Guest Author: Jason Craddock, Software Tester at Zupa describes starting as a Support Apprentice and how it generated his unexpected career path – plus an important myth that needs busting.
Zupa builds more than greenfield apps. We’re continuing to develop our existing products, as well as develop our team of highly skilled software professionals. Software testing jobs cover a diverse set of process-driven tasks – from gaining user requirements to the testing and recording of functional results.
This often leads to feeding enhancements into the agile development process. All of these depend on a solid knowledge of user environments and a true understanding of quality.
Give us a brief introduction to yourself!
I currently reside in rural Hampshire with my Wife and love playing darts at home, even though I’ve had to repaint the wall a few times! My idea of a perfect relaxed afternoon would be either listening to music and playing darts or video games. I find the best way for me to relax is to keep my mind engaged with simple tasks such as the addition and subtraction in darts or the laid-back puzzles in video games.
What did you study at school and have you always been technically minded?
At school, I studied Biology and Chemistry which is when I realised how much Biology fascinated me as a science. From here my technical thinking really took off. I wasn’t always technically minded but found I could naturally apply myself to computers throughout my school life. Even today I’m still fascinated by the sciences, especially Biology, and strive to learn as much as I can.
What was your first role at Zupa?
I was originally hired as an Apprentice on the Caternet Support desk in 2014 before moving into a fully-trained Support Operations position.
What was the size of the Company then?
Back in 2014, we had around 10 or 11 developers. We started with a small number of clients as we all do, but it has been a fun journey watching the Company grow around me and for me to grow with it! Over the years I’ve experienced four office moves in and around Southampton, ranging from two doors down the street, to our brilliant new home ~10 miles away.
How did Support change over those five years?
As the Company and the Caternet product evolved I found it became more user-friendly and intuitive. Fewer people require help with the basic parts of the system now (such as ordering) but this meant that the support requests became trickier to deal with because they were often more complex.
What did you do to maintain your skills?
Maintaining skills can be easy when working in a support role. I was able to pick and choose which types of request I was dealing with, depending on what was available —meaning that I could pick a ticket from a user who had a query about a part of the system I had not otherwise had much exposure to. This way I enjoyed continual refreshers across most parts of the system. They often became a learning experience!
How did this set you up for your new Tester role?
Working within the Support department in a company such as Zupa, you need to be able to adapt quickly to new software and you need a great amount of domain knowledge. The Support Desk has taught me how to think on my feet and solve problems efficiently yet thoroughly, which is a great skill to have when in a Test team.
What made you apply for the Test role?
As you’d expect, the Software Tester job description listed many technical skills. It became obvious I already met these requirements but to really add value, I could bring an unrivalled product knowledge to the team. It took a fair few days of deliberation but eventually, my craving to learn got the better of me. There was a huge sense of gravity in this opportunity, how much I can personally develop and the range of skills I will pick up and polish in this role.
What’s the biggest myth you’ve found about software development?
The biggest myth to bust is one I believed at the start of my career; software development is easy. After joining Zupa and seeing the lifecycle of software development it’s easy to see how many places it might go wrong.
How will your history with Zupa help you?
My long history with the Company has given me a unique opportunity to gain a vast amount of product and customer knowledge – which helps massively as I know how a lot of the systems currently work and how they all interlink. This always helps when testing new and updated functionality.
The interview was more relaxed than your average job interview, although that may be because I felt a lot more confident! It was a great way to express my current views of working with the Test team and how I could fit in and to the best of my ability, add value.
What tester specific training or certification do you have planned?
I’m looking forward to learning more technical pieces of software like SQL and automated testing for example. I’m also excited to broaden my existing knowledge and build upon it as best I can. Once I’m fully up to speed and feel I am personally ready I will look at taking an ISTQB (International Software Testing Qualifications Board) exam.
What advice would you give to someone who is planning a tech-focussed career?
The best advice I can give is to take the opportunities presented to you and learn as much as you can from those around you.
What are your goals for the future?
To be the best version of myself I can become.
As told to James Waldron, Content Manager. Main image uses artwork from flaticon.com