How to become a tester: pros / cons, internship, experience

Hello Habr! My name is Yekaterina, and I am leading testing and constantly looking for new specialists to join my team. From my experience in three companies, I can say that only 13% of searches turn into real employees. I will not analyze how the funnel for recruiting qualified personnel in IT works – this is the task of HR’ov – here I would like to talk about how large companies expand the funnel through corporate internships and try to inspire those who are just planning to try themselves in this profession.

The technology of searching for your employee in the staff is like choosing clothes: you will not buy a jacket that is obviously great or tight for you. Similarly, in hiring, many factors must coincide in order for the candidate to fit into the team and contribute to the profitability of the project, and not vice versa. Therefore, the advantage of a candidate without experience is his potential.

Willingness to learn

An exceptional professional and a beginner develop according to the same scheme, in the so-called cycle of competence development:

  • Conscious incompetence: understand what to learn
  • Conscious competence: try knowledge in practice until they succeed
  • Unconscious competence: get a skill and bring it to automatism

The bottom line is that a guru differs from a beginner by the number of completed cycles.

In the IT environment, learning is an ongoing process: new languages, technologies, tools, approaches appear and old ones die off. As the black queen L. Carroll said, “you need to run as fast as you can just to stay in place, and to get somewhere, you need to run at least twice as fast.”

Alas, experienced employees get stuck in the square of unconscious incompetence – the very case when a person mastered several methodologies, learned to use a couple of tools and decided that he knew enough to solve any problem. In turn, a candidate with no experience is in the square of conscious incompetence, understands his position and is ready to invest maximum efforts in mastering new information.

No “extra” experience

Each candidate’s experience is a unique combination of knowledge and skills. As I said earlier, every skill is hard work and must certainly be paid for. On the other hand, projects are also unique and may only need a fraction of the candidate’s experience. By triple limitation formula usually the project is unwilling to pay for skills that it does not need and must account for the costs of acquiring skills that the potential employee does not have.

A candidate with no experience is a blank slate, and everything he learns in the company will be justified and paid for.

No “harmful” presets have accumulated

Continuing the topic of project identity and the triangle of limitations, I will consider the block of expenses in more detail. Processes, technologies and tools are always collected on the basis of expediency – if, of course, the project pays off.

Traditionally, testers explain their professional activities as follows: tests should be written in TestLink, in the format of test cases and a special person should distribute who will perform which tests, traditional checklists in excel are wrong, and at the stage of an MVP product, at the head corner cost simplicity and minimal cost.

A candidate without experience did not have time to accumulate presets, he must be introduced into the position from scratch and there is an opportunity to enter it correctly.

How to become a tester

The best option for a novice tester may be a corporate internship… After training, in contrast to school, the company expects long-term cooperation, expects to see in a potential intern real interest in the case, confirmed by action. After all, it is important to remember that choosing a profession is a responsible task. It’s enough to imagine what your life will turn into if you lay rails every day, when you love growing flowers.

There is a huge amount of literature written in the field of testing, which, in turn, is better absorbed if you know what you are looking for. Here is a list of questions, in my opinion, suitable for a beginner:

  • What does it mean to conduct functional testing with a black box?
  • What should be guided by when choosing tests if the time is very limited and you cannot test everything?
  • What information must be attached to the defect in order for anyone to reproduce it?
  • Where, besides the requirements for the product, can you find out the “expected result” of the system’s behavior?
  • What defect do you consider blocking?
  • What information and in what form should be remembered after testing, what and under what conditions would you test, and what not?

Before reading, make a cup of tea, relax, reflect on how the answers sound. Comprehended? Get started!

If you prefer light reading, I recommend R. Savin’s bestseller as the first book.DOT com testing“. If you find it easier to understand the information when it is structured by shelves, read”Software testing. Basic course“S. Kulikova.

Technical part

At least once a month I have a dialogue:

– Q: What does it take to become a tester?
– I: You need to know the theory of testing, have some developer and administrator skills too, and much more.
– Q: What’s so difficult?
– I: .

Technical awareness in testing cannot be overemphasized, but if you have to choose where to start, I would go with SQL. Databases exist in almost all systems, relational ones prevail. Well acquainted with SQL A. Bewley in the book “Learning SQL“, but to perform the exercises you will need to roll backup with tables and data… For whom setting up your base is too difficult for now, go through Basic Online SQL Course

In general, however, you will probably need all the technical knowledge that you already have. Think about what software do you use, what you can reinstall, configure, do you use the task manager, have you ever registered environment variables, set up your home network, or opened DevTool in a browser. Write down anything that might be useful and update your knowledge.

Practical part

After theoretical and technical training, your natural step is to try yourself in the role of a tester: analyze the requirements, solve, and then describe what and how you will test, execute tests, pass the defect to the development team, and also sensibly assess what exactly you like in this activity and why.

For this task, a crowdsourcing platform is best suited – for example TestBirds (available in Russian) or uTest (English only). All you need to do is fill out a profile, take a few tests and wait for your test assignment.

As an alternative, I suggest testing your favorite site, game or application on a smartphone: research the product, determine what value the object is, what tasks can be solved with its help. Take “Agreement” / “User Manual” / FAQ as requirements: any descriptive information about the product will do. What’s more, personal user experience is fine too.

Your task is to choose one function and study how it works in different conditions, with different data, with different settings. Write test cases on it, describe all the defects that you find and ask your colleague to complete the task. Did you repeat it as intended? Fine. If not, correct the documentation and send the found defects to the support service, attach to the description your opinion on how the defects affect the function. A pleasant reward for the work done is an upgrade of your favorite service.


So, you received the initial knowledge and confidence in choosing a profession – now reflect your achievements in your resume. The work done is your undoubted advantage in interviews, and you can soberly think about a career in the company where you especially want to work.

Small companies often hire candidates with no experience as testers, and they will have the opportunity to test everything at once – perhaps build testing from scratch. Large companies, as a rule, are process-oriented with a large staff of testing specialists, and they implement mature processes on projects. An internship with them is a good way to enter the profession without stress, to build up your area of ​​responsibility gradually.

If you are completely determined, I recommend two search options:

  • Passive Search: Post your resume on all known job sites
  • Active Search: Most IT companies have a portal that details projects and, of course, vacancies. Research what potential employers have to offer and submit your resume directly so it reaches the addressee faster

I wish the most interested the best in self-determination, and welcome to the profession!

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