arrow to navigation
Barbara Matyja
Software Quality Tester
Product Design
05.09.2023 | 5 min

From Climbing to Testing - A Case Study of Transitioning to a Tester

Over the years, software testing has become one of the most common first steps into an IT career. People from many different backgrounds and with entirely different experiences take their shot at testing and frequently continue careers at other positions in software development and project management. The world of IT welcomes everyone. Still, the case of our tester, Basia Matyja, is quite unusual. To find her way in IT, she had to climb down. As a climbing instructor, she exchanged rocky mountains and climbing walls for a cozy spot in front of a computer. In this fascinating chat, Basia talks about her motivations, all the steps she took on her way to our team, and her overall experience as a software tester.

From Climbing to Testing - A Case Study of Transitioning to a Tester - 2024 09
Table of Contents
  • What made you consider taking this career path?
  • How Did You Prepare for Your First IT Testing Job?
  • The First Rodeo: Expectations vs. Reality
  • What are the most important aspects that make software testing work for you?
  • Why did software testing turn out to be so good for a former climbing instructor?
  • What advice would you give your younger self (and others) before taking this path?
  • Do you have your next move already planned?

What made you consider taking this career path?

Perhaps the most important factor that turned my eyes to IT was that, over the years, I had many opportunities to talk to people in different positions in software houses and other IT companies. Especially at my previous job, I would meet developers who, even if I didn’t ask, would talk about their jobs. We all know how much they like it, right? 

But in all seriousness, I can say that I’m very thankful for that. The image they put in my mind was very compelling. 

As a climbing instructor, I had a lot of freedom. I was trusted to make decisions, manage my schedule, and I was valued for my opinion, expertise, and impact. I wanted a similar culture of respect in my next career move. From the information I’ve gathered, I could expect much of the same in the software development world. 

The money, obviously, was a factor as well. However, I knew that it wouldn’t be enough to keep me hooked. I wanted to work in a culture that fits my beliefs, and I felt that it was possible to achieve that in IT, too. 

Finally, I chose testing because it was easier than development, but more importantly, it felt very natural to me. I consider myself a perfectionist, so finding all the little bugs and helping the team keep the quality as high as possible sounded like a perfect job. 

How Did You Prepare for Your First IT Testing Job?

I started preparations sometime in 2020, during the pandemic. I knew that there was a plethora of articles and entire guidebooks on testing available on the Internet, so I started with my own research. However, at the time, I was still working intensely as a climbing instructor, so it wasn’t that easy to really focus on learning about software testing. 

Then, finally, I decided to motivate myself through financial commitment. I paid for a comprehensive two-week course, which turned out to be an excellent decision. I learned different approaches, techniques, and finished it all with an exam.  

At the same time, I was already looking for my first job. Initially, I wasn’t getting responses, but then my climbing connections helped me again, and I landed my first job as a temporary replacement. 

The First Rodeo: Expectations vs. Reality

The course I took was the most extensive one available at the time. It was almost 80 hours of learning about methodologies, approaches, databases, and tools, as well as a series of practical exercises. 

In fact, the course prepared me for much more than was expected from me on my first job. I quickly found my place in the new environment, got introduced to scrum, and started completing my assignments. With my groundwork, I’m glad to say that I wasn’t overwhelmed at any point. 

The fact that the first project I worked with was running smoothly, helped with the onboarding. I had perfectly clear instructions, well-described functionalities, and user stories. I had everything I needed to do the job. 

Some of the following projects I worked with weren’t going as smoothly, but at that point, I felt much more comfortable in my position, and I had no distractions coming from all the onboarding and adjusting to all the new processes.

What are the most important aspects that make software testing work for you?

There are a few. I’d say, first and foremost, the team I work with. As long as there’s good chemistry, vibe, clear communication, and respect in the group, I’ll be happy. Even if I was working on a dream project for a great client, I can imagine the whole experience being ruined by a team that doesn’t work well with each other. But so far, I’ve been quite satisfied with this aspect. 

Moreover, I appreciate the combination of autonomy in working on tasks in my capacity and being a part of a team, building something more extensive. 

The other part that I’ve learned to really appreciate is the remote work. During the lockdowns, it wasn’t easy, but when things got better and we could meet freely outside, I discovered that the comforts of the home office allowed me to work very efficiently. 

Why did software testing turn out to be so good for a former climbing instructor?

After a few projects, I discovered a great deal of similarity between software testing and climbing. I think it might be one of the reasons why I feel so good in both positions. 

As a climber, you gradually learn what your body is capable of, the possible moves, and where are your strong and weak spots. Step-by-step, you build a set of moves that you use to find the best way to overcome your challenges, whether that’s a wall in a gym or a mountain. 

In my testing work, I’m also developing a repertoire of moves, skills, and tricks to overcome the tasks I’m assigned. I learn those moves from developers, more experienced members of the team, and from the many available sources on the web. 

Maybe there’s not as much adrenaline, but I see the process in a very similar way. And it’s also satisfying. 

What advice would you give your younger self (and others) before taking this path?

To myself: start earlier. It turned out to be a fantastic decision that worked very well for me, so I’d just tell myself to stop hesitating. 

And to others, I think I would also want to encourage. The best part about this is the fact that it doesn’t require a considerable time commitment to just try. If I had to learn testing for a year to have a chance for a job, I probably wouldn’t do it. But it took just several weeks. You can easily take a chance and see for yourself if that’s something you would enjoy. 

Don’t be afraid of change, and believe in yourself. 

Do you have your next move already planned?

A part of me wants to try project management, but it’s fair to say that I’m far from doing anything to move in that direction in the near future. For now, I’m happy about what I do, and I know there’s still a lot to learn. I work on different projects, and I take something new from each one. 

And if I miss some adrenaline, those mountains are always there for me to climb. 

Work with high-tech specialists
Let's talk about your project!
From Climbing to Testing - A Case Study of Transitioning to a Tester - 2024 09 Read more