Monday, October 10, 2022

Back in the Saddle: A #PNSQC2022 Live Blog


Good morning from Portland!

It feels really good to say that as it has been three years since I've been able to be here in person. It's somewhat comforting to realize that life is, at least sort of, coming back to normal :).

This year is a little different, so I'm going to probably be a little more cattershot with my live blogging attempts this go around. I'm one of the first speakers this go around, as I'm giving a talk on "The Intersection Between Accessibility and Inclusive Design". The cool thing is that I'm part of the "Invited Speaker's track this go around, so if you want to, you can actually hear me speak in real-time and for free :).

If so motivated, go here :

PNSQC 2022 FREE Keynote and Invited Speaker's Track 

Vernon Richards, Quality Coach

We are starting out today with Vernon Richards (hey, Vernon, welcome to Portland :) ). Vernon runs the House of Test in the UK and has been a long time contributor in the Quality space so it's exciting to hear him talk about "Career Choices for Modern Day Testers". 

For many testers, there comes a time when they ask themselves "is this everything I'll be doing? Am I going to be "just a tester"? Let me start with the statement that there is nothing wrong with that and many software testers have very fulfilling careers being "just a tester". However, it has been my experience that we rarely get to have that simple of a career trajectory. It's been my experience that testers are often pulled in numerous different directions and often can have their run of the mill if they are so motivated to :).

Vernon is asking something along the line of my second string of thought, as in "what direction will I be pulled in, or should I pursue if so interested? I have experienced a broad realm of possibilities over the years and really I've often been given my choice of arenas to play in.

Over the years, I've been:

- a Sales Engineer of sorts (more a rapid response/Tiger Team debugger and problem solver but aligned with the sales team)

- a build master and Jenkins maintainer

- an automation specialist

- a customer support engineer

- a team lead for a variety of organizations

- a test consultant pulled into a variety of projects here and there as needed

- a podcast producer and moderator (not really associated with any direct hire job but I spend enough time on it so it counts)

- a writer of articles and book contributions (see above ;) )

The key here is that we each have to take command of and determine what it is we want to do and how we want to go about doing it. We have to be the source of the curation of our careers. No one is going to care more about our progress than we will. Yes, we may have members of our team who can help us and advocate for us, but let's be honest, they have their own battles to deal with and their own careers to chart. Fact is, you have to be a royal pain in the keister to others to get them to move on your behalf.

Additionally, you may well have to make some choices and those choices may require you to step well outside of your comfort zone. Learning and Growth can be pleasant but often it's not. Always reminds me of the Roland Orzabel lyric from Tears For Fear's "Goodnight Song"... "Nothing ever changes unless there's some pain". Also, it's important to realize that "learning" and "integrating skills" are not necessarily the same thing. We can learn things fairly quickly but getting the muscle memory necessary may take significantly more time and practice. I'm often reminded of this whenever I see or make a goal with a LinkedIn Learning course. It says it's a four-hour course. Let me assure you, if you actually want to get what you need out of it, you will be spending a significantly larger amount of time than that four hours to successfully complete it and integrate those skills.

Great talk and a great message. Thanks for coming out, Vernon, and thanks for helping us kick off the conversations :).

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