they enjoyed this far more than their programming tasks.
In short, I don’t think I found even a single person (although I am sure there were) that had made a conscious decision to become a tester as part of a planned and defined career path and profession.
What should we do about this?
Should the fact that most of us ended up as testers by chance bother us?
I think not, and not only that, I think that people who end up in testing as part of an evolutionary path are more prone to be better at their jobs.
Why is this? Because they progressed into their jobs based on their natural strengths and not due to a decision that sometimes may be artificial and not in-line with their internal (intrinsic?) personal capacities.
For example the people who went to law school or to study accounting in order to please the expectations of their parents, or those who went to study management because they could not choose any other profession from the list provided by a university, or those who studied computer science because they thought it would provide them a high salary.
We are good at what we do!
We are testers because we like to test, and many of us are even pretty good at it 🙂 I don’t know many testers who endure working for long in our profession otherwise. We should not let the fact that we did not get into our profession following a “standard path” affect our self esteem in any way.
A good tester needs to be a self-learner by nature, he won’t have a chance to survive otherwise.
We need to constantly learn our AUTs and how to test them effectively. We need to learn how our users approach our applications and how they use them as part of their daily activities. We need to learn how to effectively communicate with our stakeholders and peers in order to gather information and then to pass it along to all the team. And we need to learn many additional things that are simply not taught in any formal way in any university or learning institute.
Self learning is another one of our testing tools, and maybe the fact that we are “accidental testers” is actually part of the natural selection process that helps define who will be a good tester, and who may do better by looking for another profession for him or herself.
So, the next time you feel like you ended up in testing by mistake and that maybe it was the result of a wrong turn along the way, look into this thought again.
The fact may be that you were a tester from the very beginning, but you needed to go through a self-development process in order to reach your professional maturity and fulfill your calling as an exceptional tester.