Become a software tester in two months? Challenge accepted [QA course feedback]
What makes a perfect Friday night? Writing a couple of test cases and looking through the bug tracking system? “Woah, slow down”, you will say, “I actually had a night out with friends in mind”. My idea, however, is not as difficult as it may seem. You can learn to test web and mobile applications in a couple of months. The start of a QA career is about staying engaged and persevering rather than technical skills. Later on, you can switch to programming, project management, and business analysis.

If your hands are itching to catch your first bug, take a look at the curriculum for QA course. The article below is a story based on student reviews with some commentary in between.

An hour ago I came back from work, and it’s the same old bustle. Laundry and cat each need attention of their own, and I also planned to make a casserole for dinner. Well, time to test a new recipe. And that’s not the only kind of testing today. Shortly, I’ll boot up Zoom and learn to “communicate” with a server with an API. This is an intermediary between applications. Let’s say I would like to add a map to the website of my food delivery service. There is no need to call Google: you simply send an HTTP request to the server, basically saying, “Add me a map here”. Today’s class is about formulating that request.

The washing machine is running, dinner is in the oven, and the cat is fed and happy. Let’s get that ice cream and enter the virtual classroom.

Been testing software before it went mainstream

Industry specialists say that QA fits career changers, especially those without a technical background. I’m not the best speaker on this matter, as I had been working for a manufacturer of helicopter simulators for over two years. As a construction engineer setting up, servicing and maintaining the Mi helicopter simulators, I’ve also been testing their software. Before the QA course at Beetroot Academy, I was doing it by the ear. I didn’t have a full understanding of the methodology for testing and filing bug reports.

A travel agent, owner of a private kindergarten, anesthetist on maternity leave, marketeer, and even a schoolboy: my group mates had different backgrounds and life experiences. For some, the course is a way to change their career and ultimately their life. Others are looking for skills they can utilize in their current job. Some of the students without prior experience find errors faster than me, while they take more time to set up the tools. It’s not always easy to find testing software compatible with your operating system and/or its version. If you’re stuck, you can always ask the teacher to help you on Slack. He is always ready to help outside the class. Our teacher comes prepared, shares useful links for self-learning before and after the live session, and demonstrates real software testing cases.

Pavlo Matchenko (QA teacher at Beetroot Academy), “I split the class in chunks of 15-20 minutes. At the end of each section, I take the time to see if students have grasped the material. Some may be too shy to ask questions during class. Should someone indeed have struggled with what we just discussed, I’ll explain the material differently with extra examples. The key thing is to avoid turning the class into a dull lecture. Sometimes, even digressions and jokes are a good way to reignite the audience and keep the students engaged”.

Pavlo Matchenko

Pavlo Matchenko

Okay, we’re past the 20 minutes of explanation - practice time. I’ll be using Postman to communicate with the server. This extension helps create, edit, and send my HTTP request. I open the software and choose the request method, i.e. GET… Now what? Gosh, I thought manual testing would be easier. I have the experience yet freeze up at every step. The guys are already bombarding the chat with questions. Under the teacher's guidance, we fill out the necessary fields and send the request. The reply is even scarier. Pavlo explains what the server had to say line-by-line. It turns out that a usual user interface does not necessarily mean very complex software. Working with API takes a bit more technical skills, that’s all.

You can learn Postman in a few hours

Quite intensive: 56-hour course with 50 hours of practice

QA investigates whether the functionality represents the documentation and whether the software addresses the needs of the client. Testers get their hands on a raw version of the product and are responsible for the quality the of end-product.

“The tester’s main job is to use information about the product to quickly come up with a way to find the most bugs possible”, says Pavlo Matchenko. “this is all while keeping the client and the users happy. When it takes longer and longer to find the few remaining issues, the team can take a breather. The software has reached a high level of quality”.

The course has basic theory and as much practice as possible. We allocate 50 hours for you to solve challenges from real software projects. You’ll learn a new trick, try to apply it, fix a mistake or two and get encouraging feedback from the teacher. The rest is career guidance.

What about portfolio?

The family (my new version of casserole passed the test with an excellent review) are asking, “Designers have a portfolio when they graduate. What about you?”. Well, there is no graduation project for the QA course. We take a two-hour exam covering the most popular QA tasks. It also features some of the most popular questions asked at job interviews.

As for portfolio, you can simply dissect an app or website that’s out there. Take one (preferably something fresh) and see whether the quality and functionality meet the promise.

You will not learn all the ins and outs of QA in just two months. The head start with relevant knowledge and master of tools will be enough to secure a Junior QA position as part of a team developing web or mobile application.

The teacher gives us the “fishing rod” and shows us how to use it. Catching a catfish instead of sticking to fry is up to us.

Pavlo Matchenko (QA teacher at Beetroot Academy), “Testers make mistakes, just like everyone else, but it’s better to be attentive. Ideally, a QA specialist does not simply verify that the software works. They also talk to developers, analysts, and fellow testers to know all details and business processes used in the product. This knowledge will help you do the job. I always advise my students to be curious, open up to new things, and everything will work out from there”.

Alida Arteaga
Regional Coordinator
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