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Success Story: Alex

July 20, 2021

Many people ace their job searching process, and they start a new job within a few weeks of graduating. However, there are times when graduates completely give up on looking for work after a very short period of time. 

Something similar happened to Alex, she gave up on searching for a job initially, but she returned to the task a few months later and got an amazing job offer… She has decided to share her journey with you, so that you can learn from what she did or didn’t do. 

She also wants to support her fellow students at Careerist, and to motivate graduates who are considering giving up on looking for work in tech. 

I’m confident her story will inspire you to rethink your own job searching process.

So Alex, how did your QA story start?

I find my experience quite unusual, to be honest. 

I graduated in June 2020, and after a month or so I gave up the whole idea of working in QA. 

I applied for some jobs, but I didn’t have any calls. After a short period of time I decided that I wasn’t going to spend my time looking for a job anymore. I think some of the graduates I was in class with did the same and they also gave up easily like me. 

In fact, I completely forgot about a career as a manual QA engineer until January 2021. 

Then after giving the career some more serious thought, I decided to give it another go. I studied all the course material and questions again, and I re-started the job searching phase. 

The second time around I had a much stronger motivation and a desire to find a job. So, I decided to keep going on and on with the job searching until I got an offer. 

To my surprise, I got an offer very fast. 

Was there much difference between your first job searching process and the second one? 

Basically no, not much. 

The second time I was applying for more jobs, and I was far more active in my searching, for example I used more sites to find jobs. I mostly used LinkedIn and then Glassdoor. I found my current job through Glassdoor. I was also applying for jobs everywhere across the country.

I had a lot of responses the second time around. I got a lot of calls for example, and in less than a month I had an interview. 

I started my second job search on January 15, 2021, and my first interview with the company I currently work for was on February 7. 

How many interviews did you go to?

I think I had two further interviews at another two companies, not including the one for my current job. 

I was surprised that my current company gave me an offer, as I was pretty sure I did really bad at the last interview with them.

What questions were you asked during your interviews?

There were some basic questions about myself, my team and projects I’d worked on. 

There were some more questions about Agile and the tools I’d worked with. 

During my last lot of interviews they asked me a lot about databases, and what my experience with using them was like. I told them my experience was minimal, but I didn’t go into too much detail. 

I followed the question-answer list provided by Careerist, and I created my own strong answers to the questions that were frequently asked.

One question in particular caught the attention of recruiters. ‘How would you test a vending machine?’ 

Recruiters totally loved my answers to this question. I basically provided them with a list of more than twenty possible test cases for it. Starting with positive and negative functional testing, moving onto stress testing and finishing up with UI checks, checking colours, and doing a brand and design check.

There were times when recruiters were looking for specific knowledge about specific things which I didn’t have. But that wasn’t a problem because they told me that they could teach me everything I needed to know at work.

How many interview rounds did you go through to get your current job?

Not taking into account screening calls, I went through four interview rounds to get my job. 

  • The first round was a virtual interview, and it was weird. In the interview it was just me, a program designed to ask me questions, and a recording device to record the answers I wanted to give. They basically showed a question on the screen, and I had a minute to prepare an answer, and then I had to  record myself answering the question. 
  • The second round was an interview with a QA manager and the VP of technology. 
  • The third round was a task-based exercise. I had to write down my observations about a specific case. 
  • The last round was a team interview. I talked to three software engineers and a product owner.

Tell us a bit about your offer. What company benefits do you get?

In short, I didn’t negotiate my salary with my current employer because I was happy with the $70,000 they were offering me. 

I have a full-time remote position. And it will always be remote, and I’m not worried about my office location, or how much time I have to spend on my way to an office block. 

My current benefits include things like insurance and time off. The company has also provided me with a Windows laptop, two monitors, a keyboard, a desk phone (which I don’t use), a headset, cables and various things like that. Basically, everything I might need to do my job. 

What do you do at work?

I’ve been working at my current company for a week, but I haven’t done any testing so far. 

Nothing is too complicated so far, it’s just learning. 

The first day I spent time trying to get into my computer. They said my laptop was broken, and I could not log in to set anything up. So, I used my private computer because I could not get into my workstation at all*. I’m expected to write test cases soon, so I will be training for that shortly.

*Sometimes it takes time to get access to a system. Technical problems are not rare. Usually, a new worker will complete minor tasks, like getting to know the applications used, learning about the processes used at work  and studying older test cases while they wait for the issues to be resolved.

What is your team like? Have you made any friends?

My team is very nice, but I haven’t made any friends yet. Things work differently when you work remotely. 

I figured out recently that there’s only one QA manager for the whole company, and there are several different QA engineers. They are all in different teams too. So, my manager is quite busy.

She barely has time to teach me, so I mostly read the documents I’ve been given, log bug tickets into Jira and see if I can understand these bugs. 

I attended a lot of weekly meetings, I’m automatically added to them, in fact. Luckily we don’t need to have cameras on, so I’m happy with that. There’s a tech meeting at least once a week, and I just need to be present. I rarely get asked questions and I’m okay with that.

What was the most difficult part of your job searching journey?

I found it hard to keep going, which is why I did give up and I didn’t push myself enough to send out job applications. 

In terms of interviews, the last stage of the interview for my current job was the hardest. Here they asked me a lot about databases, and I thought I didn’t do good enough. Anyway, when I scrolled back through the Slack conversation I found messages where they mentioned that they valued my honesty, and that they were sure I’d be a great addition to the team.

Looking back I have to say I wasted a lot of time doing nothing at the start. For a long time I was a stay-at-home mom, and I guess sometimes I wonder why I got my current position. Anyway, I’m happy that I have a job, I have flexible working hours and I can take my computer to the kitchen and have my lunch there.

Have you got any tips for our students?

While preparing for my interviews I was constantly listening to the course videos. I did this even when I was doing housework, like cleaning or doing the washing up. My advice would be, sometimes it’s not enough to just re-read the questions Careerist gives you, you have to actually listen and think about what you’re hearing. 

I was always writing down notes on my hands to help myself with the questions. 

What is the future looking like for you?

I’m still waiting to hear back from some other companies that I got to the final interview stage with. If I’m fortunate enough to get an offer, this time I will definitely negotiate with them for a bigger salary. 

We are grateful that you shared your story with us Alex. And I’m sure you’ll have cheered up many of your fellow graduates who are feeling a little down on their luck right now. We’d love to hear more about your experiences, so do come back and tell us. 

We wish you all the best at your new place of work.


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