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Posted: Oct 12, 2023

The TestBash Scholarship Experience: My Learnings from Liverpool!

In early 2023, I decided I wanted to become more involved in the testing community. Having attended some testing and tech meetups pre-pandemic, and since then not managing to get back into the habit of being involved in the community, I set myself a few goals. Some of my goals were to post on The Club forums more frequently, start going to meetups again, start writing articles about QA topics and my most ambitious goal was to attend TestBash for the first time. 

Over the summer, I managed to start on some of these goals but I delayed submitting an application for the scholarship. I felt like I hadn’t done enough to deserve it. After being prompted by my manager to try anyway, one month before TestBash, I submitted my application where I explained why I was so keen to attend TestBash UK 2023 and then waited. 

And I got it! I was so pleased I took the leap and got over my worries about submitting the application. I downloaded the TestBash app and excitedly started to arrange my schedule around what talks, activities and workshops I wanted to attend. 

Pre-TestBash Meetup

The night before TestBash there was a gathering happening at the PlayStation offices, and as I love video games and I am a QA I felt a sense of obligation to be there! I spent the day working at a co-working space in Liverpool, checked into my hotel, and then made my way over. 

The PlayStation offices were (predictably) awesome! The gathering was in a large social area, there was gaming merch behind the bar, and cool art illustrations all over the walls - it was an amazing venue. 

There was a unique and engaging talk by Callum Akehurst-Ryan called “How video games made me a better tester”, with plenty of free drinks, and amazing food, in a fantastic location! It was a great way to start off TestBash and I got to talk to some really interesting and kind people. 

TestBash

I arrived early to the venue and got myself a coffee and some pastry in addition to a very nice Ministry of Testing tote bag, filled with goodies. The venue was WAY bigger than I anticipated. I’m not sure why, but I wasn’t expecting TestBash to be so… cool? It felt like I was at a festival but for software testing. There were bright spotlights, big screens, digital podiums, a film crew, and hundreds of seats. I remember thinking as the room filled up that it was strange to be surrounded by hundreds of other testers, with there being 3 QAs including me in the company I currently work for, but I felt very welcome knowing I had something in common with everyone in that room. 

There was an introduction to TestBash from Leigh Rathbone and then we were straight into our first talk of the conference! There were so many things to do at TestBash, it was hard to choose between everything. The app showing the schedule was a real lifesaver for getting to the next session in time. 

 

There were talks on the main stage going on throughout the whole two days. Activities like games of ‘Would Heu-Risk It?’, a session on effectively persuading others, and Testionary (like Pictionary… but testing themed!). If you managed to acquire one of the sought-after tokens from one of the volunteers, there was a TestBash-themed claw machine you could play with ace prizes available to win. Additionally, there were 99 Minute Workshops for a more in-depth exploration of testing topics such as security testing, coaching, facilitation and automation. 

Best Learnings and Outcomes

For me, my top 3 learnings were:

  1. I learned there is a way to do testing sustainably. Working for a startup with sustainability and waste reduction as a primary objective, it was a revelation to realize that there are sustainable ways to do testing and development too. I’m going to go through the checklist suggested at the Sustainable Testing Roundtable in order to see where my current team’s QA practices need to improve. 
  2. Performance testing is a feature in Postman (for free!). Arlémi from Postman kindly demonstrated some of Postman’s latest features when I stopped by the stand. I already use Postman for API testing, so using the same tool for performance testing will make things super easy and streamlined in future. I also received a copy of The API-First World graphic novel at the same time!
  3. Accessibility in testing is so, so important. We rely on data a lot in tech to make decisions, but users with accessibility needs may not be represented in this data and our solutions may not be suitable for them. If our solutions are not accessible, then the number of users with accessibility needs will be lower, like a self-fulfilling prophecy. As Testers and Engineers, we need to start conversations around accessibility to ensure it’s consistently considered to ensure people are not facing barriers when trying to use software. 

The most valuable outcome for me was the realization that I could gain so much from attending events like TestBash. Now I’m motivated to keep attending conferences and meetups after experiencing the value first-hand. I learned so much over just two days, it has given me new ideas for improvements to implement into my work that will probably last me months! There were also practical tips that I started implementing as soon as I got back to work too. 

I think going to these events really provides an edge for your personal development and day-to-day role, because you get external insights and new ideas that you might not get through your usual channels of testing newsletters or websites. Also, talking to other testers is fun! If you can, try to convince your boss to send you to the next TestBash, and if that doesn’t work out, you should consider applying for the scholarship


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Amy Stuart

QA Engineer

Amy began testing in 2016 as an apprentice and has held various roles including Test Lead. Her industry experience is in marketing automation, marketing technology, and environmental sustainability. She is currently a mid QA engineer at Olio. She has skills and knowledge in quality assurance, manual testing, automation, leadership, and management. Her main career aspiration is to use her testing abilities to contribute to ethical causes which tackle important problems affecting humans.