The Best Career Advice I’ve Ever Had

Is this:-

Google it.

And I’m only half kidding here. I hit my teens in the mid 90’s. This means I grew up using actual libraries, and “finding things out the hard way”. And it was largely really time consuming, incredibly frustrating and often inaccurate.

Like most kids I was really into music, and used to record the UK Top 40 on the radio every Sunday. Then, I’d painstakingly rewind and listen back to our favourite “choons”, patiently writing the lyrics down in the back of my mate’s school books like some weird human Lyrics.com.

Sometimes I’d get lucky, and find a good set of song lyrics had been written down in Smash Hits magazine (remember that kids?), but often, if I couldn’t make out what the words said we’d just be completely stumped. Or I’d have to make an uneducated guess – e.g. “A scrub is a guy who thinks he’s fly/he’s also known as a bus stop” (TLC, No Scrubs) or “You put me high / upon a bannister” (Boyzone, You Needed Me). My god we were cool.

Smash Hits Magazine Song Lyrics Cut Out Feature

Then Along Came The World Wide Web.

I’m pretty sure everyone can remember the first thing they Googled/Asked this weird posh guy called Jeeves. Mine was this, and I stand by it –

What Are The Lyrics To Hanson’s MMMBop?

And to this day, I still know those lyrics. In fact I’m convinced I’m one of the only living people who does actually know them, because a) Hanson have been consigned to history’s musical rubbish dump and b) they’re pretty bloody unintelligible lyrics. Go on, I dare you, give it a go:-

Hanson MMMBop (official video)

I remember being genuinely floored when the actual words to the song came back on my screen – yes it took a good two minutes for the page content to slowly appear, and yes, my Aunty needed to use the phone so turned the internet off shortly after, but still, it was magical.

So, you may ask, what has this got to do with testing career advice? Answer: everything.

Near enough every problem you’ve had as a tester has been experienced and overcome by someone before you. Sometimes thousands of times over. Stack Overflow, Ministry Of Testing and a million and one other places hold the answers. Its incredible to think we never had this amazing facility at our fingertips. Use it liberally, and without shame.

Learn the why. Google the how.

When you first start to learn automation, learn programming basics, rather than jumping straight into a tool. Why? Because then you have the context to understand a line of code which will genuinely help you to learn. But remember, even super experienced testers use Google several times a day when, for example, they have forgotten the exact syntax for a method declaration. Don’t let your imposter syndrome fool you into thinking they’re any different to you. They don’t have fairy dust, or a wand, or the worlds greatest memory. They have the context, the “why” figured out, and they use technology to help with the how. Google it!

Thanks to the Ministry of Testing’s bloggers club for the inspiration!

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