By Michael Larsen

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to participate in one of AST’s tri-annual board meetings. This time, it was suggested that we hold it in The Bronx, specifically so that we could see the progress and impact of what PerScholas is doing to impact the community. We were given a tour of their facilities and had an opportunity to see the work that is being done, as well as reaffirm that we (AST) and PerScholas have a partnership that we want to see continue and flourish.

PerScholas is a program that helps people make career transitions, and its STEP program is specifically focused on software testing and encouraging people to make software testing the focus of their career. AST currently provides a one year student membership to each STEP program graduate, and going forward, we will continue to do so. Also, we are offering a discount for STEP graduates that want to take the AST BBST classes. Each STEP graduate will be able to take BBST Foundations for $75.00.

Another component of the relationship with PerScholas is the AST Mentoring Program. I’ve had the pleasure of working with two cohorts, and being a direct mentor to two STEP graduates. We’ve had a number of discussions over the past couple of years, and we’ve had opportunities to address career challenges, choices of focus, and dealing with team members to help everyone be more effective. I am a huge fan of this program, as it has not only enriched the mentee’s experiences, it’s enriched my own and the way that I interact with both junior and senior members of my teams. The challenge we face now is that we have had a number of cohorts that have completed the program, but nowhere near enough mentors to cover them all. We are often asked “what is something I can do to help the organization and help move testing forward?” (to borrow from our conference theme this year). My answer is “consider becoming a mentor to these recent STEP graduates, and help them grow and learn so that they can gain from your perspectives”. Additionally, I can promise that you will grow and learn as well.

PerScholas is making big waves in The Bronx, but there is much more they want to do, and many more places they want to make an impact. AST has an opportunity to help make that happen. We are dedicated to helping keep this partnership growing and thriving, but to do so, we need members to roll up their sleeves and help mentor our newest testers. Are you game?