From programmer to QA, and from Brazil to Europe!
Hello World is the first phrase learned by any IT career aspirant who is for the first time in contact with a programming language. This article would be perfect for someone looking for an international Dev career, but today I'm bringing 5 tips from my career path as a QA and my interest in taking bigger flights, namely Europe.
About my professional path
The QA world started for me when I was aiming for a Dev career. Yes, I once had the desire to be a backend developer, but along the way, in my first internship, in mid-2018, I discovered the Testing area! I had to deal with various tools, stacks, and fundamental concepts of computer science. In 2020, I faced a new challenge that required stacks ranging from API Testing to Testing in Mobile Apps (IOS and Android). Last and not least, in 2021, I worked for a company totally focused on manual and automated testing, where I found myself implementing code and applying computer science and programming knowledge.
Today I work as a QA in a Portuguese company, it is my first time working abroad and I want to share with you five tips (taken from my own experience) suitable for all IT professionals - especially QAs - who would like to start an international career.
5 tips to prepare yourself for an international quality assurance job vacancy
1. Diversify your path as much as possible
I don’t have any statistical data to say that the stack X or Y are determinants for getting an international job, but I guarantee you that the more skills you gather during your career, the better for the competitive and diversified QA market, whether it is focused on Manual, Automated or Hybrid Testing.
This is how I opened my doors to jobs abroad, having had experiences with manual testing (Desktop, API, Web, and Mobile) and automated testing (Web, API). When you are willing to learn new tools and approaches, the chance of finding positions that match your skills is higher.
2. Understand how your team works and all the related business rules
Here is another tip for those who are studying or preparing to enter the QA field: always try to understand how IT positions work and deal with the relevant application and/or service. This understanding meets two of the most important skills in Quality Assurance: the ability to abstract and detail, for example, business rules, what the modules of the application look like (even if only superficially), and what is the role of each team member.
3. Key skills for QA jobs
As mentioned in the first tip, the more diverse your stacks are, the better your chances of getting an international QA job. Therefore, manual and automated testing skills are very welcome; and what helped me a lot, in the beginning, was having participated in bootcamps, programming marathons, Software Engineering courses in college, and online courses (in programming and QA). In the marathons, I developed the creativity to test edge cases, input types, and negative flows in order to pass the online judge (a system developed in programming marathons and competitions to determine if the code generates the expected outputs for certain inputs, in other words, if the code is right based on an algorithm). All this shaped my thinking in both QA and Programming. In the courses, I got up to date and was able to understand the roadmap to becoming a QA Analyst.
Some of the platforms and websites I used to prepare myself:
Test Automation University - a very good website for those who want to improve their technical skills related to QA and Test Automation.
How to Think Like a Computer Scientist: Interactive Edition - a very complete platform when it comes to learning Computer Science and algorithms through Python.
Hackerrank - a great way to sharpen and challenge your understanding of Data Structure to algorithms.
Stacks from my path:
- Algorithms and Logic Programming in some prominent languages: Java, Python, C#;
- Object-driven programming;
- Database and SQL;
- Manual testing (testing types and strategies) based on the Test Pyramid;
- Understanding an API (using Postman) and Web Protocols;
- Automated testing (BDD, TDD) and Test frameworks: JUnit, Pytest, NUnit;
- Software documentation and Business Rules .
4. Important Soft Skills
Good professionals are not only made of technical skills; regardless of your career path, soft skills matter a lot! In terms of QA, you should try to work and improve on the following soft skills:
- Analytical - understanding how an application works in its smallest details is a very important skill when it comes to putting together a test planning and strategy, this is where we organize our mind to test and how we will do it. The concept of abstraction is very much linked to this ability as well.
- Persistent - and patient, I didn’t come out of university with a sharp eye to find every bug while testing, over time, the precision and accuracy improve, but we must always be persistent and patient.
- Listener - this skill, despite taking the third position, is no less important, because this is the skill that will give you a sense of how things work through meetings, sharing of knowledge, etc., as well as feedback from your co-workers. Always try to notice what is going on around you, it can save you time during your planning and while carrying out the tests.
- Creative - being creative may sound like something meant only for developers, but in fact, it is closely related to your ability to create test flows and ways to generate system failures (in a nutshell, this is your main role). Note that manual tests are the ones that demand this skill the most.
- Negotiator - finally, knowing how to negotiate is related to the delivery context and the relationship with your team, because the entire software cycle relies on human decisions. An analyst or tester must know how to negotiate and clarify that his/her role is of paramount importance in the delivery of a feature or system, but it can be discussed and argued when the deadline is in vogue.
If you want to know more about the important soft skills to master in the tech industry, take a look at this article.
5. Keep your LinkedIn and CV up to date for jobs abroad
This tip is of utmost importance. You should have a CV or resume aligned with what is requested in the European context. It is important to have a resume in English, as it will be a good indicator of your language level and may also facilitate the recruiter's work in case you come across companies that use it during the whole application process.
Another suggestion is to find or ask for a resume template from someone who has already been in the international market and can pick up valuable tips on positioning information, best practices, key terms, useful information, etc.
If you don’t have one yet, create a LinkedIn account, it is the recruiter's gateway for understanding the projects you worked on and the stacks that you know, so always keep it updated with links to your projects and repositories. Based on my processes, I realized that the challenges that are required for a certain position can add value to your portfolio, for example, through projects on GitHub, as well as personal challenges where you implement using a new technology.
5 tips to prepare yourself for an international quality assurance job vacancy: final remarks
If you are considering starting this journey, I strongly recommend applying to KWAN.
If you’ve read about my career path, in the beginning of the article, here's a final bonus: during 2019, I tried to apply for a position through KWAN's website and got my first international interview, however, due to the negative result, I realized that I should reinforce my knowledge before applying to a new international job vacancy. Three years later, with more technical and linguistic experience, I got the long-dreamed-of position, from that same company.
Today I work in one of the companies that belong to the same group as KWAN, InvoiceXpress.
After a few months of living and working abroad, I couldn’t be happier! 🤩
I wish you good luck in your preparation and application; you will see that all the work will be worthwhile... and who knows we might even be colleagues! Learn more about KWAN here.