What you do today can improve all your tomorrows – Ralph Marston
IT field changes; way too fast than some of us would like.
If you are not constantly updating your skills, you could get irrelevant, obsolete and outdated. In a world of lay-off paranoia, it is a good idea to rise above it all, gain immunity and feel secure. The best way to do so is to make learning a habit.
Question 1: What should I learn?
The possibilities are endless. Some of the top learning trends of the QA industry are the following areas:
- Mobile Testing
- Performance Testing
- Functional Test automation tools- Selenium, QTP
- Test Management software
- Certifications – ISTQB, PMP, CSTE, CSQA, etc.
- WebService or API testing- SoapUI
- Cross-functional areas such as SQL, Unix, etc.
- UI/UX testing
- Security Testing
Choose an option that interests you, that is in demand in your area and is a logical progressive option for you. You can go out of the way and start learning an unrelated subject too.
When this is all said and done, there is still the “How” that eludes.
Question 2: How should I learn?
Here is a step by step process that can give your learning a kick-start.
- Know all there is to know about it. This should be your “Fan-girl” stage. Read everything related to the subject. Check out blogs, forums, free videos, etc. to learn more and explore.
- Take a free course: There are plenty of text-only and video based tutorials or training programs on the web. The range of topics is fantastic. Udemy, coursera or even youtube have various expert-led free training programs. Give those a try.
- Gather resources: Now that you have a good idea of what the best sources of information are, gather resources and bookmark them, e.g. information on some new testing tools. Make sure you have everything in your arsenal, ready to go.
- Set targets: By now you should have a good idea of what makes up “having learnt” the subject. Set yourself a target.
- Get to work: At this point, you want to have a plan that you stick to. Enjoy learning and reach out to the online community for discussions, queries and perspectives.
- Practice: Reach out to crowd-source testing opportunities or even assign yourself tasks of varying levels of challenge. “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn. -Benjamin Franklin” Involve and immerse yourself.
- Evaluate: Give yourself honest feedback about how this is going. Are you doing well? Are you on time? Are you enjoying yourself? Are you able to participate or understand discussions on related topics?
- Keep at it: Carry out this process until you reach your targets and feel confident on your newly acquired skill. Give yourself a pat on the back and then repeat all the steps for yet another skill.
Question 3: OK, one skill done. Now, what?
Things are not going to change overnight. You don’t have to radically change jobs or positions as soon as you learn a new skill. Here are a few small steps you can take:
- Try if you can improve your current day to day tasks. For example, if you have just learnt automation using Selenium, see if you can improve your web application testing with Selenium.
- Participate in Forums/Article submission sites to connect with the community
- Talk to your manager and check if there are any opportunities for your newly acquired skills.
- Finally, add it to your resume and flaunt it.
- Start with “I can do it” and not “I have to do it” attitude.
- Self-learning is the best way to start and gives heuristic results.
- When the free learning resources and classes just won’t work, try a live/virtual classroom sessions. Before you do so, research for a reputed organization and request for a demo.
- Do not undermine practice.
- When learning technical tools, make Help files/technical documentation your first point of reference.
- If things get harder, seek help but don’t give up. Be patient with yourself.
- Don’t expect miracles.
Finally, keep the spark alive!