Rob used to work in the restaurant business. In his mid-thirties he decided to switch careers. He shares his journey after working as a Manual QA tester for a few months.
How long have you been in tech as a QA tester so far?
It’s been two months of fully remote work.
And how did it start?
Believe it or not, I didn’t even get any devices to work with for the first three weeks. I was doing some catch-up work for someone else. I was doing pretty much nothing except getting familiar with the application all that time. Someone had just had a baby, and I had to cover for them. Besides exploring the app and looking through documentation and requirements, I would ask if anyone needed help and request tickets.
That’s a typical story for many new hires. Some companies can make you wait for a month even to get Jira or Slack access. So what has changed now?
I’m working on four different iOS devices, and now I have my Roku AFTV set up. They don’t just use the hardware part of it; there is some software usage too.
They use Azure DevOps but not Jira or RestRail. It’s something very similar to what the Careerist trainers showed us. It’s all baked into one tool: you can make your test cases, bug reports, and user stories in one single application. However, this all-in-one solution takes some time to get used to, but it’s convenient, and even now there are some things I’m still figuring out.
Jira isn’t a single solution for everyone. Sometimes companies prefer other tools, and it takes time to get used to a new tool. Azure DevOps is somewhat similar to Jira but a bit more complicated.
Indeed. We had a meeting recently when we finally got into the beta version and switched to Jira. I hope it will work out for everyone soon.
Do you do any automation now?
At present, I don’t do any automation. My boss said the company would pay for any training on automation. I suppose he wants to keep me on, because he also said if I had felt weird about the pay, he would have discussed it with me the other day. He will probably increase it shortly.
That’s because you’ve impressed him. Are you getting enough assistance from your team?
[laughing] Well, I do my best, and the work is not as hard as I thought it was going to be. Honestly, the only hard part is setting up the devices. Since the automation people handle everything else, you have to do it yourself. If you need anything regarding API, they’ll take you into a Zoom meeting and discuss what they need to show you.
My team is tiny, by the way. There is a manager, the senior person in automation, and me, the manual tester. They always show me and guide me on how and what to test and give me accurate, step-by-step instructions.
Usually, they write it down because they’re engineers, but in some cases, you need to figure out all the steps yourself, which can be crazy. So you’re testing mobile devices now, right?
I’m working with connected devices like Roku, Apple TV, and AFTV. I test their performance on television. At the moment, I’m also using Android Studio, and the class on the ADB commands has helped me a lot. I also use some features on Charles Proxy.
Charles Proxy is a comprehensive tool that testers can use for many purposes. Quite often, testers have a single option to work there. Does it work for you in the same way?
Yes, I do a couple of things there. And it’s straightforward to set up once you hang out on it a bit and put some of the new builds there.
Do you have to write test cases yourself?
I haven’t written any test cases so far because we just look at the user stories and then figure out any bugs we could have.
Business analysts create user stories, and basically, it’s the requirements that help create test cases. It’s quite common that there was somebody who worked there before you who had already written those test cases for you to run.
How long did it take you to get the job?
The Careerist studies, the final meeting with my mentor, and the internship were over in mid-September 2021. I started job searching on September 19, and it took me four-and-a-half months to get the offer, which happened in January 2022.
That’s pretty long. Can you share some more detail?
I responded to 170 placements in the first week, which was relatively normal. In three weeks, I got the first calls and then scheduled interviews. Out of those, I had four final interviews. The most rounds I went through were two, and I didn’t go to more than that. The winning one was a one-round interview.
Maybe it was just something about me, but on Mondays, I would find a lot of offers, so I could easily submit 30 or 40 applications on the sites I went through. But as the week kept going, the number of positions went down, and by Friday, I would have barely 20 positions to apply for, following the principle to respond only to freshly posted opportunities.
At Thanksgiving, calls went really low, and they promised to get back to me in January, which lasted until New Year's Eve. It felt awful to apply throughout that time.
We recommend applying throughout the year, regardless of the month, and being prepared and ready for an interview any day. How much did you get?
They started me off with $72,000 and a contract to hire for six months on a remote basis. The project is from February to September 2022, but they can negotiate it with me at the end. I’m still applying to try to find better, more stable opportunities.
You said it’s fully remote. Where is the company?
The company is in New Jersey, and I’m located in New York; there’s an office there, but I believe a lot of the core team is new.
What was your approach to studying the interview questions?
I had a peer/graduate in my class, and we would meet up twice a week and practice. I’m better at listening and visualizing, so she recorded our Zoom meetings, and then I listened to them throughout the day. Any extra questions I had I discussed with my mentor.
Thanks for sharing your experience. It was nice to hear back from you after some experience in a big company. Sometimes the worst interview may bring you a job offer, and on the other hand, you might have the best interview ever and they don’t call you back. Thanks for the motivation!