I was a tester for many years before I thought about attending a conference. I was lucky enough to start with CAST. CAST, and the people I met at CAST changed the trajectory of my career. I’ve met brilliant and enjoyable people from all over the world – some of them lifelong friends, some future co-workers and managers, and many that stretched my mind – because I went to CAST and connected with a global software testing community.
Shortly after I attended CAST for the first time, I enrolled in BBST Foundations. It was one of the hardest and most rewarding things I’ve ever done for my career. I’ve seen my classmates enjoy professional success since the course as well. BBST made me appreciate rigor, and awakened an epistemologist in me.
Speaking at CAST and presenting a Tutorial at CAST were two huge milestones in my career. They changed how I thought about myself and what I was capable of. The appreciation and respect from the community gave me confidence to reach higher.
Serving as an AST Board Member is one of the most meaningful experiences I’ve had in my career. Thinking about how I can serve the community and the world has changed how I approach many things in my life. Planning conferences that serve the community and the overall work of running the non-profit organization have been valuable experiences that would be hard to get any other way.
Because of AST, I’ve been able to have all of these experiences to help me build a successful career in software testing. Trying to pay it forward with service to AST only increased my debt, as I’ve learned and experienced even more.
I joined the AST just as I became a tester. I was looking for resources to help me understand what testing was and had found a book, Lessons Learned in Software Testing, that described testing in a way I found extremely intuitive.
I researched the authors (Kaner, Bach, Pettichord) which led me to the Association for Software Testing and then the Black Box Software Testing courses.
I won’t lie, I found the Foundations course intense. Really really intense, but also inspirational. It provided the underpinnings of my testing career: an appreciation of both expertise and experience and the motivation to apply them appropriately in context.
These principles have served me well when I come to test anything, from software to systems and even to myself.
I found AST pretty late in my career. Well, I found testing conferences in general late in my career. I started in development and knew only about developer conferences and few of the local testing conferences. The local ones focused mainly on a traditional testing methodology and didn’t really inspire me much.
When I started looking into speaking I found a whole new world. Copenhagen Context was my first international testing conference and the year after I was accepted to do my first workshop, as well as a talk, at CAST in Cocoa Beach.
I remember standing on that stage, looking down and seeing Lisa Crispin in the front row. One of the people who had laid the foundation to my view of testing.
Lisa was also the first one to ask a question. Well, more of a disagreement really. But that actually was my biggest take away from CAST. People could ask questions and challenge statements – but in a friendly and interested way. It made me grow a lot to have to, and have the opportunity to, twist and turn my own truths on stage – in front of people who had inspired and taught me. And have continued to since then!
This atmosphere continued in the hall breaks, at dinners and afterwards. I met so many new people, found so much new inspiration and learned so much. It definitely gave me a big boost in both my speaking career and my seniority as a testing professional.
Being accepted into, and serving on, the board has been another large growth opportunity. I have had to learn about marketing, communication, social media, writing for a larger audience and of course – the board meetings and CAST planning have been intense learning opportunities in themselves.
I consider myself very fortunate to have found the Association for Software Testing many years ago when I was first starting my journey as a context-driven tester. The AST is, in my opinion, the only credible professional association for software testing and being part of it has afforded me many benefits.
The AST’s conferences are truly unique and genuinely focus on conferring. Being part of CASTs in New York in 2014 (as a delegate) and Nashville in 2017 (as a speaker) demonstrated how special these conferences are and how the AST’s lack of commercial interference makes for very different – and I would argue, more valuable – conference experiences.
In supporting me to help organize the AST-branded conferences in Melbourne (in CASTx18 and TiCCA19), the AST again demonstrated their commitment to community building and professional development. The experience I gained by working on these conferences alongside the AST has been highly valuable to me as a professional and member of the broader testing community.
The standard of AST training courses is high and I’ve witnessed first-hand how valuable they can be for testers of various levels of experience while mentoring colleagues through these courses. The courses represent incredible value for money and contrast starkly with offerings from other organizations more focused on profitability and standardization of our craft.
Perhaps the most valuable aspect of my relationship with the AST has been the amazing people I’ve met and formed both professional and personal connections with. Many of these people have been pivotal in my career progression and become part of my circle of trusted advisors.
As a volunteer-led not for profit organization, I’ve made efforts to contribute back to AST by helping to organize conferences, assisting board members with various initiatives and even running for the board myself in 2018.
The professional growth and feeling of belonging that comes with AST membership and volunteering are important parts of my professional identity. I recommend AST membership to anyone with an interest in furthering their knowledge of the craft of software testing.
In trying to understand more about what being a tester was all about, I found testingeducation.org, and started reading things by Cem Kaner, and James Bach and Michael Bolton and then I stumbled across conference presentation materials from CAST 2006! And it was like finding treasure. There was a conference! And these guys were presenting things at it! I had to go. I managed to convince my boss to pay the conference fee and I paid for my flights and accommodation to attend CAST 2007 all the way from South Africa.
From then on, my eyes were opened to a world of passionate testers who have inspired and challenged, supported and nurtured me. I have had the opportunity to learn, through BBST, to do the instructor course, to speak at various CASTs, to co-program chair CAST 2013 and now to be part of the board of this very special organisation. AST has been a huge part of how I have grown and developed in my career and I will be forever grateful for the community and support it has given me.
Back in 2008 I joined my first startup as the sole tester. At that point I had only ever worked for large financial companies. My on-the-job training began failing me as those practices were based more on tradition rather than an understanding of what we were doing and the value it provided.
In my search for help I read Lessons Learned in Software Testing, which led me to the Association for Software Testing. Through the AST I found the BBST courses which changed the way I understood software testing. Each course brought a greater level of understanding and a deeper respect for the complexities of the problems we seek to solve with software. I decided the best way to continue learning was to teach it. It’s been a huge part of my life and my contribution back to the community. I’ve been an AST member ever since!
Through the years I’ve met many wonderfully smart people who challenge my thinking and continue to impact on how I think about software. This in turn has helped accelerate my career and given me a solid foundation for tackling future problems.
My first few conferences I visited as a delegate were a local Swiss one and some big commercial conferences in the US. I remember having seen CAST 2010 advertised and I did not dare register, because I thought this is really for the world-class and I am not good enough.
It took me another two years to gather all my courage when I went to CAST 2012, including the Test Coach Camp that took place the days before the conference. Almost immediately, I made connections to a wide variety of testers, many of which I met several times in the course of my testing career. I felt like having tapped into a secret knowledge club of badass testing professionals.
Some of the people I got to know through the AST were instrumental in my career progression; I would not be where I am now, were it not through the contacts I built through the AST. In that sense, the AST has always been my intellectual home base, and because of the existence of the AST, I am a happier person than I would be otherwise.
My first encounter with the AST was back in 2007 after I visited a STAR East and was introduced to the work of James Bach and Michael Kelly. I wanted to know more about exploratory testing and found the AST. I became a member and started to collect information to build up my knowledge. I visited some special interest group sessions before I went to my first CAST conference in 2011.
From that moment on I was really hooked. I visited more CAST conferences and more special interest group sessions and even organized them myself with the support of the AST. In 2013, I did my first AST BBST course (Foundations) and in 2015, I became instructor for all the AST BBST courses.
The AST brought me in contact with a lot of interesting people from all over the world. Every CAST conference was unique and special. Always a great learning and social event. In 2018, I ran for the AST board and got elected. On the board I was occupied with the learning activities of the AST and was assigned to organize the CAST 2020 conference (which will not take place due to the COVID-19 crisis).
The AST gave me the opportunity to grow as a professional and enriched me with a lot of knowledge and personal friends.