How did you find your role as a QA engineer?
My entire life I have been blessed/cursed with the gift of noticing anything and everything. I don’t seek things out; they pop out at me. While fellow humans in standard day-to-day actions don’t seem to always appreciate this innate trait that I have, it does come in incredibly handy when interacting with any software/tool/program/website, etc. Early on in my career, I would notice and bring up issues that no one else caught. After doing this enough times, people who worked in software development kept telling me I should think about going into software QA, so…I did!
What was your background?
Before focusing explicitly on SQA, I worked as a SharePoint developer for many years. In that role, I wore ‘all the hats’ – project intake/prioritization/management, BA/product owner, requirements vetter/story writer, developer, tester, trainer, maintainer, provider of enhancements, and support. Experiencing all of these different roles gave me a great understanding of what traits are needed for each role, and where the overlaps are.
What is the skill you use the most as a QA engineer?
There are three main skills that I use the most for the QA work that I do and that I feel are imperative to being a good software QA engineer: having highly-tuned attention to detail, being process-oriented, and being a clear and effective communicator. Additionally, the ability to deal with a bruised ego is incredibly helpful for those humbling times when a bug does manage to sneak past you.
What is an example of a day in the life of a QA engineer?
Hunt bugs. Find bugs. Report bugs. Enjoy when a developer kills the bug you found.
What are morning or evening routines that support you in your role?
I am quite privileged and incredibly thankful to be able to work remotely full-time. Each work day when I first get online, before I sign into any Slack/Teams/communication channels, I look through the auto-QA tests that ran the night before and, if necessary, look into any failed tests to see if there are issues that need to be addressed. Taking the time to do this while my mind is fresh and the IM pings haven’t yet started is a great entry into the work day, and more importantly, it enables me to prioritize ensuring that our environments are behaving as expected.
What advice would you give someone looking to move into a career as a QA engineer?
For anyone who is thinking about moving into a career in software quality assurance, I would have them ask themselves the following questions:
Do you genuinely love being incredibly detail-oriented? If not, this job is not for you. If so, you’ll love your day-to-day work!
Do you like tech and continually learning? Tech changes frequently and it is our job to stay up-to-date on what our developers are doing so that we can properly test their code and communicate back to them in an effective manner. A good SQA engineer is constantly learning.
Are you comfortable being in a role that rarely gets praise when things go right, but is very visible when things go wrong? If you enjoy taking a crucial role, but one that does not get the limelight, then SQA might be perfect for you. We are the developers’ safety net, but they are the ones who get the credit. For some, this is not an easy role to be in. For others, they love to be critical to the team’s success, and are okay with, or sometimes even prefer, not getting the recognition for it. If the latter rings true to you, this is likely a role you would thrive in.
Nadine Douds is the Lead QA Automation Engineer and Software Quality Assurance Department Manager at SmartMoving Software. She oversees SQA of multiple teams, ensuring that the company’s broad portfolio of applications maintains consistent, high-quality standards while balancing the demanding development needs of a fast-paced startup. She has been an integral team member in helping the company rapidly expand its engineering footprint.
Nadine’s background as a Business Systems Analyst includes document management solution creation, business process design, and process improvement implementations. She has a long-held belief that the keys to a thriving workplace are employing inclusion and empathy as primary drivers behind interactions and decision-making. A Wisconsin native, her lingering accent heralds her origins. Nadine holds an undergraduate degree in Music from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville and a Masters in Music from Youngstown State University.