At the beginning of the quest…

So you decided you’d like to wander into the mysterious land of QA. You look at the old, wooden, no wait, new big led screen reading “Software Testing -> go this way” and decide to follow it. As you reach the passage in the mountains of doubt you see that you have to pass a narrow bridge and to do that you’ll need a guide. There is a funny looking guy standing next to the bridge – he wears a superhero cape with bugs crawling all over it, looks a bit old but still quite able and as he offers his help you accept…

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When I decided I wanted to become a software tester I turned to books as I always do – you got me, I’m a total bookworm.  I read books and learned on my own. I got some recommendations from a colleague of my dev fiancee, read trough some blog posts, read some opinions and ended with few books but the one I finished first was exactly this weird guy by the bridge…

robThis book was Ron Patton’s Software testing. It was just as it’s author on the picture you can see here – it got the basics covered, was nice and a tad outdated. It surely is a good book for someone who wants to start his journey with QA. It has a bit of software development history, with some stories perfectly illustrating why the QA is a thing at all. You’ll get to know about white-box, black-box, functional testing, testing the www sites, automation or testing documentation and documenting testing. Still, bear in mind, that the book covers basic with occasional dive into deeper waters – sometimes too deep and quite unexpected. On some pages you’ll feel like you’ve got an atlas from 1980 on your hands. Europe still has the same mountains and coastline, but there is no more Czechoslovakia and USSR got lost in history. My biggest problem with this book was that I found it a bit chaotic and at the end I was not sure I got everything right and had problems with listing what answers do I need or even what questions should I ask.

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After crossing the first bridge you quickly thank your quirky guide and feeling equally overwhelmed, amazed and confused you stroll down the path. Forest surrounding you is tall, big but more welcoming than scary. Following another led sign (this is a tale, don’t ask me where do we get the power to light it up), you realize there is a first quest ahead of you! “Getting your first experience”. Just as in case of many other professions – you need to gain some EXP points before you can join a team of follow merry testers and begin the big adventure. And as in many other professions – getting that first notch on you magic wand (or first point on you CV in less magical circumstances) is the hardest.  You spot an offer nailed to a tree…
“From Your life three days
and a small pouch of gold
You’ll get thru the maze
able and bold”

Some people say that getting ISTQB Foundation Level certificate is not the best idea, some people say it’s a good one and I’ll say: it depends. If you are a beginner with little, to no knowledge and experience, good training and exam passing possibility may just be what you need. It was what I needed.
I got lucky – the training was a gift from my loving fiancee, who wanted to help me on my way. To be honest price of the package training+exam+few practical projects may get some people to think it’s better to just study alone and pay for the exam itself. I went to Akademia Testowania training that was around 550 EUR/2400 PLN while the exam itself is 160/700.

1a1f8f1Was it worth it? Yes. Before the three day course I just had what I learned or watched on-line and meeting both the trainer who could answer questions I had and people who had similar problems, questions and doubts, was a really good thing. Over those three days we went through the syllabus for the ISTQB:FL, but it was much more than just reading it at home! More information, better studying material, possibility to ask questions at the moment they appeared, listing to other people’s questions and getting to just chat with people I had similar goals with – just a short list of why it was great.

Passing the exam required some studying at home, but I felt it was much easier after talking the syllabus through and getting additional information. Trainer, Łukasz Pietrucha, turned out to be a good teacher and a nice person – he even sent us some helpful links to get more knowledge, join some communities and answer on-line questionnaires with FL questions.

Exam was not the end though. For another month I got five tasks to complete on-line, all giving me a taste of practical experience. It’s one thing to learn about test cases, test scenarios, testing and bug reporting and a whole other thing to actually do that. After finishing the last task I felt I was starting to grasp what exactly would it be like to BE a tester.

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If you are a beginner I’d recommend going to a good training (with practical part if possible) and  getting the ISTQB:FL certificate. It not only helps you gain knowledge and skills quicker, but also may be a strong advantage when applying for that desired first internship or job. It got me thru the maze of uncertainties and doubts and surely it looked good on my CV, sending the message that I don’t just say “hey, I was a translator, editor and accountant and now I want to be a tester”, that I am serious about software testing – I’ve given it thought and effort.
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If you already have some experience, you might not have a need for that jump start, but still ISTQB:FL might come in handy when you want to get a raise, get another ISTQB certification etc.

In my humble opinion – if you want to walk thru the bridge and get thru the maze to venture into QA land – read books, watch videos and if you can – get ISTQB:FL, it certainly won’t hurt!

As you are standing at the maze end you see the breathtaking landscape of the QA land… Oh, how you can not wait to get on the yellow road and explore, have fun and get on with the great adventure…

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