Alternatively, How To Get Started With anything
I was reading a blog post written by Tim Eibe, founder of www.testdemy.com. Its title is: How To Get Started In Software Testing, my first thought was: “Well, just how you get started with doing everything.”
I wrote a little comment on Facebook about it, Tim liked my idea, and I decided to open it up and write a little bit more about it!
Understand your why
When it comes to learning, think about your why and the meaning you get out of it. It is important that what you want to learn is meaningful to you and therefore engaging. Let’s take me as an example, why do I love testing and learning about it?
Who are you?
The hard part is, to know who you are, and in general, people do not. So who am I? It took me some time, failures, feedback and insight to figure out what I am about and it is still a flaky approximation. You need to work out who you are, to learn what will provide you with meaning. (Also, it will help you with every decision you have to make in your life.)
A TL;DR; about me
- I love to deconstruct things.
- I hate routine work.
- I like to make people stronger.
- I am willing to take responsibility, if necessary.
- I am ready to take leadership if needed.
Find what is meaningful for you
I want to help people, and I am willing to burden myself with it. Supporting people means to deconstruct things, to find what’s wrong. Because Issues are often unclear, I need to be creative, which is the opposite of routine.
That is why testing is my thing. It is a very creative thing to do, which is the opposite of routine (if it is, automate it), and I am helping other people to create greater value.
Let’s take something that would not work out with me: being a bricklayer. It is not creative, I would build strong walls, instead of people – it would kill my soul. Other people love this kind of work – I will not, and there is no reason for me to learn it.
I hope I made it clear: learn things that fit you, don’t learn something because it is cool right now, or your mother tell you it is important. You will probably fail if you do this, even if you do not, it will make you miserable and ineffective while working with your learning.
Attention: Motivation sucks
A word of warning, ignore motivation. You started many things and finished nearly nothing? Well, you are a victim of motivation, motivation is a trap.
Do not do things, solely because you are motivated. Motivation is lovely, but it will inevitably fade and with it the reason to do what you wanted to do. (Many people think they procrastinate a lot, but they just chose to do things they felt motivated for and nothing more.)
Let’s do the learning
After we made clear, what you should learn, let’s talk about the how, I will outline my strategy, feel free to build you plans around it.
Step 1: Get an Overview
Find out which disciplines are part of the field you want to be part of, make a list of things you find on the internet, read introductions, talk to people. You will learn that there are many disciplines in any field.
Don’t over do this phase. Maybe you did not figure out that “exploratory testing” is a subject in the area of testing? No problem, you will discover later what you missed now, or it dos not matter. Take the things you found and write a list; I like to create a Kanban with them.
Step 2: Learn one thing at a time
Now you have a map, start to explore it. Learn one thing from the list at a time, to at least a minimal viable level. The biggest trap is to know something about everything, while not being good enough in anything to be useful.
The idea is to get a good feeling for the disciplines and to enable you to talk about them. Implement some things, experiment a little, read some tutorials. The goal is not to be fluent, but to be ready. Still, don’t overdo it!
Step 3: Time to be single-minded
Now it is time for overdoing! Chose the thing you liked the most, for me it was TDD. Now learn about it and implement it until you are at a professional level and you can teach it too. If you cannot teach it, you do not know enough about it. Be single-minded, sure integration tests are interesting, but I committed to TDD. It is completely okay to be excellent at only one thing! (This is one more thing than most other people you will meet are excellent in.)
After you build yourself up to be very competent in one discipline, chose the next topic to learn about. It will get harder and harder to add new things, and there is no way to be the Chief Everything Officer. Just skip step three, and you can learn a lot in a short time.
You cannot go wrong with further specialization, and I think it should be a priority. Being mediocre in many things will aid you, as long as you are remarkable and prolific in at least one field of work.
To reach this goal, it will take effort and time. Nothing that has value comes free after all.