2014 – My Year in Review


So here we are, a few days into the new year – eight days to be exact.  I haven’t written in a while, it’s been almost six months!  I have been reading though, reading a lot, and that re-energizes my mind and puts me in the zone to write.  After the amazing, unreal, AWESOME year I had in 2013, I went into 2014 pumped and full of energy.  The first ever Montreal Insights Into Software Testing workshop & peer conference – MOIIST2014 was just around the corner, I had started a new job a few weeks earlier, and I had plans to continue my testing accomplishments and learning from where I left off.

In January, we held the first ever Montreal Insights Into Software Testing (MOIIST2014) workshop & peer conference.  I had put in a great deal of effort in the months leading up to the workshop to help organize it and it was well worth it.  The workshop was great – I did my first presentation at a Software Testing event and met some awesome Testers, both from Montreal and Testers who attended from out of town, not to mention the chance to hang out and chat with Rob and Scott.

Plans can and do sometimes change

I had a lot of other plans for 2014 – to continue on that great road of Software Testing awesomeness from 2013, and the MOIIST2014 workshop – but in life things happen and plans sometimes get postponed due to circumstances and priorities.  The first half of the year was exceptionally tough, but I was able to stay optimistic, make decisions I needed to make (which turned out to be great decisions) and I’m happy to say that the second half of the year was great!  But before things could change and get better, they got tough (and negative) and I ended up learning quite a bit from the experience.

What I learned

In one sentence – it’s never too early to leave a job if you’re unhappy.  I was hired by a Test Manager with whom I wanted to work and a great team of fellow Test Lead’s and Testers (in western Canada).  I was hired to work at the office just outside of Montreal. I never thought the distance and not being in the same office would present the types of issues and challenges that it did – none of us did.  When the individuals (especially the leadership group) at the local office where you’re hired to work do not want you there – no matter how great of a professional, tester, and person you are, no matter the things you do to make things work and change their perception – it won’t make a difference, you’re not wanted – period (that held true in my situation).  It’s 2014 and the world is as connected and collaborative as ever, but in some toxic environments (like the office environment and location I was in) you can’t stop negative, backwards thinking.  I don’t regret taking the opportunity, I learned a ton working with my fellow Testers out in western Canada but I do regret staying in such a hostile, discriminative environment for the duration I did stay (I stayed a few months but should have left in a few weeks).

Now even though the aforementioned experience was a negative one – I always look for lessons learned and I took away some really positive and important lessons that have made me more aware and knowledgeable.  I learned more about myself as a person and as a professional and experienced first-hand what I had always known, what I stood for, and what I believed in – that my self respect and dignity was more important than a paycheque (especially one coming from a toxic environment).

I learned that sometimes it’s worth taking that bold risk and leaving a negative situation without that safety net to fall into – which is what I did. I also learned that when interviewing for a job where your manager and/or team will be in another location, its extremely important to meet (in person) the individuals with whom you will work with locally in the same office, including the leadership group. It’s especially important to speak with those in the leadership group to get a feel for how they work, the environment and atmosphere they promote, how they view testing & their goals regarding development & testing and collaborating with the team(s) located in different offices/cities.  I would take the time to ask about their philosophy and if they are actually in-tune with the testing approach being taught and encouraged from the leadership group (the ones hiring you) in another location.  There’s a lot that can be learned by taking the time to do that, and may also help you make a good decision by listening to your gut feeling.

Getting back on track

Once I made the bold decision to leave with no safety net to fall into – everything (professionally and personally) started to change – I was happy, full of energy and things started getting back on track!  While I had a plan, I didn’t have another job lined up (and that can be a scary thing considering bills, house etc.) – but I had/have confidence, optimism, and my testing skill-set that I am always working on expanding. It was a bold risk I took and I’m happy I took it. Things fell quickly back into place and I enjoyed the second half of the year much more at my “new” job and was having fun outside of work, and was also able to focus my energy on learning more about software testing once again and doing the things I enjoyed doing.

Wait – what about those plans?

There were a few plans and goals I had for 2014 that I wasn’t able “execute” in my roller coaster of a year. After CAST2013 (after which I was so pumped up to attend the next CAST), I wasn’t able to attend CAST2014 as I had planned too.  I can’t get that back but I will be at CAST2015!  After successfully completing the BBST Foundations course in 2013 I had planned to take the BBST Bug Advocacy course but with everything going on and the course schedule, it just didn’t pan out.  On the plus side, I am going to take the course this year and I’m looking forward to the learning experience and challenge!

Ending off the year

I ended off the year happy, relaxed and reading a book on the beautiful beaches of Varadero, Cuba.  I feel refreshed, energized, and extremely focused (professionally and personally) starting off this new year.  While I still progressed as a Software Tester in 2014, it wasn’t the type of progress and “jump” I experienced in 2013 – which is okay.  I learned a lot of valuable lessons as a professional and as a human being from the negative situation I found myself in.  I learned to turn things around and that only I had the power to do so.  While I try not to live with regrets, if I could go back and do things a bit differently I would – but knowing that now, is a part of what learning is about.

KMF – 2015 here I come!

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