It's a good idea to thoroughly study the bugs that have already been found in the software you're testing. It's even better if you study other people's bugs, too. Read on in this issue of Career Development as Elisabeth Hendrickson provides a helpful guide to continuous professional development.
Jill glanced around the conference room. "Actually," she confessed, "even though I'm here to interview for the test position, I really want a job in development." She gave Thomas a conspiratorial smile. "I've been testing for two years," she explained, "and I think I've pretty much done it all at this point. I’m ready to move on."
Thomas, who had been testing for three times as many years and felt as if he’d just scratched the surface, was taken aback. Hmmm, he thought. Let's see how good she is . Standing at an empty whiteboard, Thomas sketched a dialog box with four fields and a button. He labeled the fields and then stepped back. "Here's a form from a fictional system. Given what you see, what tests would you want to run?" Thomas handed her the pen in case she wanted to draw her ideas on the board.
"Well," Jill began without moving from her seat, "I'd try some boundary conditions, some negative tests, a use case or two, and I'd be done." She looked very satisfied with her answer.
Thomas smiled. "And you'd be done?"
Jill frowned as she thought for a moment, and then smiled in return. "Yup. I'd be done."
Thomas's smile dissolved. “Jill, most of the candidates we have through here would have filled that whiteboard with tests. You've barely begun to explore the testing problem I posed to you.” Thomas paused to let his criticism sink in.
"Want to try again?"
Jill came up with a few more tests, but not many. She had no idea what Thomas was looking for, and she didn't particularly appreciate his attitude. Testing is easy , she thought. What's the big deal?
The big deal isn't how many tests Jill surfaced as much as her attitude toward testing. She thinks she already knows all there is to know.
Thomas, on the other hand, recognizes that professional growth can take a lifetime. He knows that no matter how long he spends in the testing field, he’ll still have more to learn. He takes time to nurture his skills, grow his abilities, and feed his mind. As a result, Thomas will continue to progress in his testing career.
Jill's career stalled after just two short years, while Thomas is continuing to grow professionally and personally. How can you assure your continued professional growth? Here are some ideas.
Jill was quite satisfied with her answer to Thomas's testing problem. She felt that she'd covered everything. But since testing is an infinite problem, no answer would be complete. Jill had fallen into the trap of complacency. Testers like Thomas know that no matter how many clever tests they’ve already thought up, there are more tests they could be running.
Thomas has more than a passing curiosity about bugs. He seeks to understand them: Why did the software behave that way? How can I search out related bugs in other areas? What was the root cause?
It's good if you study the bugs that have already been found in the software you're testing. It's even better if you study other people's bugs, too.
The next time you get together with a group of testers, swap bug stories. Conferences or local quality group meetings provide an ideal forum for a friendly chat about bugs with other testers working on different kinds of software.
Also take a look at public bug databases. Microsoft has an extensive collection of bugs in their knowledge base. The information in the knowledge base is especially useful to anyone working with Microsoft technology. Another source of public
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