10 Years in Testing, 10 lessons – Lesson 10

Lesson 10 – Keep learning, go beyond testing

There’s so much to learn in testing. The beauty of the profession is that the role can be incredibly broad. I don’t think I know one tester who’s just a tester: we all do much more and often go beyond our role. Some of us dabble in programming and become programmers. Some of us go the agile coach route. Some of us become product owners. We evolve. Even if you stay in testing, there’s so much to do to expand your horizon and make the role into what you want.

That is, if you take ownership of this process!

There are testers who like to keep themselves and their role small. Sometimes because their life outside work is too hectic and they are content “just doing their job”, nothing wrong with that. But for the people who are maybe scared and keep themselves small because of fear (as I did in the past, nothing to be ashamed about), I hope I can give you the nudge here, the permission to grow, if you will. The testing role is highly malleable and once you realise that it cannot be unseen.

This requires taking ownership of your own learning. I urge you to adapt a growth mindset (in contrast with a fixed mindset, as taken from the book Peak). You’re never too old / too dumb / too whatever to learn new things, that’s just toxic shit someone taught you, you can unlearn it. Learning new things and effectively learning new things is one of the best skills you can have. If you want to learn more about this I can recommend the course Learning How to Learn on Coursera. It’s a great accessible course on this topic and it will open your eyes.

But whatever your role, whatever your current skill-set: get to know yourself, explore new skills, keep learning and who knows what you’re able to do! There’s no end to this journey, ain’t that great.

During these last 10 years, the biggest complement I’ve gotten from colleagues was that they viewed me as “so much more than a tester”. I love that, I love going beyond the borders of roles and do what is needed to get the job done. That isn’t too say I’ve never encountered resistance and people that tried to put me back in my testing-box. It does take courage to do things people don’t expect, but do it anyway! There will be supporters and haters. Focus on the supporters.

After 10 years in testing, I’m no longer a tester. I’ve pondered long and hard about what to call myself, IT generalist comes closest I guess. I have learned that I will never enjoy being a true specialist. I love doing different things or else I get bored. This means I’ll never be a full-time programmer, but I do code from time to time. I know that I’ll always love exploratory testing the most of all testing things. I do identify with the good folks in the testing community, so I’ll stick around. For the first time in 10 years, I’m doing something different now, living the start-up life. Time will tell if we’ll be succesful. If not, I might take a testing gig again (I gotta eat too).

This is the last post to conclude the 10 years in testing series. Hope you enjoyed my rants, didn’t take them too seriously and had a chuckle. If you learned just one thing, I’m happy. Cheers, ya’ll.

Thanks for reading. Read the other Lessons here!

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