What Has Helped Me in My Testing Career
In this post, I’ll share three things that have helped me in my testing career as part of Ministry of Testing’s Bloggers Club.
This is my contribution for June.
1. Managing My Energy
Set the scene
I’m not sure exactly how to name this one, so I’ll do my best to explain what it means by telling a story.
In 2017, I got a deportation letter from the Swedish Migration Agency.
I was given one month to get the hell out of Sweden.
My employer’s former insurance broker added in one of my insurances a few months too late. (In Sweden, for a work permit, you need four insurances.)
My employer hired a lawyer to appeal and over the course of a year as we were messed around with by the Swedish Migration Agency I eventually got my work permit extended.
Pretending to be ok
I pretended to be ok in public.
I continued to be the Area Director for Toastmasters where I was in charge of the surrounding Toastmasters clubs.
I also had some great achievements at work by helping a large organisation move towards an Agile Way of Working, I delivered a lot of internal presentations and got great feedback on the work I was doing.
But to be honest, I was miserable.
So miserable, in fact, that a doctor prescribed medication for my anxiety.
My cup was empty and I kept on using energy to do things, I couldn’t help it.
The problem was I didn’t know how to fill my cup.
I was running on empty. And unfortunately for my husband, that meant I was leaning on him a lot.
The concept of “filling my cup” was completely foreign to me.
I only discovered this concept (even though I felt its consequences) years later when we had children and I needed to find a way to deal with constant sleep deprivation.
What I do nowadays to manage my energy
Nowadays, I always make a conscious effort to not just manage my energy but to fill my cup.
By managing my energy I’ve found I’m able to get more done at work (or these days be more present with my baby), maximise the few hours I get in the evening to create things and be a better wife and mother.
My husband and I like to check in with each other and see if there’s something we can do to help support the other.
We are both mindful of how we manage our energy because we are aware of the spillover effects it has.
For me, I gain energy by:
- Being with my children (when they are not crying or throwing a tantrum)
- Chilling out with my husband
- Hanging out with my friends
- Going to the gym
I lose energy by:
- Being around more than a few people
- Being with my children when they are throwing a tantrum
- Sometimes even being around my husband as I was just want to be alone
By keeping an eye on this, I can get a lot more done in a short space of time because I have lot more energy to dedicate to certain pursuits.
If you’re reading this, I highly encourage you to consider what brings you up, and what drags you down.
And then do something about it.
Your future self will thank you.
2. Ask For Feedback
While I have already dedicated a blog post to asking for feedback, I want to share with you what has happened when I have asked for feedback; what I have learned about myself.
Bugs weren’t good enough
The first time I remember asking for feedback at work was a bit over two years into my career.
I decided to ask for feedback because I felt like I should or that it was the “right” thing to do.
I can’t remember the medium through which I requested feedback, but I do remember asking everyone in my Scrum team if there was anything I could improve on.
I didn’t honestly expect to learn anything new.
But I did.
The Product Analyst in my team told me that my bugs were poorly written and he suggested a better way to go about it.
My first thought was: Eeeeeeeexcuuuuuuuse meeeee.
But then I swallowed my pride, took a step back and realised he was right.
If I didn’t ask for that feedback soon after starting in that team, I wouldn’t have found out that about myself until my performance review much later.
Testing discussions are great
I introduced testing discussions once features were added but before developers started writing code.
At previous projects I had testing discussions informally with individiuals in the team.
But I wanted to try having it as part of the Way of Working where features had a dedicated testing discussion and the team would brainstorm ways to test the feature.
After the first one, I asked around to see what people thought and turns out people loved it.
It saved us time (and therefore money) because we were able to prevent bugs before they were written.
Behold the power of many great minds.
If you want to read more about ensemble testing, check out my interview with Lisi Hocke.
3. Help People
I’ll be honest, I’m not 100% sure exactly how this has helped my testing career.
But I’m 100% sure that it has helped me.
I try to be generous with my time to help people both in and out of work (as long as I manage my energy, see my first point).
Helping people brings me a lot of joy, I love seeing others succeed.
Also, as someone who has been helped by others earlier in my career, it would feel wrong to not go out and help others now that I am in a position to do so.
Soon as I started to make an effort and help people, good things started to happen in my career. I had others advocate for me (as I made them look good), I had others recommend me for opportunties both in and out of work.
I thought the reward for helping people would be the feel-good factor of knowing that I helped someone.
But that was just the start.
For me, helping people has opened up doors that wouldn’t have been opened if I only focussed on myself.
If you’re looking for ideas on how to help people, here are some suggestions:
- Ask people at work, is there anything I can help with?
- If you notice someone at work seems to be struggling, approach them and ask them if they need help and/or they’d like to talk (maybe they just need someone to listen)
- Connect people who you think would benefit from knowing each other (ask for permission from both sides first and explain why you would like to connect them)
- Give honest, constructive feedback if people ask for it
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