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The courage to change – from a recruiter to an engineer testing innovative mobile apps

Implementing Sii’s Power People mission is not only about providing vertical promotion opportunities but also allowing horizontal development. Agata Szwichtenberg, Test and Analysis Engineer at Sii’s Digital Competency Center, discusses how such changes come to life and what challenges they may bring along the way.

You started your journey with Sii in 2008 as a Recruitment Specialist when Gdansk’s team consisted of only a dozen people. What are your memories from this period?

Agata Szwichtenberg, Test and Analysis Engineer: It was my first serious job in the recruitment area which was my focus at the time. Apart from recruiting, I was also responsible for many other things such as worker administration, marketing or organization because the whole office had only two people. I vividly remember that we had to assemble furniture with the help from a really close-knit team.

Before becoming a Test and Analysis Engineer at Digital Competency Center, you had built your position at Sii recruiting hundreds of IT and engineering specialists. To put it simply, you are on the other side now. What made you change?

S.Sz.: 3 year ago, my friends at Sii and our Norwegian client Startsiden placed confidence in me and I started testing applications. Before that, I spent three and a half years taking care of my two sons. I knew that after such a long time, I would come back to a totally “different” company. The office, my team and many rules shaping our work had changed. Coming back to the Recruitment and HR department, I would have had to start over. Apart from that, I felt like working in this area would not give me as much satisfaction as it did before. I felt like I needed a change. Thus, I decided that it is the best moment to go on a new journey and that IT projects would be an interesting challenge.

I knew that any very technical job, such as software developer, is out of question. I was considering choosing something on the verge of IT and business e.g. business analysis or testing. From a time perspective, I think that testing was a better choice. Now, I know how much I had to learn. Analysis would have been a jump in at the deep end but it does not mean that it was impossible as it is all about staying motivated and persistent.

The beginning of this journey was not easy. I worked in a Scrum project and during our daily stand-ups, I listened to developers’ secret language trying to understand as much as possible. Lucky me as I worked with very helpful and understanding people whom I could ask about anything, and who were always eager to find some time for me. Right now, I feel more confident and I take great pleasure in being able to teach others some technical issues.

What are your daily tasks? What does a tester’s job look like?

S.Sz.: At the moment, I test Web and mobile applications. Our customer has a variety of different products and knowledge about them is crucial. These apps are developed by teams from Gdansk, Oslo and Splitu. Our testing team has only two people. My and my female friend are responsible for products created by around fifteen developers and we also work closely with UX designers. Client’s project managers watch over everything.

Two female testers and fifteen developers! The IT testing area has quite a lot of women. Does it mean that they have some special abilities to work in QA?

S.Sz.: That’s true. Many test engineers are women which makes the disparity between the sexes in IT projects less considerable – most developers are men. the real issue which for testing, means another bug.

I don’t think that women have innate predisposition that man do not have – it is not about a gender but rather one’s character. We have quite a few female developers in our competency center that are great in their job. Even though there is still some imbalance in the ratio between both sexes, the number of women in IT is increasing. Women sometimes lack courage and motivation to try working in a more technical department but I believe that it is worth it as such a change opens a whole new professional world.

You already made it happen so is it really so scary? What should one do to bring about such a major change in professional development?

In general, people that consider testing or going in a more technical direction should be aware that there is a lot to learn, thus you need to be ambitious and willing to develop. Some may be wrong in thinking that e.g. testing is very easy. You just have to sit in front of a computer screen, open an app, click here and there, and it’s done! The truth is that each project requires learning about the tested product as much as possible as well as applying proper tools and undertaking fitting QA activities. You need to know these tools. At the beginning, it is worth it to attend an ISTQB training in order to acquire basic knowledge regarding testing. It helps to familiarize with this area a little bit as well as add to one’s CV in case of considering working in QA.

Testing brings great satisfaction because, as I said before, each project requires something different. We learn about interesting, innovative and totally new applications that no one has seen before. On top of that, we get to know them better than anyone else and our work allows perfecting them, making them more functional and free of bugs. I absolutely recommend that!

To make project change easier for everyone that is motivated and ambitious enough to learn about new areas, last year Sii introduced a new internal application called Job Changer. The tool supports professional development and implementation of Sii’s mission which is identification and promotion of the best Workers.

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