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From Photographer to Manual QA. Success Story of Kateryna Varshavska

Success Story
Nov 09, 2023
From Photographer to Manual QA. Success Story of Kateryna Varshavska

Can a career in tech improve your lifestyle? You bet! Kateryna has been in tech for a while and shares not only her pathway but also the perks she’s obtained since jumping into a Manual QA career. 

To start with, could you tell us a bit more about your background?

I was in the restaurant business for a while. I also tried web design since my hobbies are photography and videography. So I had a sort of an artistic background due to my hobbies. Then someone told me about Careerist. Back then I had never heard of it. I asked what the job was about, and they told me it’s just clicking buttons and making sure everything works okay. That surprised me then, but years later I can tell you that in reality, that’s kind of what it is. 

What convinced you to pick a Careerist bootcamp?

I was recommended to Careerist by a friend, and word of mouth confirmed my choice. When someone can vouch for something, it really matters to me. I didn’t look for any other opportunities; I trusted blindly. It’s worth noting that it has actually worked for me. I learned all the things I needed to start a career in a completely new field. Later on, I realized that there’s a huge community within Careerist.

You have quite an artistic personality in terms of your background. What made you take a tech path?

I always felt I might succeed in tech for some reason. I have always been good at math, and it seemed that QA wasn’t a difficult path to start a career with. So I thought it might be a good choice for me.

So you decided to try what’s considered an easy start for a tech career. What were your other expectations, if any?

Oh, nothing really. Basically, it was everything I learned at the training and maybe a bit of research I did afterward myself. In the end, it was just all I heard. I can’t say it was easy, but the timing for finding a job is very individual. Finding a job is probably the trickiest part; you just need to give it some time. 

Well, that’s interesting. Could you tell us a little bit more about your time with Careerist? How did your studies go?

Everything happened super quickly. It was around three years ago when I started my Careerist training. It’s been a while, so it’s kind of hard to remember. I emailed them and they gave me a call back the same week, maybe a few days later, to discuss the details. It took me a couple of weeks to make a decision. I didn’t want to postpone this training, though, so I jumped on it.  

The training went quickly. The group wasn’t too big, and everyone got a lot of attention. We also had a lot of feedback from our instructors. My mentor, Victor, was awesome. He helped me brush up on my resume and LinkedIn profile. Any question I had was answered. It was a tremendous support indeed.

I really appreciate the effort for everything that was done because it was a lot. It was rather a long process, but luckily I got to do it with the awesome company of nice folks.

You had some experience with Careerist’s internship. How did it feel to you? What was your overall impression of it as a real-life project?

I believe the internship lasted a few weeks and encompassed a few different projects. We had daily meetings with our managers, which gave us a really good idea of what a Quality Assurance Specialist’s regular workflow would look like at the majority of companies. We saw what might cause bugs and what should be reported, and we also learned who is who. It was a really good introduction to the Agile environment, which was very helpful.

Sounds like a good jump-start. Did you have any expectations from the training?

Honestly, I did not have any expectations at all. I was curious to see what would happen after the training.  

Awesome approach! Very often people are scared of starting something new. Have you had any experience using the Job Application System service?

I don’t remember what happened there for sure, but there was some kind of error with the document or something related to the internship. So Careerist provided me with this option without paying anything for about a month. However, I didn’t see too much feedback. I should also add that the market was really bad at that time. It was something I expected.

Looks like the job search in a complicated market situation can result in landing an interesting project. How much time did it take you to get an offer?

It took me about a year and a half. At first, right after kick-starting the job search, there were lots of calls but few interviews. I got stuck at the initial-calls stage. Then I paused my job search for a couple of weeks, but I came back to finish what I’d started. I did constant searches all week long, although I skipped weekends sometimes. This round was more successful though; some of the interviews proceeded to the final stages with just me and one other person. 

Do you remember any interesting projects you interviewed for?

One was a QA for some kind of farming machine. They would ship computer parts to the QA and they would have to connect them at home to a sort of a VR. One had to navigate testing it. I was really curious about the position, but they hired a person with some background on a related project. 

Do you have any tips and tricks on how to keep motivated during this search?

Just keep on going. I know it’s hard, but it worked out perfectly for me. I just kept pushing to the end. I didn’t give up because I’d invested lots of resources in it. The first job is a golden nugget; it’s the hardest one to get, which is stressful for sure. Trust the process. It can take some time, but in the end, you will find a place to land or even a number of options to choose from. 

Sounds encouraging! Do you remember your first interview? How did it go?

It was so stressful! I felt like I was making a public speech. Even though it was just a phone call, I was shaken up and stressed out. Everybody was telling me that after 10, 20, or 30 interviews I wouldn’t feel that way, and that’s exactly what has happened. When you already know what they’re going to ask, you feel more relaxed. 

I made a public speech once in college, and I did not enjoy it at all. So I think it’s the same fear I had during the calls. I expected them to ask complicated stuff, but in fact, it was easy stuff about personality or my experience in general. 

When did you feel that your stress and fear were gone?

It happened during the final interview when I got the job. That’s when I was finally not stressed anymore.

Did you do any on-site interviews?

The one that brought me a job offer was the only one I did in person, but I had plenty over the phone. Since it was a position in the city I live in, they invited me to the office for a second interview.

Makes sense. Is your job remote, by the way?

No, it’s an on-site one. It takes me between 25 minutes and an hour to get there depending on the traffic. Normally I leave for work at the same time everybody does, so it always takes more time. Except for the commuting time, there is nothing to complain about.

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$115K avg salary

Sounds like it’s an awesome place. What is your everyday work routine? What do you do?

So my job is totally different from a regular QA position, which is funny because even our team is called a content team. We work with content people you see in the United States, like on TV advertisements, in restaurants, on websites, or on DoorDash. We manage everything that appears there. I like the place because there are so many different things that our team deals with. Each person in our team has to be on the same page as the rest of us, so we take notes to tie things together in the right way.

I test and check things to ensure they work, click buttons, add/copy/paste things, do a little research, and make things appear on the website. I might do some other configurations for a third party another day. There’s a bit of everything, which makes this a diverse workflow.

We have five different information sources about the same things from five different providers, and we are the middlemen. I feel like this department and my role are way more fun because there are so many little things to do to make a huge digital and marketing mechanism work.

That’s interesting. How big is your team—the one you work with on a daily basis?

My team has six people. We have two Business Analysts on our team, two other QAs, and our manager, who is the sixth person. There’s also a senior manager and other people, although we interact less with them.

What are the other QA people on your team like? Are they people with extensive experience?

That’s actually interesting because nobody from my team codes. So nobody’s doing automation. For some of them, it’s their first tech job. However, they’ve been there for a couple of years already. So it is the first place they’ve stayed for a while and they kind of like it. It was nice to see that even without a lot of technical experience you can get a job like this. You learn a lot over time, and you’re going to experience everything over time for sure. 

So you find it important to be able to continue lifelong studying, right?

From what I saw in my team, definitely yes, because there are a lot of things that constantly change. If one person gives up or loses focus, then something’s going to happen with another side of it. I feel the work environment lets you enjoy the process; you’re never bored. There’s always something new, and things are constantly changing. The company is also doing different events for teams and sometimes even for the whole company. 

We’re happy to hear you find your job a nice place to be. How long have you been working there? And what are your plans for the future? 

I’ve been working there for seven months already. I would love to learn automation sometime; I really want to try it. It seems like it might click. I’ve seen a lot of people transferring from one team to another or who decided to change their careers, like from one field to another within the same company. 

After these seven months, are you still passionate about QA? Has anything changed since you started to get more into the profession?

I don’t have anything bad to say about it. When it comes to whether I regret going into QA, definitely not. I always know what time I’ll be home. I know my schedule, and things have become stabler this way. I’m not exhausted when I come home, and I’m still able to do a couple of things. I feel good. Weekdays fly by; they are never boring. So it’s nice to feel that you have the time and the energy for something else besides the job and commuting. After I started working in tech things got more peaceful. You have different things to do on your daily agenda, which keeps me interested.

What would you say a QA Specialist is? Who is this person?

First of all, you need an extremely detail-oriented personality. So they are definitely well-oriented and maybe practical. They have communication skills as well.

Speaking about soft skills, what do you think? What skills are the most important for a QA Specialist to have?

A lot of people have contradictory opinions on the same situation, so adaptability and communication matter the most. It’s important to keep in mind that everyone’s different, and we all work with different teams from different countries and on different continents.

Would you like to give some sort of advice to those who are still hesitant as to whether or not to enter QA?

In the beginning, I did not know what to listen to, which puzzled me a lot. Do some research and listen to your gut. Your motivation matters more than just your curiosity. If you’re already in, as I said before, trust the process. Listen to those who have been there for years. QA roles vary a lot and are never the same, so basically everyone can find a project aligned with their interests. 

Do you have a dream niche you’d like to work with? 

I would love to work for Spotify. I would also love to work on what I personally enjoy—Photoshop, for instance. I’d love to test the tools and different things that they are creating and Adobe Creative products in general. I saw a couple of jobs for video gaming testing, and those could also be cool jobs. I don’t know, it’s just like sometimes you don’t believe that this is actually a job. That’s how it feels.

Well, thank you for sharing. It’s been a pleasure to have this interview with you and have a look at how you started your Manual QA career. We are sure you will succeed in learning testing automation. You’ve already shown your dedication and goal-oriented nature. We look forward to a future interview with you, but next time in a new role and with the extensive experience you’re already working on.

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