How I got a Software Tester job without a Computer Science degree

My story

“Well that sounds right, so tell me how did you get a QA job without a degree?”

I was waiting for that question. Everything started a few years ago, I was always finding some sort of failures and strange behaviors for the apps/websites that I was using in my everyday life (like online shopping, Uber, bank application). All those defects that I was finding are called bugs ( I did not knew that back then) and today I am payed a high amount of money to find and report them. One day a friend of mine that was working in the IT field told me: “Girl, start learning and get a job in the IT field, you’re smart and you’re wasting your life working so many hours and doing something that in a few years will be automated.”

He was right, back then, I was working in finance for accounts receivable department. Everyday I was downloading the bank statement and matching the payments with open invoices. All I had to do was: copy and paste, copy and paste, copy and paste.. And the paying was not good taking in consideration that I was working around 10 hours everyday from Monday to Friday, sometime even weekends.

I was motivated enough to start learning, I tried several websites to learn programming, also some YouTube tutorials, but that was not enough and my motivation dropped dramatically after the first month. All those concepts were so complicated, I was tired with my crazy work schedule and in my free time all I wanted to do was sleeping. 
Also a part of me wanted to work more hours, so I can have enough money for rent, food, events. I did not see the value of learning some general programming concepts, because that was not paying real money, and it is hard to think about future when the basic needs are not fulfill.

My luck was that in a lunch break one of my co-workers told me that she has a friend who finished a software testing class in our city and got a high paying job really fast. Also she told me that her friend had no technical background and it was not in the category of high intelligent people.

Oh my God! She was a normal person exactly like me and she did it! Now I really really wanted to do it too.

The next day I applied for the course, it was pretty expensive, about two of my salaries + overtime, but the payment could be split over 4 months, so If I worked really hard I could afford it without borrowing money. I told the good news to my co-worker, she was surprised and not emotionally ready to start the course yet.

Guess what? The next day she’s announcing me that she applied too, and that it will help to do the course together so we can motivate each other to continue.

Keep learning

After like 2 months of interviews and online quizzes the class was created and the course started. We were 16 people in the class, with very diverse backgrounds: music teacher, game tester, mechanical technician, accountant, cashier, stay at home mom and so on. Different people with same goal: graduate the course in 4 months and get a real job as a software tester.

The classes were scheduled every Saturday for 6 hours. The course was covering only manual testing, we had many practical exercises, also a teacher in front of us that could answer any of our questions. I enjoyed being there, but I was really tired that summer, I was working all week days, going to course Saturday, and Sunday was dedicated to preparing my homework and trying to catch up with sleep. I was not the best in the class, my homework was incomplete sometime, but that was only because I was too tired to put more effort in making them great. Those 4 months were the hardest in my life, but I had my dear colleague to make me continue and not abort the classes.

When the course graduation period was approaching I started to send my newly done CV to all companies that had a Quality Assurance position open. In the case of no answer I was planning to send it to all IT companies in my area even if they do not have any position open.

Well my phone rang and I was invited to my first interview. All I can say is that it was awkward, I made a mess trying to solve the logical problem they gave me. I started blushing and the control over my voice was lost. The interviewer did not like my answers at all, I could read that in his face, but it was too late to change anything. After a week I got an email that they found someone more suited for the job. I was disappointed, I already graduated the course and no other company contacted me.

After a few days my phone rang again. It was a friend of a friend, he was already in a programming internship at a company and they were looking for interns for testing too. I was a little bit skeptical, I wanted a job, not an internship but I was not in the position to be pretentious. I went to the interview, everything went surprisingly well, I knew the answer to almost all the technical questions as it was stuff learned at the course. Next day they called me to tell me I got accepted. I quit my finance job, even though the pay for the internship was really low, only the minimum salary, all the money went to food and rent, also I did not had a guarantee that I will be hired after those 3 months. But I assumed that risk, because I wanted to be brave and make a long term plan.

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