I am available for a new software opportunity. Not sure anyone reads my blog but I left the MS software company here in Calgary I was at. I was there 10 or 11 months and my title was QA Specialist (I think). I was brought in to cover a mat leave.
What I did there?
I don’t like to mention the company names but it’s easy enough to find out but it was an integrated payroll, time&attendance, benefits application with a web-based employee portal where employees can view statements and sign up for training.
The people were amazing. I felt the company valued my integrity and my person as a human being.
I felt like I put a lot into it in that I felt committed and engaged everyday and to be around the group was – I was lucky. It made me a better person. I was highly technical in the past – can be caught reading inner details of how software works – and some of the people there just could do it all. Hardware issues, software, web, you name it they could solve it no time flat. Being a small company I guess is part of it as my former brother in law who was a medical emerg room doctor used to say working in a small town northern BC for a long time doing medical where there are no specialists you wear a broad cap. Could be dealing with a heart attack to a sprained ACL and had to handle it all.
At my job previous to this, people were paid to code and they were paid fairly well. You were a SQL stored procedures expert only, it was highly valued but here people wore many hats.
Processes and automation of builds and shipping software and updates was amazing.
The software was quite refined in that one bug was a big deal whereas I am used to being in environments where there are bugs and they are prioritized and every bug is not an immediate critical issue.
Not sure payroll is where my interest lies. It’s fairly straightforward for the most part and there are tax implications but I still liked the web products and testing in general. I found I did not gravitate to understanding payroll taxes. I found the banking from a business point of view more interesting as it’s something I use. Maybe that’s it, not sure.
I did a lot of QA on their web and desktop products and we used Team Foundation Server.
What was the highlight as far as my role? What was I most proud of?
I think working with the development manager when a bug was discovered by a client and working it out with him and getting a fix from the developer through to testing. The team work was incredible. Hardly any egos.
I can’t say I had the “I want to break this software” mindset as a QA Engineer. I tested that it worked and I’d indicate it passed or I’d raise a question or fail it with documented issue. Others I noticed would be happy to break the software to prove it did not work.
I loved testing the web-based products. I loved it. They had a recruitment web product and whomever designed that did a great job. Clean and simple. Functional. I would try and push to get those assignments. Web portal and recruitment software testing.
Sometimes it would be “test the web portal” overall. Go at it for 2 hours and see if it breaks. I can’t say I liked that as much but I did it. How my mind works was let’s have a baseline of tests that we use each release and use that as a guide. I went with how they wanted to do it.
I worked in the next cubicle to a developer who I identified with quite a bit. Same age and same more laid back philosophy. We’d work as a team sometimes back and forth and it was really gratifying.
I think I’ve mellowed out a lot from when I first started in software but I have the same tendencies in that I am super detailed. I am very quiet when I am at work and in general.
What I did not like about the role?
I did not get to plan much or see the bigger picture and that was what I hope to get in a role in the near future. Stuff like this is what is in the release and plan how to take the need to test it all and plan it – how to approach testing it. I like to understand the big picture and feel I am growing into being better and better.
It was not a steep but there was a learning curve and I was not super productive immediately but was learning every day.
I did some SQL administration work and got better at that. I did like that but was getting a little bored with restoring databases and backing up, etc.
The senior management was exceptional to me, they accepted me so much and tried to make me happy there.
Next role? Not sure. Not sure it’s QA. I want to be a lead type role. Not sure I can get it based on not having done it in this job but I want to do that. Work is a huge part of my life, it’s always been my #1 priority. I get a lot of gratification from the work and the relationships and this period of transition is going to be challenging on that front. I’ll have to get into a routine – some structure for job searching and exercise.
If you hear of anyone looking for a software professional – I strongly prefer the Microsoft stack of software, let me know. MBBrennan AT gmail dot com.