Bostonians keep surprising us with interesting stories and the great offers they get. Khadija is a career switcher, and once having decided to make a change, she took small but purposeful steps toward her goal. Most of all, she wished to relate her new career to her previous one. And guess what? Her dream came true!
Could you tell us a bit more about yourself?
I’m from the East Coast, from Massachusetts.
So what did you do before switching to testing? Do you have any tech background?
I don’t have any technical background or tech skills other than using a computer. Previously, I worked for the finance company J.P. Morgan. I was doing pricing and analytics and worked as an investment pricing analyst there for almost four years.
What made you change your career?
I just wanted to move to tech, and that’s how my journey started.
And how did you find us?
I found Careerist through Google. I was looking for an opportunity to start my career in the tech field, and I was doing some research. So, while searching for a training and an opportunity to get a certificate in QA, I came across Careerist.
Then you came to us, did the lessons, and joined the internship. By the way, how was the internship?
I started Careerist last year —around October–November—and I finished in January. The internship followed the training, and it lasted between two and three weeks. After that, I joined another one. But even after having two internships under my belt, I still didn’t feel ready to start another career, so I put everything on hold. When you have a job, it’s really hard to do all the interview processes, which was the main reason for that.
So when did you start applying for jobs?
I started an active search in June. Around May, I passed my main interview with a Careerist Career Coach, and after that, she said I was good to go and could apply for jobs.
Did you mention your previous experience on your LinkedIn profile?
Partly. Before finance, I had human resource experience, but I didn’t mention it. At J.P. Morgan, they created an application for us to automate our manual processes, and I was a beta tester there. So I included this experience. Again, each work experience is unique, so consult your coach about do’s and don’ts on your resume. Moreover, I wanted something connected to finance, so I kept that on my resume and LinkedIn.
How much time did it take you to find a job?
I found the job in July. So it was around a month.
So a one-month job search. What platforms did you use for your job search?
I used ZipRecruiter, Indeed, LinkedIn, and Glassdoor.
How many jobs did you manage to apply to in one month?
I applied for around 250 jobs in one month, most of them through LinkedIn.
How did your search go?
At first, I had only a few calls from recruiters, and some of them told me they wanted to talk, but they never got back to me, so I know that feeling too. The job I got I actually didn’t apply for. The recruiter reached out because I had an “open to work” status on LinkedIn. After a little talking back and forth, she suggested an interview with them.
It seems like you’ve had something on your profile that might catch their eye. What happened then?
So after the initial talk with the recruiter, we scheduled the interview with HR. The interview went well and lasted 30–45 minutes. HR gave me the okay, and I talked to another person who was the product team manager. After that, I had the last interview with two team members, one of whom was the manager of the implementation team. After the last interview, the recruiter called me and told me they were going to make an offer.
How long did it take for HR to get back to you?
Everything happened very quickly, within one week. The hiring manager was in Australia and because of the time difference, she called me back in four or five hours on the same day. Everyone was very friendly.
What questions did they ask you?
My first interview was full of finance-related questions because of my background. In contrast, the second one was mostly a product manager talking about the product and what they do. The product manager asked me finance-related questions because they usually do the financial side. My last interview was technical. I was asked about my test methodology and then to describe the kind of testing I do and the tools I use. They asked me if I had any automation skills, but I told them I didn’t know much, just the basics. Overall they didn’t ask me a lot.
Did you have any questions that you struggled to answer? Besides the automation question you mentioned.
No. All the questions—basically, whatever they asked—were on the questions list you provided. The material we studied at Careerist was more than enough.
By the way, did you negotiate your salary?
Yes, I negotiated it. Initially, they offered me $85,000, and I declined that. The recruiter talked to HR and offered me $95,000, which I would accept, but then she said they would do $100,000 so that I wouldn’t go to another company, and I agreed. I think everyone needs to negotiate their salary because there is always room to get more.
Your company is great at that. So what did they offer you?
It’s a fintech company, and mine is a full-time, hybrid role. I go to the office twice a week. They offered me $100K plus a bonus of 8–12 percent.
And you have less than one year of experience on your resume, right?
Yes, that’s true.
Does your job give you unlimited PTO?
No, I have just 20 days per year, and that’s all.
How is the office?
It’s a really small office. It’s not a startup company, since they’ve been around for 20 years in the industry. People are friendly and helpful, and they know I don’t have much experience. It’s a fintech company, so my finance background is very helpful. I will be doing manual testing, but they also have some automation tests already set up. They paid a lot of attention to my training and promised to teach me automation.
How long have you been there?
I got my job on August 29. I was supposed to start in July, but because of my previous job, it has been a bit postponed. I have been there almost two months now .
So you’re getting familiar with the product. The more you know, the better you will be able to find issues.
Everything seems difficult when you start something new, especially the first week. Again, it depends on the application. In my case, applications are mostly for investment companies, so that’s why it’s normal I don’t understand everything right away. They do not expect me to understand everything and start doing the job immediately. Over time I seem to be understanding things better.
Are you using Jira or TestRail?
We are using Jira, not TestRail, and Excel for test cases.
And fintech uses waterfall project management, right?
No, they are Agile.
What was your personal approach to preparing well?
Doing mock interviews with a career coach is helpful. They keep you asking the same questions, and you don’t need to memorize anything. You are just getting used to the same questions. So you just need to learn the main questions, the basics. Repeat and re-watch. Keep reading. Don’t memorize. Just try to understand.
Great words! Do you have any final messages for your peers?
I want to mention that even though I have experience in finance, it isn’t necessarily a must for everyone to get a job. Just be confident and keep applying for jobs. I know many working QAs who didn’t have any experience, not even an internship, and have found a job. You need to apply, and one company will hire you. Just be confident, don’t get discouraged, and be motivated, knowing that you will definitely get a job.
Sometimes we tend to get stuck in our willingness to figure things out. Indeed there is a grain of truth in your words. Careerist aims to save your resources and bring you to the tech field ASAP. I hope to hear back from you soon to hear more of your story. Thanks again for sharing your story and thoughts!