Thread: Need serious career advice from the elders here

  1. #1
    Registered User
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    Dec 2014

    Need serious career advice from the elders here

    Hi all, I have recently graduated with a Software Engineering degree. I have found a job as a Test Automation Developer writing frameworks in ruby/cucumber to test other applications that have been developed. I will be doing a 6 month contract, but I do not want to be a test engineer for the rest of my career. I would like to move into actual development and start my career being SDE instead of SDET. I would like to know anyone's input on this and how well I would be able to transition to SDE.

    I'm only doing the automation (SDET) job for a contract of 6 months. In that time I hope to learn and excel my programming skills. What I'm saying is, I don't want employers to stick me in the test developer category and not give me a shot at development. I feel that the Tester role is looked down upon slightly. Does anyone have any experience with this? Transitioning? What can I do to keep my programming skills sharp during that 6 month period? What is the growth opportunity within the Test engineer role. What is the SDET vs SDE salary gap, or is there one?

    Just a little overwhelmed here, any advice would be much appreciated.

    Thank you.


  2. #2
    (?<!re)tired Mario F.'s Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006
    I started my career as a Software Engineer as a backup administrator of IBM mainframes, for Alcatel. More specifically, the IBM ES9000, operating its 1/2'' open reel tapes. My shift would start at 6 pm and end at 3 am. I would do Saturdays and only day off was Sunday. Probably couldn't be worse. So I'd say, like a good Spartan, you are on to a good start.

    Don't fear your early contracts. Grab hold of the opportunities as they arrive. I'd stick around during the day, for instance, and offer my help to the Cobol development team and help handling the VAX/VMS administration (involving batch programming) until someone noticed me. But it was not until my 3rd job that I actually managed to sit comfortably as a software developer, and only much later, 3 years later, as a software engineer.

    Today's job market is a whole lot more competitive. In my time software developers alone, more so software engineers, were seen as wizards. So I'd say you have to earn your stripes in ways that I didn't. Especially if you are interested in operating in and around the big business. So, in addition:

    • Do not end your studies, go well past your degree.
    • Refuse any of the dogmatic views that have established themselves around software development. Open your horizons, have a need to learn a little of everything and specialize in a few areas. See the benefits of everything and learn the disadvantages as well. Be neutral and objective. Be a professional, not an annoying fighter.
    • Everything you do, do well. Try to be the best. That includes your present job. As my father would say, even if you want to be a thief, at least be an excellent thief.
    • Do not marry to soon. Do not have kids too soon. Establish your career first. Today's market demands are going to take a bit of your soul away. Might as well not be that bit were your companion or children sit.
    • Keep developing pet projects of your own. Even if you don't go through with them. You'll keep your skills in check, while applying any new knowledge you gather. But don't fear wasting too much time without programming. It's like riding a bicycle. You can no longer forget all about it. You'll just read the manual again and relearn what you've forgotten. It's even easier the second time.
    Originally Posted by brewbuck:
    Reimplementing a large system in another language to get a 25% performance boost is nonsense. It would be cheaper to just get a computer which is 25% faster.

  3. #3
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    Dec 2014
    I have hired quite a few people in design and programming for web projects, and while work experience is very important, echoing what Mario F. said about pet projects. If you can show that you have a passion or interest in other areas of programming, that will stand you in good stead, and show you want to build things. Bonus points if the projects happen to be relevant to the company you are applying to.

    6 months in a related industry is not a long time. If you had 3 years working retail, that would be an issue leaving employers asking why to hire you.

    When writing up your CV, make sure that you focus on the outcomes that you learned as a tester that you can apply to writing 'real' code.

    Also, even though you have a job at the moment, start making contacts through LinkedIn etc and perhaps some speculative letters to potential employers so you can move to another job as soon as you finish your contract.

  4. #4
    Officially An Architect brewbuck's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Portland, OR
    Nobody is going to define you by what you did your first 6 months out of school... Don't worry about it.

    The people I know who have broken out of testing into development all shared a few things in common:

    * They never looked at testing as a "second best" job. While they were doing it, they were passionate about it. You want to complain about testing? Welcome to testing for the rest of your life.
    * They spent the majority of their time inventing new ways of testing things, not banging out more tests. People who bang out code are seen as monkeys. Your job is to characterize, quantify, and provoke failure. Act like a scientist.
    * They interacted directly with the developers of the code they were testing and never gave them any peace. Devs will be grumpy about what you are doing and that's ok. It means you're doing your job right.
    	if (a) do { f( b); } while(1);
    	else   do { f(!b); } while(1);

  5. #5
    Master Apprentice phantomotap's Avatar
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    Jan 2008
    Today's market demands are going to take a bit of your soul away. Might as well not be that bit were your companion or children sit.

    I love this comment.

    “Salem Was Wrong!” -- Pedant Necromancer
    “Four isn't random!” -- Gibbering Mouther

  6. #6
    Registered User Alpo's Avatar
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    Apr 2014
    Quote Originally Posted by phantomotap View Post

    I love this comment.

    No market demands will ever take my love for this comment! *Shakes fist at market demands*
    WndProc = (2[b] || !(2[b])) ? SufferNobly : TakeArms;

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