We recently caught up with Iurii Sokolov, he is one of Careerist’s teachers, to chat about his IT career. Iurii has been working in the IT industry since 2012, and he really wants to share his love of Quality Assurance (QA) and his career journey with you. Read on to be inspired!
How did your QA career start, and why did you choose QA?
Before my QA career started, I actually had a good job and I’d worked hard to get a degree in Design.
Then I moved from my home country, and I found out that many of my friends had learnt about something called QA, and some were working in the field... I was intrigued. I asked more about QA, and they all told me that they’d been to some bootcamps where they learnt about it.
I was really interested by this point, so I asked them to show me what they’d learnt. My friends showed me how easy it was to learn QA, and they actually taught me a lot too.
A couple of months of studying QA was enough for me to grasp the basic principles, and I started applying for jobs.
I eventually got my first job and I’ve actually never left the organization! I started out as a Manual tester and I moved along to Automated testing. I also became a QA Lead.
You’ve worked in a number of companies located in and around Silicon Valley, and now you’re working for Google. What do you like about your current job?
Google has a very cool atmosphere!
I really like the fact that there are many different teams at Google, and your experience will be different in every team you get to work in.
I’ve actually worked in a few teams over the years, and I’ve always been happy with the people I’ve worked with. My manager, for example, is a great person!
I also like the fact that I get feedback from my manager regularly, and being in regular contact with them also leads to improved work and output, and overall job satisfaction. I know of some people in other organizations, who work for 3-5 months on a project before any kind of manager starts to track their productivity and work.
It was also good when I first started working at Google because they gave me enough time to get used to my new workplace. The environment was calm, and my deadlines were not unrealistic. I loved the fact that I had time to get acquainted with my team as well, and this meant we could work even better together.
Google is always interested in long-term workers, so they take workplace culture seriously! For example, they never shout at you, they show you respect, they don’t make you run around trying to complete tasks, and they don’t call you at weekends as this is your personal time.
Additionally, the perks are amazing... food, activities, gyms, anything you could ever want really.
Finally, working at Google means that you get to experience using their tools and software, and they’re pretty awesome!
How long have you worked at Google?
Three years in total.
My first contract lasted for a year, then I went to a startup project, but I returned to Google.
I’m working in a different position at Google now, and I’ve been working here for two years.
At Google are you a Manual or Automated tester?
During my first year with Google I worked within Manual and partly Automation. Here we worked with various partnership programs, where we would test their software. At this point we were interested in the design, system and correct display of the software. And we even tested some products that weren’t on the market!
I then applied for a QA Lead role, and in time I moved to the Automated testing department.
As a QA Lead, what are your responsibilities?
QA Leads can have various responsibilities, and they often depend on the team they are working in.
Sometimes QA Leads are responsible for part of a project, for example, a new feature or a new application. On the other hand, they can be responsible for the whole project and its delivery.
They do not test themselves, but they lead the QA process.
For me personally, I was supervising the whole of a web quality assurance project. Here I had to work closely and collaborate with different countries around the world. Developers were often in the office with me but some other team members were abroad. I was basically the person who connected everybody together, so we could work seamlessly on the project.
Often as a QA Lead you will find that other managers, who are involved in the project, do not have time to communicate with developers and team members to solve problems. So, a QA Lead is the one who solves the issues, without the need for a manager's input, it’s basically the perfect scenario.
Once a manager, who was trying to sort lots of development issues out, told me that I was a cool coworker and I was a natural at communicating. He left me in charge of the queries and issues coming from the development team, I soon took the burden of dealing with development queries away from him, and the developers didn’t bother him every single day. The issues were resolved, and the manager could deal with other pressing tasks.
Tell us about your team at work?
At present I am working on a project that has many platforms. There’s iOS, Android, Web and several others. All of these platforms require different skills, so there’s a separate team for each platform.
If you’re working on a website you definitely have to have a technical lead. This is usually an experienced individual who knows about configuration and how things work.
Usually, you have an engineer in your team who helps to create tests.
And I’ve often worked with Manual testers who help to run test cases.
You’re a teacher at Careerist, tell us more about this.
I love teaching a lot! And I believe it’s something I do really well.
Having taught students when I was living in my home country, I know how important it is to effectively communicate difficult topics to individuals. I would like to think that my students think that I explain difficult stuff in an easy but fun way, so that anyone from any background can understand what I’m saying in class.
At Careerist we teach our students exactly what they need to know to do their job well. And we want them to have successful interviews, so we do our best to ensure that they are prepared well in advance, and they have plenty of interview tips too.
We don’t teach super difficult and irrelevant stuff!
What’s your advice to those who aren’t sure if a career in QA is for them?
First, if you think that you cannot learn about QA because the material is too hard, you’re wrong. With the right material, support, and effort, you can ace QA!
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to think that QA is too difficult for you.
When you realise that you can learn QA, the next question you’ll have to ask yourself is, ‘Will I enjoy this job?’
The answer is ‘Yes’.
If you’re an individual who likes looking and finding mistakes, working with software and digital products, and you want to work in a dynamic and ever-changing environment, then QA is for you!
You may think that a development role is more for you. I mean the work of a developer is extremely important, and it is creative to an extent. But, you won’t get the buzz of having to check the quality of a finished product from the end-users point of view, if you choose development!
Don’t doubt your ability to learn QA, because you can do it!
Why are QA testers so important to a company?
There are few key points to consider.
First, when companies choose to close QA departments, and to give this work over to developers, they are heading towards a company collapse. Why? Because developers cannot test. I mean, a tester has a creative and intuitive mind, and because of that testers often provide qualitative results that can be acted upon. Developers, as the name suggests, develop software. And perhaps, they might not actually see the errors in the code they’ve created!
Second, testing departments are also much cheaper for a company.
Finally, can companies really afford not to have QA testers… Think about it, companies that earn a profit from users going to their website and spending money, need to make sure that they have little to no bugs on their website. Too many bugs means that they could lose millions of dollars in a day, people lose faith in the business, and nobody is interested in going back to the site for a second look! Nobody wants to go to a website that is full of glitches, and they certainly won’t want to hand over any cash!
A QA team could eliminate major issues for a company, and could save them a lot of money in the long run. There’s always a reason to have a QA department, so this business solution is worth investing in.
How can a Manual tester become a QA Lead?
If you want to be a Lead, you need to show your manager that you are ready to take on more responsibilities at work, because as a Lead huge amounts of responsibility is exactly what you’ll be taking on.
You need to tell them that you’re committed to taking on more duties, prove it (if possible), and you need to be able to use your initiative effectively at work.
Do your best to persuade your manager that you are a good worker and show them that they can trust you. Managers like to know that they can trust their Leads, because they’re going to rely on them to solve particularly tricky problems in the future.
Obviously, you will need plenty of work experience behind you. But if you don’t have anything, it’s worth waiting a few months so that you can gain some experience, plus your manager will get to know you better too.
Don’t get upset if you don’t have a Lead position immediately, these things take time. But your manager will remember your eagerness to grow professionally, and when a Lead position comes up they’ll consider you for it.
What are the most important skills for a QA tester to have?
Communication. When working in QA you’ll likely be communicating with many people. For example, you may work across different departments, and you’ll certainly work with designers, QA specialists, and developers. So, being able to communicate clearly and effectively is going to foster great collaboration within these different departments, and it will yield positive results.
Attention to detail. QA testers make decisions based on the results of test cases, and sometimes test cases don’t work out and testers have to think creatively. Testers often have to look closely at the situation to see what’s happening, so that they know how best to document and solve the problem. The work of a QA tester is very precise. For example, missing lots of bugs is not good, and could be problematic for an organization.
Ability to learn. The IT world grows everyday, and so does the QA world. A QA tester must stay on top of new developments and technologies that are coming out. Additionally, a tester needs to be able to learn to collaborate with different departments, and they need to learn what tools other departments use, and what their workflow is like. As a tester you should have a desire to learn and discover more about IT, as well as wanting to grow professionally.