While taking his first step towards a career in tech, Ion knew he would get there. He was motivated and went through the training with determination, earning a position that would help him grow professionally. Today, he shares his tips with us.
Could you tell us a bit about yourself?
I've been in the US for around ten years. Before switching to QA, my work wasn't even close to tech. In terms of my background, I knew how to use a computer. I might have been an advanced user because I could cope with some OS issues and reinstall the OS myself. I didn't have in-depth knowledge of a programming language or anything like that.
Knowing things at a user level is more than enough to transition into testing. How did you find out about us?
Honestly, I don't even remember how I learned about you. I have a lot of friends working in Silicon Valley—at Salesforce and other big companies. My brother is in this field too, so I decided to give it a shot. I was looking for some trainings online and came across Careerist, and that's how it started.
And what were you doing before?
I was in the trucking industry. I was a driver and had another truck working for me. I tell everyone it's good money but hard work because you're never home.
Agreed. Where are you located in the US?
I live in the most beautiful state in the US, Washington state—in Seattle, to be precise. The summers are gorgeous here, and we have a bunch of companies like Starbucks, FedEx, Boeing, Amazon, UPS, and Microsoft. Every single suburb here has a company.
What happened after you studied at Careerist?
First of all, a big shout-out to my mentor—she helped me a lot. All you need to do is listen to your mentor, and that's it. Following the recommendations is easy. They're straightforward and will get you into tech.
Did you apply by yourself? What was your job search approach?
Maybe my story is not unique, but it's interesting. I was applying by myself for the first month, and I applied for lots of jobs. I probably applied for 30 per day since I strictly followed the Careerist recommendations for training graduates.
The next month I used JAS (Job Application System). I told my mentor I wanted to use it, and she got me started right away. Within the next ten days, I saw the applications made by JAS. When I added JAS, I checked on it every day to see if it was working and to feel like I was doing something.
So you tried the job search both ways. When did you start getting phone calls?
It took about a month. I was okay with that because my friends, already working in Silicon Valley, told me it takes time in tech. It's totally different from what I'm used to.
I had 5 or 6 calls with HR departments, and almost everyone promised to reach me back but never did. Then I had my first interview at Amazon. I had two interviews before I got my job. They were about to start a huge new project and were looking for manual testers. The first job was a hybrid. It was one day at the office and one day at home. At my current position, it's up to me how often to go to the office, but it's still hybrid. I go to the office once a week. Everyone wears badges, and it's like a different world to me. I like the atmosphere.
How long did it take you to get a job?
It took two months of active job searching to get a job. I planned a vacation in August, so I started working a month after getting the job. The offer came through on July 26th, and I started working on August 29th. I guess I was lucky that they let me do it this way.
And how many interview rounds did you have?
I had two interviews each for two different positions at Amazon. At the first interview, there was a QA lead but no hiring manager. As far as I know, Amazon usually just throws you to a QA team. So you have an interview with the developers straight away. The first interview was super friendly, and I failed it when they asked me a simple question about testing the "play" button. I got too nervous, and my mind went blank. All they wanted was to hear me respond and search for a solution.
A week or so later, I found another open position called "Quality Assurance Stack Level 1." This interview was with the manager I have now. He's more like a team lead. They asked me a few questions: I had to write test cases for a login page, then answer a question about what I would do if I found a bug, and finally do some testing of the password field. Everything was about the use of Chrome DevTools.
That's a pretty good start. Did you join an internship offered by Careerist? Was it useful while answering interview questions?
Yes, I did join. I tested two products—one for the web and one for mobile. While speaking briefly about myself, I also mentioned my overall experience, and here the internship was very useful. My internship experience helped me speak confidently about the things I did. Once you start hesitating, they're likely to decline your candidacy.
What was the most remarkable moment during your interview?
I was asked to create test cases, and they kept asking, "What else?" I described around 25 test cases and was wondering how long I should keep going when we moved on to something else.
So you are to prove the interviews are not between 3 to 5 hours. Did you get an offer this time?
Yes, I did. I got the offer on the second day of interviewing.
Congratulations on getting a job at such a big company! If I may ask, how much money did they offer you?
It's a contractor position and like $80,000 a year.
Did you try to negotiate your salary?
Yes, I did. I negotiated the first one, and they gave me $5 more, but I didn't get the job. For the next offer, I didn't negotiate. The salaries for full-time employees are a bit higher, so if I'm transferred in the future, I'll definitely negotiate again.
Careerist graduates will all face different situations as they interview, and thorough preparation is the key to success. Not every question on our list will come up in an interview, but it is an excellent resource that can help prevent surprises. How is working as a QA engineer?
It's super nice, and to be honest, I like it a lot. I've been here for a month already. I was super frustrated for the first week because it's a new field for me and a job at a big company. It helped to remember that every single person is human—you don't need to be afraid because everyone understands.
The first week it was just me and one other new hire, and we became friends. The company had all the project information on an internal site, so we spent a lot of time reading.
In the second week, we started looking for bugs, and in the third week, we started writing test cases and testing a lot. They sent me an Android device for mobile testing. I also do some web testing, mainly on Android, which I find super cool.
The people are mostly friendly and supportive. It's a contract for now, and I'm happy because I wanted to jump in and see things from the inside.
Which tools do you use every day?
I use TestRail and an extra internal tool to record bugs. The latter functions like Jira, and the logic is similar.
How busy is your average week? What is your schedule?
I work from 8 am to 5 pm and a standard 40-hour week. However, I can work when I want because I'm a contractor, and they track a lot. It's super flexible, and my manager is okay with that. It's chill and doesn't feel like you have to record every moment. I send reports at the end of the week.
Have you ever had hours denied?
No. I need to tell my manager if I'm going to be absent. I submit my hours by Monday at 2 pm, and that's it. I've never been denied.
Do they have a fixed number of tasks or bugs they want from you per day?
No. They give you tasks, and you go at your own pace. I see this position as a great experience for me. I'm looking at it as an opportunity to learn how to write 50 test cases daily. Again, I can grow professionally.
Do you follow an Agile or Scrum methodology there?
Yes, and it's an excellent experience. Again, the meetings are huge. I don't understand everything they are talking about, but I think that's normal. Moreover, they are happy to answer my questions, and I don't have to rush trying to figure things out myself.
In tech jobs, there is something similar to seasons. Sometimes it's chilly, with nothing much going on. Then there are hot periods where everyone is very busy because many new features and releases need testing. Amazon is a company with high expectations, but you also gain a lot of experience.
Companies have different approaches, so just do what you are expected to do. Thanks for sharing your story with us! We hope to hear from you back as you climb the career ladder.