This is long and ranty, strap in cool kids.
5 years ago I didn’t know my job was a job. I have been working now for 14 years and only just over 4.5 of them as a tester.
I’m been having an existential career crisis but for the first time not because I could be more useful in a different part of the business but trying to figure out what kind of tester I want to be.
It is lovely to find a calling and to feel it in your bones “I am a tester” I am lawful evil, an official product botherer but I’ve always been concerned with the clarity of what others think that means.
When I worked for the local paper people always assumed “oh you write the paper” to the point where an ex school friend now local tory all of a sudden started talking to me again then promptly realised his mistake.
In a more technical role these assumptions have only got worse.
“…everyone knows, when you make an assumption, you make an ass out of “u” and “umption”.
IT is the magic team where requests go in and stuff comes out and also they change your passwords and fix your laptops. This is only exasperated by the fact I did use to fix laptops and change passwords and I’d happily have a bash at the former and miss the sys admin powers of the latter.
This lack of understanding I have tried to tackle over the years. Perhaps too covertly. Any training I’ve presented I had slides on how testing is extremely important. Our last company conference I stole TestBash’s unexpo idea (which was quickly ruined by marketing) to have a “Q&A with QA” which I missed completely due to hangover hell. I have also tried just shouting which is mostly effective as the person trying to get you to do something non testing stops doing that. I even shouted at a company partner.
Testing roles do tend to get other roles crowbarred into them. Some of us are doing DevOps, Product Management, Product Support, ISM or niche random admin for creating bespoke client assessments. The latter lead many other the years to assume “dealing with spreadsheets” was my job and for some days it was my job.
That is totally fine if your company is small but a lot of the time it is because no one else wants to and you’ve been lumped with it.
Within testing itself there are about 4 billion different titles and ways to say someone is a tester. I know there is alot of people who don’t like being called testers. I like to say I poke things. I try not to say I break things (it was already broken). I just want to solve the puzzle and for quality responsibility to be owned by everyone.
I’m aware these are traps I’ve put myself in and for years I was fine with them as I was being useful at least. Being a tester you tend to be a product specialist. That plus having been on the support team, people would just come to me for stuff and it was just quicker to help.
“I think that we’re all in our private traps, clamped in them, and none of us can ever get out. We scratch and we claw, but only at the air, only at each other, and for all of it, we never budge an inch.“
It has caused new people to seek me out and ask me questions that aren’t for me and I’ve frankly got bored of the assumption that that is my job.
This seeking was a catalyst for me to evolve my own understanding of what I need from a role. Before I was drawn exclusively to being helpful and useful as that is safer and I cocooned happily in that for years.
I don’t want to stop being helpful but I need to be better with my boundaries. First and foremost I am a doughnut! No wait I AM A TESTER!!