Xin’s Story as a QA and Continuous Delivery Consultant

Xin’s Story as a QA and Continuous Delivery Consultant

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My name is Xin Wang, I am a QA and Continuous Delivery Consultant as ECS Digital. I recently published a blog explaining how I went from delivering presentations on Fashion Week 2017 fashion trends, to writing functional tests as a software developer engineer.

Working in a male dominated industry has been very different to what I was used to – the approaches that some male engineers take are sometimes very different to the approach that a female would take. But these perspectives combined give you a much valuable overview which is why I really enjoy working on coding challenges with my colleagues.

Take a look at my video if you are interested in understanding why I switched my career around and how I am continuing with my journey as a software developer engineer.

Xin WangXin’s Story as a QA and Continuous Delivery Consultant
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On being a mum and a woman in tech

On being a mum and a woman in tech

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Like most people, I had a five-year plan after I graduated from university. Get a nice job and work for a great company, get married, start a family and buy a house. Fast forward five years and here I am, attempting to write a blog about how I balance being a mother and a woman in technology while listening to my daughter having a tantrum!

Being a first-time mum, I struggled a bit in the beginning after my maternity leave to get used to the idea of working again. I felt like I had forgotten how to code. Not to mention that I was given the responsibility of a Test Architect role in the client site that I am based at. I had to get myself familiar with new tools that I haven’t used before and somehow, I had to lead the team. It was daunting!

At the same time, I was worrying about my daughter all the time. It was hard to focus at work and it definitely wasn’t the best start (let’s just say that my stress hormones were up to the roofs!). But somehow, I managed to get it to work in the end. It wasn’t easy and there were still some sleepless nights (teething is still a nightmare!) but I’m going to list the things that helped me balance my work and my responsibilities as a mum.

  1. Share the responsibility

This I feel is the most important. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and share the responsibility. You won’t be able to do everything by yourself! My husband is very hands-on with our daughter so during his days off, he looks after her. Ask families and friends to help out too. We’re lucky that my mother-in-law helps look after my daughter when my husband and I are both at work. There are also times when my parents pick up my daughter from work, so they can look after her. We pre-plan our schedule and check everyone’s availability so we know who will look after our daughter on what day.

  1. Flexible working is the way forward

If you can work from home or do flexible hours, ask for it. From time to time, I work from home if there is no available babysitter that day or if I need to take my daughter to hospital.

  1. Avoid working outside hours

You might be tempted to bring some of the work home with you if you have tight deadlines but try to avoid doing this if possible. I used to bring work home with me to finish off some tasks, check slack messages and reply to emails but this meant that even when I’m home, I’m still thinking about work rather than just spending quality time with my daughter. This just made me more stressed in the end so if I do have deadlines, I try to be more focused at work and time box my tasks. If it’s something that your colleagues can definitely help, share the responsibility. Again, you can’t do everything by yourself 🙂

  1. Stop overthinking about your children

It’s natural that we tend to worry about our little ones. I used to worry a lot about my daughter at work and text my husband or my mother-in-law to see how she was doing, if she’s eaten or drank her milk, if she’s had her nap, if she’s crying, etc. and I always get the same answers – that she is doing ok. Rather than spending time worrying about things I couldn’t change, I now use that time to be focused at work so I can get home sooner and answer these questions myself

  1. Find time to learn

Now this might be difficult for some of you but if you can, still find time to learn something new every day. Doesn’t matter if it’s just for an hour or 30 minutes. Especially in the tech industry, there are always new tools coming up. So, once my daughter is asleep, I make a habit to read a book, read tech blogs, or do a little bit of coding.

  1. Find a company that appreciates you

I feel that this is as important as the first point. If you work for a company that micromanages and doesn’t give you room to improve, then this might be a red flag. It’s great that I work for a company that is appreciative of what I do and rewards those who have done a great job. Recently, I was nominated for an Outstanding People Award and it has given me a great boost to continue doing what it is I’m doing – I must be doing something right after all!

Achieving a work-life balance, especially if you are a mum, is a challenge, but it is doable. It was difficult at the beginning, but like everything else, it gets easier 🙂

Join our Women In Tech DevOps Playground on 8th November where we will be getting hands-on with Cypress!

Follow other stories from the ECS Digital team here.

Marie CruzOn being a mum and a woman in tech
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How I went from fashion writer to software engineer in test

How I went from fashion writer to software engineer in test

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“If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it’s not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That’s why it’s your path.” 

Joseph Campbell

Life can be strange. A year ago, I was giving a presentation on FW17 fashion trends. Now, I am writing functional tests as a QA engineer.

When I tell people that I am a software engineer, they often ask, “Do you have a CS Degree or a technical background?”

The answer is a resounding “no”. I have one Bachelor’s degree in English Education, one in Translation & Interpreting, and a Master’s degree in Translation & Interpreting. I spent most of my 20s in literature studies and I could give a simultaneous interpretation of your talk on Big Data, but I knew nothing besides a textbook definition. I was the classic literature graduate who is NOT technical at all.

They continue, “So why and how did you do it?”

Realising I wasn’t enjoying working in my previous role, I took a turn at coding. I quickly found myself caught up in the excitement of solving coding challenges and creating projects, which soon became a nightly routine after work. Eventually, I wanted to take on tasks more complicated than basic HTML and CSS, so I signed up to online courses to learn JavaScript and Python, such as Udacity’s Full-stack Developer Nanodegree. It was also around this time that I joined meetups and workshops, including those hosted by Ladies of Code London, Node Girls and Codebar. Coaches and other students at these events provided me with a lot of help and support. After almost two years of this practice, I decided to transition my coding from passion to profession.

By this point in time, I had already become friends with a few people who had either made the career change to coding or were planning to do so, and they all recommended Makers Academy to me. As I sought out more people to speak to and read every blog post I could find about the course, I became convinced that this was something I wanted to do. I passed the interview and started my life-changing journey: three months later, I had completed a 12-week computer programming bootcamp and got a job at ECS Digital as a software development engineer in test.

Every Makers’ alumnus would tell you that they enjoyed the ping-pong time, but only a few will tell you how intensive and stressful it could be. Here are a few tricks that helped me during the career-changing experience and I hope they can be of help to you.

  1. Growth mindset

If you are thinking about learning something new, I would recommend reading this blog post by Allison Kaptur: Effective Learning Strategies for Programmers. It’s definitely worth reading more than once.

  1. Own your past

If you look at this survey, you will realise that coders come from different backgrounds, studied various majors and speak different languages. They may be career-changers or university graduates, have a military background or working parents. Your past is not a barrier, it is your strength.

  1. Look for role models

Since joining ECS Digital, I’ve had the opportunity to work with some extremely talented DevOps and software development engineers. They’ve mentored me on everything from testing, cloud computing, Docker, and Linux commands. They’ve also talked me through their intuition about particular coding problems and recommended books and talks by expert programmers. At ECSD, we are encouraged to use pair programming, so I frequently work with people who are able to mentor me. This gives newbie engineers a model to learn from and a standard to aspire to. I feel lucky to be working and learning in an environment where a community of engineers inspire each other.

This is my journey so far. If I can change from a fashion writer to a software developer engineer in test, you can too.

Ever wondered what a year in the life at ECS Digital looked like? Explore our recent blog to find out.

Xin WangHow I went from fashion writer to software engineer in test
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My journey with ECS Digital so far

My journey with ECS Digital so far

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Michel Lebeau, 2018 Young DevOps Consultant of the Year

Background

I joined ECS Digital, previously Forest Technologies, over two years ago after a good friend recommended me. Although I had some experience in DevOps, system administration and networking through both my degrees and personal interest, it was tough at first. I started the job without knowing much about consultancy and the company set high standards which added pressure. However, I was keen to deliver and after a few months, I was up to speed and able to add value to my projects.

First year overview

During my first year, I was part of the interviewing process for new hires, went on site to deliver smaller engagements, and helped to run and organise our “DevOps Playground” meetups in our London office.

Second year onwards

Since then, I have had a varied role as DevOps consultant where I spend most of my time on-site with clients, along with producing DevOps Maturity assessments, delivering training and organising out DevOps Playground meetups. I am able to build on my experience and learn new things to add value to clients, and build and promote a DevOps culture.

Responsibilities

My responsibilities on the project are varied, I’m an SME for a few key technologies which the customer uses, so I usually focus on adding value in these areas, by helping the customer make the right design decisions, giving my input during meetings with stakeholders and other SMEs, and by implementing the solution. Sometimes I end up helping in areas that are not my specialty, because that’s what the customer needs, in which case I rely on my ability to learn fast, and on the team who is always happy to help when you need it.

Part of our strength is the willingness that everyone has to help one another, which can be seen when you request for help on Slack, and also when working on site with other ECS Digital employees, as everyone is genuinely keen on helping the customer.

Trainings

I also deliver the official HashiCorp public and private training on Terraform, Vault and Consul from time to time. I value the opportunity to talk with IT professionals from very different companies with their own sets of challenges which I find extremely interesting, and it is very rewarding to know the positive impact my day of training will have on their comfort and productivity when they use the tool. I’m flattered to know that my training is recommended to other teams.

sian.heaphyMy journey with ECS Digital so far
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