This is a guest post by Nishi Grover Garg.
Last year was hard in more ways than one. Amidst the pandemic, lockdowns, and changing global political climate, we were all forced into a survival mode of sorts. While many people struggled to hold on to their jobs, others had a hard time adjusting to working from home while managing kids, home life and distractions. As we cooped up with all the chaos around us, our career and growth plans might have taken a back seat.
As we progress through 2021, let’s take back charge of our careers and drive them in the direction we want. Here are six tips to get your career as a tester back on track, or even take it down some new paths!
Learn a new skill
Learning anything new, whether it’s a new language, a new recipe, or a life skill like swimming or cooking, can help open your mind and create excitement for learning other professional skills, too.
Learning a new skill has always been the first tip you get to advance your career, and that’s because it stands true now more than ever. It’s often necessary in order to upgrade yourself if you want to land a new job or a better role. But amidst all the chaos around us, our minds might not be the best focused on learning right now.
Whether you were impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and lost your job, or your plans for a job switch were impacted or delayed, do continue to spend time and effort on learning something new that you have always wanted to master.
Diversify your skills
Testing is a multi-faceted role, and testers need to possess multiple skills to be effective in their teams. Especially in the ever-changing landscape of DevOps and agile, being a tester requires skills ranging from test automation to API testing to functional testing to security, performance, and load testing. We also need to be familiar with build processes, automated deployment tools, and white box tests.
Still, whatever your current specialty, you can always acquire another skill to better your profile and expand your skillset. Here are some ideas:
Choose an area to specialize in
While it is important to know a little bit of everything, that might not satiate your hunger for knowledge! As you diversify your skillset, you are bound to recognize that you love a certain topic more, so you can then focus on specializing in that area.
As you dig deeper into that area of testing, you will learn more about the tools it requires, the best technologies to use, their comparisons, in-depth features, etc. This will help you participate more in discussions, showcase your advanced skill set, and eventually be seen as a go-to person for that job.
As we see in the testing space, there is a high demand for specialists in fields like API testing, security testing, Android app testing, performance testing, and test automation for different technologies. Choosing one of these specializations could lead you to new opportunities and growth sooner than you anticipated.
Here are some steps for delving into an area of expertise:
- Start by going beyond your usual work-related skills
- Pick one area of interest, and dive deep into it
- Look for online resources, courses, and blogs that can help you learn
- Participate in online discussions and forums to discuss and solidify your learnings
- Showcase your knowledge by writing articles or presenting your findings
Take on hands-on projects
All the learning you do will be useful only with practical experience. If you have used for the skill you are learning in your current job or project, that is the best scenario to practice it. But if that is not the case, then perhaps you should look at ways to exercise your newfound knowledge in some hands-on projects.
For that, you can begin some personal projects and base them on generic, publicly available applications or websites. Keeping a record of such projects in your own GitHub account or something similar can help you prove your knowledge to a future employer. It is also a great addition to your professional profiles when sharing with your peers.
You can also explore the opportunities to participate in online crowd-sourced testing projects via testing platforms. This will help you get a real-world picture of how testing happens in real projects, as well as give you exposure to testing varied applications, both mobile and web. You can even get paid for your efforts — there are many testers who have built careers around testing on crowdsourced testing platforms!
Engage with other testers
With most of us still working from home, perhaps without as much professional contact as we’re used to, it can be easy to feel left out or isolated. But be assured there are many people in the same boat as you. Keep engaging with the software testing community, with your peers in your organization, and with anyone else in the industry who you think can guide you to better paths.
Make use of online forums and professional groups to network with other testers. Leverage the variety of free webinars, forums, and groups that support and guide testers through collective learning and sharing of knowledge.
As much as it is important to look for growth in your career, do give yourself some grace for the hard times we have all been through. It is important to focus on what is most important to you, both professionally and personally, and to do your best under the circumstances.
Be sure to prioritize self-care along the way so that you do not face burnout. Take some time to chill, take a walk and be away from screens. Go at a comfortable pace with your learning, and do not get discouraged. Your career can go only as well as your life is going. So take charge of your mental and physical health first, and that will translate into a great career ahead!
Hopefully, these tips will help you start your testing future down the right path. Let’s all set a resolution to stay motivated and make 2021 a bright and successful year!
Nishi is a corporate trainer, an agile enthusiast, and a tester at heart! With 13+ years of industry experience, she currently works with Trifacta as a Community Enablement Manager. She is passionate about training, organizing community events and meetups, and has been a speaker at numerous testing events and conferences. Check out her blog where she writes about the latest topics in Agile and Testing domains.