Milestone Week - Speaking, Testing, Coding

Making Milestones Count

This blog has been more about writing up things I've found interesting or found connections between testing and stuff I enjoy. I want to take a moment though, even if it's for myself, and acknowledge some amazing things that happened to me this week.

On Monday, I spoke at a Women Who Code meeting about testing and how to learn about the "Testing Ecosystem" you live in. I received a lot of great feedback from my team members who heard the first version of the talk and from Abby (@a_bangser) and Lisa (@lisacrispin) who reviewed my slides and notes.

It was only supposed to be a 5-10 minute talk. I was the only speaker with a Dell laptop, so that took a few minutes to set up. I was speaking to a crowd of about 15 women, most of them recent to coding or a few years into their careers. While I was setting up, I asked if anyone worked with testers or had a dedicated team of testers. One person raised her hand, and I asked what it was like working with them. She said they were off-shore so she didn't get to interact with them much. My talk was over in about 15 minutes. I took some extra time since there wasn't a long list of speakers that night. The questions afterwards were awesome! I had answers! Mostly. (If anyone knows of a good unit test framework for React, let me know. I didn't know of one.) Questions like, what do you recommend we do if we don't have a dedicated tester? What unit test frameworks can you recommend? What could I use to test the API of my app? Believe it or not, I was able to answer all that. I kind of shocked myself in a way because I hadn't realized I had opinions or knowledge sitting in the back of my head that would be useful to people that really wanted it.

A colleague of mine, Maaret (@maaretp), speaks about not only talking with other testers about testing but also taking the message to developers and finding the support and encouragement to advocate for each other. I think she is absolutely right. I think when you reach across the cubical to the developer next to you, and work together, you can do some pretty amazing things. My short talk gave me all the proof I needed to see it in real-life practice. It was nothing short of an eye-opening, adrenaline charged, good will high that took me two days to come down off of. I think I do indeed have the public speaking bug, and that is mostly because of the mentors I mentioned above and peers who have encouraged me to do so.

Thursday, I met with Holly(@hollyglot), who is the organizer for WWCATX and we talked about testing and ideas for testing an app she was working on. I asked questions. SO MANY QUESTIONS. I didn't code, and she didn't code much either. It was a constant feedback loop of questions and answers, with me writing down a very basic mind map to get a picture and her fielding the answers to questions like it was a thesis defense. I do feel a little bad about that, but I think in the end, we came up with a strategy and more questions she needed to ask regarding requirements to make sure they could cover the system accurately. I think one of the very stand-out moments of that conversation was about the API and her desire to get a mock API working for her app, even though they had created one for the app in-house. She was having problems getting it to work but explained that the real thing was working great. I advocated testing with the real API instead. She was surprised for a moment, and I think a little disappointed since she wanted to get her mock API working. I explained that while I thought was she was doing was important and an awesome learning exercise, it might be easier just to test with the real API. The app nor the API are live yet, so there isn't much of a risk really. And they already had test data they had been passing through the API anyway. She reluctantly agreed and I shared her disappointment about not getting the mock working in enough time to be useful. I gave her the hopeful response of maybe she could get it working with the next project.

I left the coffee shop that night, pretty jazzed about the evening. It was a moment I approached feeling a little scared, thinking about what I could contribute to a project that wasn't just manual testing or really any kind of testing. I didn't even touch the app. I asked questions. We found answers, we discovered things together and I would like to think that awesome things happened afterwards because of it.

Actually, something awesome did happen, I got invited to a coding session on Sunday.

Everybody there had projects they were already working on, and I've been working through myself. I sat and worked through lessons. Chatted and worked and drank coffee and worked. Before I knew it, I was through four hours of work, according to the site, in about two. I stopped when I got to my first project assignment. Parts of the conversation were about coding techniques and differences in libraries and similarities too. Some of the conversations were about experiences and life in general. However, I accomplished something in those few hours, connecting the dots of understanding and having conversations with other women who code on a regular basis. It was a huge confidence booster. I may not be a coder for a living, but I understanding topics and I was holding my own in conversations. I get code. I get how it works and what it's doing, even if I completely suck at remembering syntax. (Hopefully someday I'll find some magical method for remembering different syntax for different languages, but thus far, it eludes me. I thank the internet for being there when I do have to look for these things.)

I feel I have taken a first step into a bigger arena, into a wider collaborative space where it's not just about metrics and test cases, but about community and the work itself. It's very exciting and it has me excited for what's next.


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