fresh_princeI can’t remember what it was like to start working as a tester. Ten years later, the only impression I have left of that time is voracious learning. So yesterday’s debut of the ISST webinar series focusing on the first 2 weeks on the job as a tester was a good refresher for me.

Ben Kelly gave a description of two distinct new testers and their experiences of adjusting to the expectations for testers. This reminded me of Pradeep’s talk at CAST this year about his “baby shark” new testing trainees. I suppose that shouldn’t surprise me since they’re among the founding members of ISST.

Both emphasized that novices have an advantage: ignorance. While that doesn’t sound like a very positive description, one you might not want to claim for yourself, it resonates with me. Most of my professional progress has been made asking the dumb questions that filled in my ignorance, pointing me in the right direction rather than remaining stagnant.

But ignorance is not enough, merely lacking information one stagnates. Curiosity turns ignorance into action, transforming it into a powerful tool. (I think this is what people refer to as beginner’s mind, though I haven’t studied that concept myself.) Pradeep explains that newbies have a tactical advantage in not having been misled yet. Ben reminds us that while asking questions seems so simple it’s actually deep exploration of context, not just about business content but also about team expectations.

When Pradeep’s freshers (I think I’m using that right, right??) go out into the world to help start-ups with testing, they’re learning multiple contexts. This adds a bit of complexity to the already daunting task of acquiring testing skills. Sounds intimidating, doesn’t it? While these testers get on-the-job training, the start-ups experience the value of a context-driven testing approach focused on providing business value, which shifts from business to business.

Ben and Pradeep emphatically drilled us on providing information in the way the consumers can understand. Knowing that they have multiple audiences, testers must be excellent communicators. As an intuitive person, this intimidates me – and it sounds like other empathic testers may have similar trouble. I took my first stab at messaging about testing with members of my product team since that was most familiar to me. However, test reporting above the product team hasn’t been a big part of my career so far. My primary approach there has been getting to know the end users.

I know this webinar was aimed at less experienced testers, but I’m reminded that I could use a fresh approach myself. Like some (formal) practice in session debrief? Joining forces with sales for product demos? What approaches keep test reporting fresh for you?

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