From Inspiration to Action – My Journey Starting a Career in Tech

Hi guys, today I am happy to share with you my first article related to my day job. Hope that you will like it, share it and that you will leave a comment!!! Enjoy reading it!

From Inspiration to Action – 
My Journey Starting a Career in Tech by Meglena Ivanova 

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I am a Software Test Analyst. From my experience so far I can say, that this is one of the best jobs someone can do. It is creative, demanding and extremely rewarding plus it has an awesome community with friendly and intelli- gent people. When I was thinking about entering the test analyst work market I had various questions and I did lots of research. I can tell you that it takes time and constant practice to learn the fundamentals in order to become a great candidate and pursue the career path I wanted.

Although it is possible to be self-taught and still find employment as a software test analyst, attending classes can be a good way to obtain a deeper understanding of the skills required for the position you are aiming for.

I will share my observations and experience of how I become part of an awesome software team under the supervision of even more remarkable managers. I hope my story will help inspire you to start your own journey in the tech industry.

Well here’s how it happened…

A few months ago, I participated in Per Scholas’s Soft- ware Testing Education Program, which took place in their New York office in the Bronx. The course is an intense and comprehensive hands-on oriented technical 8-weeks training, and is primarily taken by adults look- ing to change their careers.

When I first entered my classroom in Per Scholas, my first observation was that this was not the crowd I had imagined. A sea of faces from many different racial and ethnic groups greeted me, covering a wide whole range of generations. I immediately wondered how much more would I have gotten from college if I had that kind of diversity in my classes. The range of perspectives and life experiences in that room practically vibrated.

During the first half of the course, my classmates and I were able to learn test concepts and methodologies along with the fundamentals of programming and test- ing tools. The training included team project presentations and assignments, as well as individual challenges and exercises, which were built up in a very creative way so we could learn easily how to apply immediately our new skills into our own projects. I enjoyed learning Git (and even created a few extra projects using Java and Python). The teacher provided us with a “functional understanding” of Git, including the ability to clone and fork repositories and contribute on GitHub using pull requests, in order to be able to submit our homework and course projects. This definitely was a valuable learning for us, though we didn’t spend that much time on merging conflicts. I’m glad that we spent time study- ing it, because for me GitHub workflow was an important part of building my online project portfolio (as repositories), as well as contributing to open source projects.

The second half of the course we were more focused on testing techniques and hands-on real world testing. For example, we spent time practicing with Keith Klain, co-CEO of Doran Jones, and Paul Holland, Managing Director also at Doran Jones, one of the foremost experts on Rapid Software Testing. Because learning to test is as much about practicing as it is demonstrating methods, during the training we spent more time on walk- throughs and exercises than we did on slides explaining concepts. My fellow students and I really appreciated seeing such quality, well commented material, both for its explanatory and reference value.

The impact of working with people with tech oriented ideas and views from diverse cultural and age groups, presented so many challenges during the course.

Undoubtedly, gaining an understanding of coding and testing, including the choice of different languages and tools was great. But from my point of view the course provided me with something even more priceless, which was an excellent environment for networking. Once a week in the cafeteria different IT professionals were invited as guest speakers for “Lunch and Learn” sessions. Individual mock interviewers and resume re- viewers were helping us to build confidence and practice our skills learned during the career development seminars. Presentations focused on “women in tech” and “software testing techniques” were scheduled after classes, so that we could have the chance to connect with more professionals in this field and ask as many questions as we could. The school also provided mentors who helped us to identify our personal strengths and weaknesses, and a recruiter who was trying to help us with finding employment.

I strongly believe that my efforts to perform well in class and to connect with my colleagues, teachers, guest speakers/presenters, and potential employers, directly helped me in obtaining a job as a Software Test Analyst at Doran Jones, a software consulting company, focused on building better technology and delivering high qual- ity business value to its clients.

Now I am collaborating with great co-workers that are funny, interesting and smart people. Working with them is awesome. Their energy keeps me “awake” and sharp. I am constantly talking and getting new ideas and thoughts to better my own ideas. I feel like my desire to be a part of something meaningful, bigger than myself, finally paid off. I realized that being a member of a highly passionate and collaborative team, working together to organize a creative environment, is a highly successful model of making ideas happen.

I definitely feel more fulfilled working in a software team, especially now that I’ve benefited from various critique and support partnerships. Perhaps it’s the unex- pected exchanges and collisions with others that I am

working with that are most rewarding for me. Or maybe it is because my team is creating the support I need when things get rough. I am not sure exactly of all the motives of why I enjoy working in this team as much as I do, but I think I will continue to see more and more reasons in the future. So far I think that making a team work well is not easy, but when it does, there is nothing better.

During the past few months, working in the IT industry, I’ve also learned that it is very hard to

catch up, and keep up, with technologies and business needs on a day to day basis. A co-worker used to say, “We’re always working with the impossible”. I learned that if we keep a balance with people skills and technol- ogy, we can do it better. So I started attending different test conferences. I become a member of several meet-up groups related to the lasted trends in the software test- ing, and the IT sector in general. I also started using Twitter and other social media platforms, which I really find very helpful, in order to stay in touch with other testers and tech enthusiasts.

There are, of course, many other ways to further your knowledge and develop the skills you need throughout your tech journey. The bottom line is that, if you want to be a truly successful person in whatever it is that you do, or you want to do, being a woman, or not, you simply just have to give it a try. It might work for you as it worked for me!

So, what are you waiting for? Pick the program, or programing language that looks the most interesting to you, and set aside time this month to learn the funda- mentals. You might even realize that you’ve discovered a new passion and decide to get a foundation in tech to advance your career! Or not. Either way, learning new tech skills can only help your career.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR . . . 

Meglena Ivanova is a Software Test Analyst at Doran Jones Inc. She completed her BC in Information Technology back in 2011 at the University of Economics, Varna, Bulgaria. She is a recent graduate of Per Scholas’s Software Education Program in the Bronx, NY, where she was chosen for a valedictorian for her class along with another female co-student. She collaborated with UpWardly Global /non-profit organization, which trains and helps skilled immigrants to find better jobs in the US/ on multiple resume workshops, cover letter reviews and networking practice events.

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