It’s Been A While – A #MakeATester Update

In Summer 2016, i kicked off the #MakeATester project on social media, asking for the community and beyond to tell me what skills are needed for new testers to get started in a testing career. I published the results in early 2017 and since then, have been working hard to try and push the awareness of the project with it’s original aim, which was to get more awareness of Software Testing in Universities, enabling graduates to consider testing roles when they leave university.

So what has happened since then?

  1. I submitted a talk to several conferences (maybe i haven’t quite got the hang of the talk submissions for some conferences) and in March this year, i have a slot at UKStar 2018. As part of a “Conversation Track”, I get to share my message and urge others to consider reaching out to universities.   https://ukstar.eurostarsoftwaretesting.com/submission/if-the-universities-wont-help-us-how-do-we-makeatester/
  2. I have started reaching out to universities to give careers talks on testing. Some have been re-buffed with a “sorry, we don’t teach that!” message. I have two lined up in the next few months. One of which is a pure Software Testing careers talk, the other is more focussed on the CyberSecurity careers, but I am fully intending to have a few slides mentioning Testing 🙂
  3. I’d like to find other methods and media to get this message out further, so if anyone has any ideas, please get in touch, either through the blog, or through my twitter account (@siprior)

What would I like next?

I have two things I would like to start from here:

  1. It would be good if I could add a bit of meat behind my message to Universities and as part of reaching out to them and offering career talks, I’d like to also provide the universities with the types of topics they should be covering if they run a Testing module or two.
  2. I can’t do this alone, I would love for all of the testing community to feel empowered to reach out to Universities and other talent who may be unaware of testing careers and would be good fits for roles, and let them know of the rewarding options they have in front of them.

Getting new people into testing should not be as hard as I have found it when hiring for my team.

We have the resources available to get people interested in testing. Podcasts, blogs, online courses, videos, and an immense community always willing to help people with their testing questions.

Now it’s time to start building on what we have and start looking outwards from our community and drawing more in.

Am I barking up the wrong tree? Am I making a mountain out of a molehill? Maybe elsewhere, this isn’t an issue. Let me know your thoughts. 🙂

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Software Testing at University – Is it an Option?

When I left university 10 years ago, I had no clue I would end up in QA/Testing. I didn’t even realise it was an option! Looking back on my degree course (and I really enjoyed my degree), it was very Programming heavy (C#, C++, Java and Prolog all taught) and testing was only taught as part of the Software Engineering module where maybe a week or two of lectures were given and there was a group project where one person was responsible for ‘testing’.

So, ten years on, have things changed? I’ve looked through the course content for the top UK universities for Computer Science to see how much content on Testing is available. Here are my findings:

  • The first University to have a module on ‘Software Testing’ was Swansea (ranked 11th)
  • Newcastle (ranked 14th) has a ‘Software Engineering Professional’ module in year 1 which covers ‘testing and debugging tools’ and a ‘Software Engineering’ module which covers the testing fundamentals
  • Surrey (ranked 8th) had a ‘Software Quality’ module in it’s ‘Software Development for Business’ degree
  • St Andrews, Oxford & Cambridge have modules on Model Checking which is not strictly testing but instead a pre-execution activity.
  • 6-7 of the top 10 have Software Engineering modules where Testing was a line item in the module description

So in a short answer, not a great deal of universities cover testing in any great detail. Swansea and Newcastle cover more than most.

I imagine a lot of students are leaving the top universities thinking Programming or Software Development are the main options for careers. How can it be changed? The software industry has evolved over the past few years to realise the important role testing plays in the software lifecycle. Can universities be made aware of this too?

I’m potentially going back to my university to give a careers talk in the near future and really want to paint this picture of the importance of testing. If students could see and feel the atmosphere at conferences such as Testbash or at Tester Gatherings up at down the country and feel the passion that so many testers feel for the job they do, it would open their eyes and make them realise the potential of other careers available to them.

Testing should be seen as an equal to development or at least a close second but a lot of these degrees are portraying it as a much smaller element of the SDLC.

I think maybe the issue with most/all Computer Science degree courses is that they are very Programming heavy, maybe they could teach slightly less of that and cover a lot more topics not just Testing.

If anyone has any suggestions for stuff I could share with Students about testing, if and when I get to give a careers talk, please comment here or tweet me @siprior.