Sunday, August 27, 2017

Future-Proofing Your Career

As an experienced software tester and a naturally anxious person, I frequently don't feel safe unless I've thought through all of the potential disasters that can occur and mitigate risks of those occurring to the extent possible.

One such disaster would be job loss.  The mitigation for this is to prepare for the job I'd want to get if I had to get a new one.  This is a tough question for me, since I love literally about 95% of my current job. 

But thinking ahead, what are my skills, what do I *like* to do, what does the world need more of from an ethical/moral perspective, where is there going to be a good availability of jobs but not an overabundance of people training for them already?   

Unfortunately, I don't see a lot of growth in the role of software testing as a full time career path, although testing as an activity/mindset will still be needed.  In the six-year-old linked video, James Whittaker points out many demoralizing but logical reasons that we should not be too comfortable with our current skills and approaches.  We need to stay hungry....change or die. 

So what's next? I see a lot of "Should testers learn to code?" discussions out there -- I absolutely don't see why that's a question.  When there's a choice between learning a thing and not learning a thing...always learn the thing!  

I like programming and LOVE the addictive thrill of solving a problem with code.  Though counting on it as a career move, I am not sure how to jump my perception of a chasm between learning the basics and becoming a competent, ready-to-employ developer.  It seems like everyone currently employed as a developer has knowledge of optimization, the ins and outs of multithreading, all the tools, and thorough knowledge of the past and future of computers. It may also be my perception that others are more competent than they actually are...Or I'm actually more competent than I perceive myself.

Additionally, I love isolating problems and breaking them down to core components, experimental design, thinking about thinking, juggling multiple priorities, seeing multiple steps ahead. 

I have PLENTY to learn as a manager. My biggest strength as a manager is awareness of how much I have to learn, such as delegating and teaching and knowing whether to "help" or back off.

Luckily, identifying and enhancing the skills that would help me get a NEW job if I needed one may also assist in keeping me employed in a role that is evolving into something new, and dare I say, exciting.