I was 23 years old when I started my first job. I hardly had a break from completing my 2nd year in University, which was offered as a Higher Diploma in Computer Based Information Systems. I joined an organisation which had it’s parent company in Luxembourg, as a Junior Analyst Programmer. I was quite happy initially, as the office was quite “posh” and I was the highest paid out of all my uni friends. But, one thing lead to another, and I left this job in 6 months.
At the interview with the next employer, the Assistant General Manager at the time, Sudharshana Welihinda mentioned
We have a policy in this organisation, any new recruits have to work as a Quality Assurance Tester before they can move into Programming. This is in place so that they see and learn the different mistakes Programmers do, so that when you become one, you will have some knowledge in potential errors you may make, before you make them.
This made complete sense, on top of running away from the previous job, so despite the offer being less than what I got at the time, I joined Informatics International Limited, in Sri Lanka.
The most amazing thing I remember working there was that the QA team was treated with respect, and Development teams often seeked help, and guidance from the QA team. I never felt “less” than anyone else in the organisation.
Of course, I was “promoted” to an Associate Software Engineer role in about 6 months to 1 year as promised, and the rest of my career remains a mystery to me on how many different roles I’ve played within the software industry.
But, somewhere down the line, I became “Just a Tester”. My other skills, and contributions almost didn’t count, as apparently “Just a Tester”s were these almost ignorant lot.
I remember very well a conversation I had with two of my most respected Developers in one of my previous engagements. Both admired me, and I really admired them. One of them was relating a story about a past incident where he said something that sounded like:
He was trying to tell me what I had done was wrong….
And he was just a tester…
The minute he uttered the words, he tried to correct himself, as he realized that I too was from the testing practice. Although I didn’t acknowledge that I heard it, and pretended it was nothing, the truth remains that I was really hurt. I was already struggling within that specific organisation, with a load of low self-esteem clouding my brain, and I didn’t need another title to tell me that I was a “waste of space on plannet earth”.
But, today I like to ask the testing community, the community of “Just Testers”, how many times have you saved a Developer’s “bottom” from releasing bugs to production? Some critical issues, that would have brought up so much of “political issues” captured by this “ignorant lot”.
I know I have done it many times!!!
I like to believe my strengths are more in Quality Assurance, User and Customer Experience, Team Work, Agile, and the list can go on…. but I remain “Just a Tester”, and …
I choose be proud of it.
I choose to own it, and walk with some level of self esteem knowing how much I contribute.
Most times my contributions are not quantifiable. But I am part of this universe, therefore there is a reason for my existence. I choose to walk my life with the reason in my vision irrespective of the title I’m given.
Many times, I’ve tried to quit IT all together, and go into different industries. Driving, Nursing, Psychology, Defence force, have been a few of them.
But, before I quit IT, I’d hope I fully own my abilities, and my contributions.
I’m currently working for an organisation who acknowledge my contributions, therefore I don’t feel most of the things I’ve written here most days. But I’ve also noticed how much I hate being called a “Tester”, and it shouldn’t be the case.
Why did I write this?
I know I’m not alone in this!