Note: This post was first published on LinkedIn and you can find it here.
I often get asked about what it takes to become a Senior, and prompted by a recent tweet I saw it made me want to try and write out some of my thoughts here…
Unsurprisingly, having worked with Stu C at ASOS, I wholeheartedly agree with what he says. But I want to go into a little bit more detail about what it really means.
What does it mean to be a Senior QA Engineer?
Well, a Senior QA Engineer is very much about impact. Impact can manifest itself in a number of ways, but some ways in which it does are:
- 🗺🗺 Leading people or a team around QA practices. Not necessarily doing all the testing yourself, but achieving this through others.
- 🟥🔴 Shaping the QA practice in the area you are working in. Again, putting in place standards, and setting the expectations around what quality is, and how you as a collective are going to measure it.
- 🤗🤗 Sharing all about the QA to anyone who will listen. Both internally (inside the company you work) and potentially externally (through the wider testing community), you want to be seen as someone who is passionate about QA and is willing to talk about it to everyone.
- 👩👧 Coaching and Mentoring more junior members around QA. This can be done internally or externally again, but it will enable you to develop great skills that will help you grow and develop your career further.
Why take on all this responsibility?
Clearly, this can be a lot of responsibility, and not something everybody necessarily wants to do. But as a result, this seniority will normally come with the following:
- More relationships/exposure – you’re talking to people across the business, you’re building strong relationships and sharing your passion for QA
- More opportunities – As a result of the relationships, people will come to you with more problems, and problems are great for a challenge or opportunity! Really helping you grow and develop your skills.
- Higher Pay – Of course, this level of seniority should be recognised and you will be financially rewarded.
Tips to help you become a Senior QA
A lot of people struggle to make the step up to Senior, and I like nothing more than helping people on their journey, through my own coaching and mentoring, and sharing my own experiences, to really help them grow and develop. As a result, here are my top tips for getting to Senior:
- 💬💬 Find your voice – not necessarily verbally, we don’t have to be shouting from the rooftop, but have an opinion on how things should be done. Have opinions about different frameworks and bring them to the table, all with the ultimate goal of helping your team deliver. Don’t be scared to voice these opinions to anyone, we can all improve through people sharing their thoughts, feedback and opinions. I was once told that I wasn’t ready to be a Senior because I was too quiet, whilst that feedback hurt initially, turn it into a positive, build your confidence and find your voice.
- 👩🏫👩🏫 Learn from others – Through pairing, or online courses, or meetups. Take advantage to learn new things, and present them back to the team. Also through pairing, you’ll pick up and learn from others, and they will learn from you as well. A win-win situation if you will.
- 👨👧Become a Coach/Mentor – You’re on your own journey, you have your own experiences, and nothing helps people more than you being willing to pass on the experience of those journeys and failures along the way. It can inspire others, it can help others avoid similar mistakes. Find someone who needs your help and give them your most valuable resource, your time.
- 📣📣 Share the things you’re doing – Not just internally but externally, build your own portfolio of testing. Get out there, be brave, be confident and don’t shy away from things you’re not comfortable with, push yourself out of your comfort zone. Write blog posts, contribute to podcasts, talk at events.
- ⏲⏲ Make time for people – This is the most valuable resource. Everyone has a finite amount of time, if you can open up your time for others, it will be recognised and will help you grow as well as others. This can be not just in the form of Coaching, but meet more people, share your ideas with others, find and tweak other ideas to solve your own problems. There is no such thing as an original idea.
If you’re interested, or struggling to become a Senior in your own workplace, or if you’re interested in becoming a Senior but not sure how, then feel free to get in touch. I would love to help you on your journey!