International Women's Day 2018 - Women Promoting Women

The true international woman: Michelle Obama

International Women's Day 2018

I have been receiving notifications all day many in the testing community tweeting about the women that have influenced them or gave them an opportunity in their career.

I have much the same story. I have a lot of people on my career path that have helped me, but there are two that changed the course of my career beyond my wild expectations.

Help Desk To Testing

When I moved to Austin, Texas, I moved to help further my career, change my life, do something new and exciting, even if I there was a possibility of falling on my face doing it.

I after three months, I was still working remotely for Security Benefit back in Kansas. I was starting to lose hope that I wasn't going to find a job locally, that I was going to work nights for the foreseeable future. The only advantage I had was working as a contractor gave me a little more money and room to be picky about my opportunities.

Eventually I landed a job at an education software company on their help desk team. Three months on that team was more like three years. By the end of three months, I knew the software pretty well, I was handling calls and chats at the same time. I was the person opening the phone lines every morning. The work was OK but was quickly becoming boring.

This was until I an opening in the software development department for a QA Analyst. I didn't even know the role existed at the time. I knew I had a passion for trying to get things right for the customer without a bunch of workarounds.

I met with a woman named Marii Thompson. She was the QA Manager, looking for more staff, and excited at the opportunity to help someone move into development.

I was given the chance to move into development. My salary was undercut by HR. The help desk manager offered me $2 an hour more to stay in my current role. Obstacles be damned, I saw the testing light and I ran to it, even with little knowledge of what I would be doing, and less pay than I had working a help desk.

I learned a lot of things the hard way that first year. I wrote so many test cases, and read so many books, took classes, stayed up late for releases, and babysat any number of projects which were under development. By the time I left the company, about six months after Marii did, I had increased my salary by 25% and had a job offer for more. Marii put me on this path. I don't know if she even knew how much she changed my life when she hired me.

The Tester & Editor

The second time I've had a like changing moment was August 2016. The same education company Marii and I had worked for lured me back to be the QA Lead. I was excited about the possibilities it offered and the chance to mentor other testers. Sometimes things don't turn out as expected.

There were a lot of personalities on our team and around our team. The easy going, carefree people I knew were all gone except one or two and many of them were leaving as I had come back. The environment was tumultuous at best. I had plans. Those plans were thrown out for other plans, and then the company was bought. Layoffs were about a month away. I knew it was a distinct possibility that I was going to be one of the number of people let go.

I put out a message to the Women In Testing group and asked for leads for new jobs. Abby Bangser, an awesome tester at ThoughtWorks, immediately pinged me and said that I needed to put in my application to ThoughtWorks. We met at TestBash in NYC and we had been in contact ever since.
I followed through with that and a few other leads.

The day came and a lot of the development team were laid off. I was one of them. I was half way through the interview process with ThoughtWorks and didn't know if I had a job or not. I went home and started studying again, networking through the Ministry of Testing slack, when one day a writer's slack channel popped up. I joined and followed it for a few days.

Rosie Sherry posted a request to have someone do a second review of an article for publication. That article happened to be Maaret Pyhäjärvi's, and I jumped at the opportunity.

That editing session led to writing articles, and then led to an editing job which I never thought I'd do as a tester. It was a dream in another career, in another place, that seemed like a lifetime away. Helping all number of people find their voices. Helping Ministry of Testing spread internationally. Helping me reach a goal I had made so many years ago for myself.

Raise Your Hand, Be Counted

Women were pivotal to my career. They led me through some of the most unstable times of my life and got me through and out the other side at a better place. It wasn't easy. Some of the worst moments, I wanted to quit and be a hermit somewhere, but I would take a day, or two and then come back and start over or continue, because it meant the world to me, the opportunities I was given to prove I could do exactly or more than people thought I could.

I can only hope that I can pass that chance on, that experience, to other people who come into my life. That maybe I can give them some small chance and they can take that and make an opening for themselves to something better.


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