My Fulfilling Experience at TestBash Netherlands 2019
By Ileana Herrera
Testing in My Life
My name is Ileana Herrera and I’ve been in the software testing industry in Salta - Argentina for 5 years now. It all started in a bar where I was having beers with my future boss to-be. That’s when she asked me if I wanted to apply for a testing job at her company and I said yes. The rest is history.
At first, I was not 100% sure of what testing meant until I started digging a little more into this world thanks to a friend and former Leader who kept me up to date with online information and who also introduced me to Ministry of Testing (MoT). Through surfing through the MoT site, I discovered TestBash software testing conferences and I imagined myself there, not knowing that 4 years later I’d attend one.
Getting The MoT Scholarship
I had planned my vacation to go to Europe this year, so had the perfect opportunity to attend TestBash Netherlands. My friend encouraged me to submit my scholarship application; “what was the worst thing that could happen?” I could get a no for an answer... but that was it, so I sent the email. After a couple of anxious days, MoT’s BossBoss Richard Bradshaw’s response finally arrived. I’d gotten the scholarship! 🎉
Day 1 - Workshop
After arriving in Utrecht, I was ready for my first Meetup (I had RSVPd for all three of them). I met Richard and other MoT folks.
The following day I attended Christina Ohanian’s workshop on “Experiential Coaching: Building, Nurturing and Helping Teams to Become More Effective” where we acquired tools to empower teams when we understand how they work, learn and grow. Recently, I was named Scrum Master of a Team and coming from a Tester role, it was hard for me to know exactly what I needed to do so everyone in the team was fully engaged.
Christina had a way of presenting most issues I was dealing with and provide feasible solutions. She truly is an amazing person and knows her stuff!
We had various activities but my favorite without any doubt was representing agile iterations with LEGOS!
Day 2 - Talks in a CHURCH!
In my country it’s not common to attend events in churches, you only go there for mass or praying. So, being in a conference in a church was a bit unexpected and I loved it!
There were speakers from all over the world with vast experience in software testing, software management, agile methodologies. I just kept taking notes and trying to not miss anything! Here are brief summaries of my notes:
- Risks from Human Factors in Highly Automated Systems - Andrew Brown: Practicing tends to be discouraged and testing itself becomes dull, you have a human watching what the computer does.
- A Tester’s View on the Challenges of an Agile Transformation - Gitte Ottosen: Progress is impossible without change. Agile is a journey that never ends.
- Constructing an API Testing Framework - Joep Schuurkes: How to build a framework that supports you through all your activities as a tester.
- The Illusion of Control - Drew Pontikis: The longer I spend thinking about something, the more I believe the outcome will be positive.
- Growing Your Magical Creatures - Vera Gehlen-Baum & Beren van Daele: Take the time to know your team and free up time for learning.
- The Skill of Continuous Testing - Jitesh Gosai: Testing is not only for testers, engage the entire team to do it.
- From Having a Mentor to Gaining an Ally - Anne Colder & Vincent Wijnen: Create and respect learning opportunities. Don’t face challenges alone, find a mentor to talk about your issues.
- Great Test Automation Does Not Absolve You from Manual/Exploratory Testing - Marit van Dijk: We can’t automate everything. Encourage pair testing.
- Testing in the Dark - Ben Simo: There’s a big difference between Verification and Validation. Always search for new knowledge.
I felt really blessed to encounter people that go through similar situations to me, it made me feel a part of this big and supportive community of practice.
99 Second Talks
As a part of the conference, there is a 99 second talk section that is open for all attendees to take the stage. The host encouraged all of us to do it by saying the BossBoss started in that same spot years before. I knew what I wanted to say even though I wasn’t sure if I would be able to stand in front of so many people. But again, “if you don’t risk it you don’t get the biscuit”. I decided to share my experience in working with teams. While working with teams I had to learn (by doing) how important it is to take the time to get to know your work partners and to give them a space to fail (I reflected on it a lot while in the workshop I attended on day 1). Then, the Imperial March started sounding, and that was my queue to stop. I have to admit, even though I was nervous at first, being able to share my thoughts with such an amazing crowd felt awesome.
Meeting software testers, scrum masters, developers from all over the world made me realize how big the MoT community is and I’m now working to encourage people from other teams in the office to become a part of it as well. I aim to at least show others how important it is to share our knowledge.
I feel full of energy and motivated to apply what I've learnt at TestBash back at my company. In fact, I’ve presented some ideas taken from the workshop and talks to some company higher-ups, and they were very interested in the concepts. Now we’re working with our training coordinator to implement what I’ve learnt with the team. And regarding the rest of the software testers in the office, we are organizing our first testers’ meeting to share our thoughts on software testing. What’s great about this is that the company I work for is now willing to provide us with the space to have such an event.
Now, besides sharing the knowledge I acquired, I’m also applying it and keeping myself updated with the material Christina sent us after the workshop. I’m also checking what events I can attend in my country. There are other ways to keep the conference momentum going as discussed in this MoT article.
Apply for The MoT Scholarship
I highly recommend this conference to everyone. People are beyond welcoming and there is just so much knowledge to absorb! It really made me feel motivated about my job and confident about my previous knowledge. I’m pleased and grateful I won the scholarship. So, if you can’t afford it, apply for The Ministry of Testing Scholarship.
I’m a QA Lead at Integra Media SRL in Argentina, who recently moved to a Scrum Master role. I can say without hesitation that Software Testing is one of my biggest passions yet. I want testers to know they’re not alone and that this community is a big one, we can empower ourselves together. You can find me on LinkedIn or Instagram @ile_herreramartinez.