And so say all our grads...

And so say all our grads...

Big Thoughts

30 August 2016 • Written by Jason Botherway

Having recently completed the Assurity Graduate Programme, Jason Botherway asks a few of his fellow grads about their experiences…

Which element of software testing did you most enjoy learning about during the Grad Programme?

Daniel de la Cruz: As someone with a web dev background, I was luckily already familiar with some of the material we learned throughout the Programme. But it was really good to gain a more in-depth understanding of the testing concepts that I previously only had a basic understanding of. I particularly enjoyed some of the more technical aspects of the course like DevOps, API testing and SQL. But if you don’t know what any of those are, don’t worry! Part of the reason the Grad Programme is so great is that it attracts a diverse group of people from different backgrounds, each of whom have their own experiences and perspectives to draw on. So all the training we did started from the very basics.

Jason: I really enjoyed learning about the various Agile and Lean techniques that can be applied to software testing. Learning about the benefits of Agile methodologies, I was surprised to discover that they weren’t more widespread and look forward to applying what I’ve learned to improve the quality of my testing. There were also opportunities for your brain to have a break throughout the Programme with lots of fun activities (think Lego and ping-pong) that gave you a fresh perspective to helping you understand a concept.

Karin Reid: The whole Programme was interesting although I enjoyed Tech week the most. I have a bit of a technical background so I enjoyed learning and using new tools to help me with my testing tasks. 

What was the biggest challenge for you during the Grad Programme?

Daniel: I think the transition from having a pretty chill university schedule to working full-time hours took some getting used to! Throughout the Programme, I found coffee, lollies and stretching my legs really helpful in keeping me energised. Also, during the assigned projects, coordinators liked to throw in a few curve balls to keep us on our toes. So, remember that they’re not just trying to be mean, but are creating opportunities to get you out of your comfort zone!

Jason: Coming from a non-technical background, getting to grips with all the new concepts and skills was the biggest challenge for me. However, I soon realised the other grads were on the same page, everyone was there to learn and asking questions was encouraged. It also helped that everyone around us, from the other Grads to those running the course, had a positive mindset and lots of energy. It made for a fun and enjoyable experience.

Karin: The biggest challenge for me was adjusting to four weeks of intense learning! We learnt a lot of new testing tools and concepts in that time. However, the support we received from the presenters and past grads was awesome!

What was it like adjusting to your office following the Grad Programme?

Anya Morrison: Adjusting to the Christchurch office was easy. Being the best office, of course it was great! Everyone was super lovely and excited to have us there. They want to help expand your abilities and challenge you and give you lots of interesting opportunities to develop from day one.

Although the Christchurch office is smaller and quieter than Wellington, we had Innovation Week soon after arriving so there were lots of people around, as well as interesting seminars about techniques and services Assurity offer or are involved in.

The Grad Programme really helped with the adjustment as it taught you to be ready for anything, make the most of opportunities and always ask questions! I'm really looking forward to putting everything I learned into practice on client site.

Su Young Kim: Having been told how the Auckland office was quite different to the Wellington office, I was worried and excited at what was waiting for me back in Auckland. After arriving at the Auckland office though, I laughed at myself for worrying about how I’d adjust to the new environment. Everyone was extremely accommodating and genuinely seemed happy to have me and Eugene join the team!

I’m not too sure what Anya means about Christchurch being the best office, since we were told the Auckland office was the best! Joking aside, while going through the induction, I realised how much the Grad Programme had helped us as we only needed to be briefed about things that were specific to the Auckland office. I’m excited to ‘test’ (sorry) out what I have learnt through the Grad Programme. And surprisingly, I don’t feel that nervous knowing that there’s a support network that will help me out during the process of settling in.

How did the Grad Programme prepare you for your first client site?

Sarah Atkins: My biggest fear as a Fresh Starter finishing the Programme was that once I was placed on client site I would be totally out of my depth. I was so relieved to find out that this wasn’t the case.

A lot of the activities and the ‘jargon’ used throughout the four-week Programme proved to be invaluable during my first week on site. ‘Projects 1 and 2’, although daunting at the time, really did simulate how a project can run in the real world. All the facilitators on the Programme did an excellent job of teaching us the fundamentals of testing to enable us to be prepared for our first placement. The biggest and simplest lesson really was ‘ask questions!’

Isla Findlay: I don’t think anything can ever prepare you for the sheer amount of client-specific information that you have to pick up in your first week on client site. What the Assurity Graduate Programme really gave me was a foundation to build on with my client. It taught us to look at problems in new ways and think outside the box, as well as giving us a common language to speak. Even just asking the right questions and making people think about what’s happening on client site can help add value right away.

Fiona Sasse: I was lucky. I spent a few hours at my client site the week before officially starting. This gave me a chance to understand what was happening and what I’d really be working with without the overwhelming first day experience. I think the best thing the Grad Programme did for me was letting me know that it’s alright to ask questions. It also gave me a fantastic foundation to build on – even just knowing some of the basic abbreviations was incredibly valuable.

What would be your advice to someone joining Assurity’s Graduate Programme?

Daniel: First, if you’re not sure about something, speak up. There is a good chance someone else feels the same way. Secondly, and this might seem obvious, but make sure you get plenty of sleep. It’s a lot easier to stay focused in the afternoon if you’re well-rested.

Jason: First, it’s normal to be nervous on your first day, but you will soon find that everyone else is in the same boat and you have nothing to be worried about.Get involved in as much as possible and give every opportunity a go.And, finally, coffee and good food (our grad group tested a lot of it) is the key to staying focused.

Karin: Making notes and revision helped me a lot. If you don't understand something, ask the presenter for clarification. It’s a safe learning environment! Form friendships and network at social events – everyone is really friendly. 

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