Becoming a Community Boss

This blog was originally posted on Medium.

In the beginning

Back in September 2015 I officially became a software tester. Before that I had been dabbling in it while also developing a product within the company I worked for at the time. We were moving from an installable product to a cloud based one and a dedicated tester was highly recommended by many of the companies we had consulting with us up to this point.

I started googling for somewhere to get started. There was a lot of iteration involved. Try one site, get nowhere or run in circles, strike it off the list then move on to the next site. Finally I found Ministry of Testing. I wasn’t skipping past this site as quick as previous ones. The content was getting me somewhere.

Getting to TestBash

I noticed on the website that there was a conference coming up called TestBash. I’ve written about this previously. I asked the people we had contracting with us if they’d heard about it. They had and said it would be great to go to. This wasn’t enough to convince my bosses boss.

I went out on a limb and decided to email Rosie Sherry asking for help convincing work to send me. It’s been a while now so I don’t have the exact email thread but it worked! When I came back my boss said he’d never seen me so energised about something.

It was pretty easy to convince work to send me to TestBash Manchester then!

Writing for Ministry of Testing

The next step in the journey seems like it comes after the one that follows but it actually started long before that. A call went out on the Ministry of Testing Slack channel asking for people interested in writing to get in touch.

What followed was months of work with Melissa Eaden to publish 30 Things Every New Software Tester Should Learn. I’ve written about the experience previously for the Life at The Ministry of Testing publication. One article led to another and we published Gamifying Your Software Testing Career & Workplace this year. I think I’ve finally found my writing voice!

Organising a TestBash

TinyTestBash Belfast was announced before any of my writing pieces were published but they ran in parallel. It was yet another wonderful step in my journey with Ministry of Testing. When Belfast was over I joined the organising group for TestBash Dublin. I had most definitely found something I enjoyed doing.

The Club

I approached Rosie and asked if there was any more ways to get involved with Ministry of Testing. I was really enjoying engaging with the community. I was learning all the time and I wanted to help others have a similar experience to me.

The Club had just started up to replace the Software Testing Club platform. My task was to help encourage some conversations on there, particularly ones that cropped up frequently in the community such as certifications and regression testing. I also worked towards making the Club a place where people felt safe to ask questions, just as they do in the slack channels.

Community Boss

When you put all of the above down on paper, my current move makes sense. Many people had guessed what was to come when they saw a Tweet from Rosie

I still get a stupid grin on my face when I think back to the message from Richard and Rosie “Heather, will you come work with us?”.

To me, it’s all still a bit surreal! I get to do work that doesn’t feel like work because it’s something that I enjoy doing. A long time ago myself and a good friend of mine Neill were in stressful work situations. We talked about what our dream job would be. Yep this sounds corny as hell but Neill reminded me about this when I was offered this job. I said my dream job would be to work with Ministry of Testing helping them to help people who were in our situations at the time and trying to get out. I also wanted to help people learn because I’d found so many sites that steered me down the wrong track in my early career.

So what will being a Community Boss entail? All of the above that I have been doing but much more concentrated. I’ll be helping people get answers to their questions, finding content that helps them learn and helping out at events.

Once I’ve been in the job a while I’ll post a bit more insight about what it entails but for now, from the lady who went out on a limb and asked for help all that time ago, I look forward to meeting you all on the next leg of my journey.