Testing is like… an amazing secret

Something you can’t believe not everyone knows because its so. bloody. fantastic. It is the key that opens the door to financial independence, opportunity to work with like-minded people from all over the globe and a chance to be a part of delivering things which can affect millions of people. And we should cherish it.

Let me tell you something about me. I grew up on the East Marsh area of Grimsby, in the county of North East Lincolnshire, UK. At the time I was growing up, it was in the top 25 most deprived wards in the country. Twenty-fifth, out of 32,844.

So knowledgeable was it of the fact that the East Marsh was such a rubbish area to live, the English Indicies of Deprivation Index was kind enough to embed an advert for a burglar alarm installer onto the above page on its report, which gave the scores for the East Marsh itself. The % scores of deprivation read like binary code – better than 0% of areas in England for Education, employment, income deprivation etc, etc. – statistically speaking, there was nowhere worse in England for me to have grown up.

When I was 18 someone told me I was more likely to have had a child by my age than make it to university. It stung (the truth always does I guess), but it also lit a fire under my bum.

I was obsessed with getting out. My only ambition was making it to University. Fortunately, I was blessed with a hard working professional for a mother, as well as determined and capable matriarchs as grandmothers, so I never doubted it was an option, and indeed my hard work got me to the University of Sheffield, where I studied Law. But I used to smile at the people I met at Uni for whom attending was a given, something that was nailed on. For me it was (and still is, when I come to think about it) my best ever achievement.

But what does this have to do with testing you ask?

Well I guess those early experiences of growing up in such a deprived area, as well as working in a bunch of other tremendously overworked and underpaid “menial” jobs, taught me two things. I don’t ever want to go back, and appreciate the good things. My mantra in my early twenties was follow the money – I sought work on a single criteria – wherever paid the best for my skillset, so determined was I to not be resigned to my statistical fate.

When, like most testers, I fell into testing by saying yes to an opportunity without really knowing what I was getting in to, I could not have known how much amazing goodness would be coming my way over the coming decade.

When I hear people in our industry complaining about working conditions, or not having enough free coffee, or only getting a 2K payrise, I only have to think of the life I left behind me to realise how lucky folks are to have what many would consider such paltry concerns. I feel like crying when people from back home get in touch to tell me there are no jobs and (despite being perfectly capable) the geography of where they live has limited their chances. They’ve never heard of software testing either, but I wish they had.

I feel incredibly lucky to work in an industry that is such an unbelievably amazing sector, at such a great time in history for tech – its exciting, challenging, interesting and, yes, for what you are doing, very lucrative indeed. You don’t need to talk to verbally abusive strangers, you don’t need to clean toilets or ashtrays, or pack boxes with frozen fish for hours on end (and yes, I talk from experience on all these matters). Generally speaking, you work with well educated and like-minded people and you get to be a small part of delivering some brilliant, game changing stuff.

If you work as a tester in 2020, you’ve lucked out my friend.

Thank you to the Bloggers Club at the Ministry of Testing for inspiring me to write this, my first ever WordPress blog.

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