My Journey into Software Testing… So Far: Keith Cole
Before my journey with PLATO started, I decided to take a step back from working my retail-level sales job. I moved home with my family and was trying to figure out what I truly wanted to do with my life. Most of my recent years have been spent working in different retail jobs, labour jobs, and any other work I could find with my high school diploma. I also spent a little over a year in university at the University of New Brunswick in an Indigenous bridging program and just short of two years in a college program at New Brunswick Community College studying business and marketing. I wasn’t finding my passion in trying to achieve any of these certificates or diplomas.
When I was four, I was gifted a computer, where my interest in tech was sparked. Since a young age, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in tech. However, with life happening and years going by, it got to the point I didn’t even know where to start. I knew from previous experience that I did not want to spend another 2 or 4 years in school, knowing I might not be able to complete it. Last spring, though, I saw a Facebook posting about PLATO’s Indigenous Software Tester Training program being offered in my hometown. I had missed the deadline for the course that summer and figured maybe I would try to apply the next time I saw one being offered. However, my girlfriend pushed me to still apply even though it was after the deadline –it was worth a shot! I didn’t know much about the training program, but I didn’t have anything to lose, so I decided to try. Unlike a university degree or college, I knew the training would only take me 5 months and then I could start receiving a paycheque. Everything came together quickly; weeks after discovering the program, I started my first day of the Indigenous Software Tester Training program.
Once the program started, the 5-month in-class portion included a lot of personal growth. It was the space I needed to develop a real passion for something I wanted to do. Together the instructors and class, who all come from different backgrounds, skill sets, and experiences, taught me valuable skills for testing but also, I think, for life. In testing and life, diverse minds bring different ideas to the table that can be useful. Ultimately, getting these minds together as a testing team is stronger than any individual.
I developed a new and deeper understanding of tech during my program. When I started the course, I did not know what software testing was. The tech industry can look intimidating from the outside. But with an opportunity like the Software Tester Training program to have a clear path and someone who wants to help you, I know anyone can have a fulfilling tech career. Dani, our instructor, and Ellery, our Subject Matter Expert (SME), were so essential to making the path clear. They are both very understanding people and experienced testers, and we all knew they were there to ensure we had the tools to finish the course. I never thought I was smart enough or had the time to get the education for a tech career, but I now carry the skills I need to start software testing. I enjoy paying attention to detail, looking for issues, and trying things in different ways to see what happens, and I am always thinking outside the box. These skills are a big part of testing software. I am here working in tech, and I couldn’t be happier.
I am currently working on completing my 3-month internship that is part of the program. I am interning in a Business and Operations Services position with Suncor Energy in Calgary, AB, working remotely from Fredericton, NB. I am on a team with an intern from my class and a remote team leader in Calgary. The first month or so involved helping with a supply chain initiative by communicating with hundreds of vendors via e-mail, Microsoft Teams, and phone to validate security information. After our first assignment, our team was brought on to help with internal ServiceNow incidents. Now I am getting the chance to take on troubleshooting and learn new software to resolve and reassign many incidents on my own. Although not all the assignments are QA-based, I am learning about the wide range of things software testers can take on. I am also gaining real-life experience on a team, dealing with clients, attending meetings, and understanding deadlines.
The Indigenous Software Tester Training and PLATO are opening doors for me that I never thought would be open. I am proud to pursue my passion and create a long career in the tech industry. I am also excited about the opportunities to continue gaining testing skills as a software tester at PLATO and be able to put them to use on future projects. To start, I hope to complete my ISTQB certification and take advantage of opportunities with PLATO to develop the skills I need to pursue Automation Testing.
In March, our class celebrated our graduation with friends and family. This was my first time having a graduation ceremony since high school. I am excited and proud to celebrate this achievement and to be able to hang up a certificate that shows the commitment I made to find my passion.