Looking back on 2017 and ahead to 2018

I have been thinking about my journey as a tester, having started as a trainee back in January 2012. The longest I had ever been in a job previously was four years, so I had no idea if I would still be doing this job by that same point, and if I were, would it be at the same company.

Six years later I am doing the same job, for the same company, and I know that this isn’t just a job for me, but a career that I want to improve at.

As such, I decided to do what others do around the new year, and look back at the past year, think about their accomplishments, and where to go next. What follows is that, purely around myself as a tester, and how I want to keep doing it.

What I did in 2017

I moved into the MI & Data team where I work, where I had minimal experience previously. Whilst I still have some way to go before mastering this area of testing or claiming to be an expert in it, I can give an overview of what it is if someone were to ask, and understand terms such as ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) and what a Data Mart is (no, it is not a magazine about Data).

I attended two TestBash testing conferences, in Brighton and Manchester. I have talked about them both previously on my blog (links here and here), but in summary for Brighton I attended the main conference day, as well as trying out TestSphere the day before due to getting to Brighton that day. And for Manchester, as well as the conference I also attended the all-day workshop on Exploratory Testing, which was very insightful and enjoyable. In addition, I also gave a 99 second talk at both events, which has made me keen to do more.

I attended five of my local testing Meetup, and I presented a session as well. I didn’t attend as many sessions as were available, and hoping to be able to attend at least six this year, as well as present again.

I continued to support the Test Community of Practice (CoP) where I work, where 22 sessions were held over the year (and not all of them with me presenting/facilitating). The fact that it is still running after almost 18 months gives me a tremendous sense of pride and accomplishment. But I couldn’t do it all alone, and towards the end of the year after asking for volunteers to help out, had a team of seven who were able to help me run sessions, plan topics, and be a sounding board for any ideas to improve the CoP.

Towards the end of the year, looking at the Test CoP wasn’t enough for me, and I began to get more involved with the Agile CoP as well. I shared my experiences from the Test CoP, what has and hasn’t worked, how to get people involved, mistakes I’ve made that they could avoid. I went from simply attending, to helping run a couple of sessions, including their first retrospective to find out how the community thinks it is going, and getting them to highlight the successes and areas to improve so far.

I wrote 15 blog posts here! I started well, but as the year went on I started to lose momentum. My intent was to write one a week, and whilst 15 seems good, in terms of my goal it is only 15/50, and 30% achieved is no measure of success for anyone. Sometimes it has been hard thinking what to write about. Other times I’ve just not had my head in it, and would rather write nothing than do a poor job. Even this post is late to being written and posted. But hopefully by doing it, I will jump start my motivation and passion, and these will become more regular again.

What I want to do in 2018

Blog more often. Getting one a week may be too much for me, based on last year. But if I can get one a fortnight, or even double last year, I will feel like I have made a difference in myself, and maybe in others too. One thing I have been thinking about is trying to go for small posts, although with the length of this post, I am not following that plan very well…

Get more involved with my local Meetup. As I mentioned earlier, I want to present another session this year, but I also want to see what other ways I could help. One way I am starting with, is seeing how viable it would be to have it hosted where I work, which could get some new people attending, and be much closer to my house.

Continue attending conferences. I have tickets booked for two more TestBash’s this year, Brighton and Utrecht.
For Brighton I am at it for three days, doing a pair of workshops, then the conference, and finishing with the open space on the Saturday, which from photos and Twitter posts from last year, look very interesting. I also applied for their UnExpo which they are trialling for the first time. No idea if I will be successful, but I certainly won’t get a stand if I don’t apply.
For Utrecht it will be my first time going abroad for a conference, and feel a bit weird as I will be going alone. Whilst I travelled alone for the other conferences, as this is in another country it feels a bit weird in my head. Hopefully meeting up with others for the social events will be good, so if you are going, please get in touch! I’m also intending to give a 99 second talk at each, and whilst I don’t know what I will talk about, I am planning to wear my Robin hoodie again as it feels like a tradition.

I want to submit a paper for a conference by the end of the year. Right now, I have no idea what I would submit, but who knows what conversation I might have or blog post I read, which can get the cogs going and get me thinking on something. I may not succeed in speaking at a conference this year, but by submitting the paper, if I am unsuccessful I can at least use the feedback to improve any later attempts.

I want to run my own testing conference. As if submitting a paper for another conference wasn’t enough, I have been thinking about starting my own. It all started when I was asking on the tester Slack channel for conference suggestions, and as they were coming in I complained that they are never near me (Midlands in the UK), and in the North East, North West, or South. I was asked why not start my own then, and instead of shrugging it off as a crazy idea, I began to think how viable would it be to do so.
Since then I started looking at guides online, what other conferences have done, potential venues such as local universities, and asking on social media. I also had Field of Dreams references made, as well as it jokingly called LeeBash by people I know, although it does sound like a bunch of people will beat me up.

I want to be a better tester. I don’t want to get complacent, think that there is nothing more I need to learn about testing, and that I can do a good enough job and that should do. I don’t know in what ways I want to improve, but I do know that if I don’t think about it, I won’t try to.

Thank you for reading, if you have any thoughts or feedback, please leave a comment below, or get in touch via Twitter.

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4 thoughts on “Looking back on 2017 and ahead to 2018

  1. I’m not going to Utrecht, but I have travelled there from the Midlands as an independent traveller in the past, so perhaps I can be of assistance. I assume you’re going to be flying from Birmingham, and then travelling on to Utrecht by public transport.

    I found the Netherlands to be an easy country to be a foreign visitor in. On one occasion, I helped out at an exhibition in Utrecht for four days; we had signs up in English and Dutch to say what our stand was about, and they said that we all spoke English and two out of the three of us on the stand spoke German. In four days, we had one person who didn’t speak English and no-one tried speaking to us in German.

    If you have any particular questions, I’ll be happy to try to help.

    Liked by 1 person

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