Why didn't I think of being a software tester? Ah! Maybe because there wasn't anything I heard about software in 1980's but what about children today? They still say, "I want to be a pilot, a naval commander, a ramp model, a cricket player, a tennis player, an actor, a Formula1 driver, a Software Programmer, a Scientist"
I was investigating the history of how certain professions and sport are more popular and aspiring to many young people and discovered a few things about it.
Visibility: The idea of what a human does in a specific profession must be visible or made visible to a larger group of people who might not be in that field. For instance, my brother decided he'd want to be in army after he watched a movie "Border" and wanted to fight for the nation. In 1990, I watched "E.T." ( no, not Exploratory Testing but Extra Terrestrial ) and wanted to be an astronaut to be able to talk to aliens. A friend of mine watched Jurrasic Park and wanted to be a software programmer and a hacker. In parallel, I watched Kapil Dev's cricketing skills and wanted to be like him. Today my favorite sport is Table Tennis. Table Tennis has undergone a huge change in last few years to make the game more visible to the general public. Can you believe the ball size has been increased?
If you look at the Bolywood, you would see that one person inspired another to get into acting, music or direction. It was finally a movie ( Edison - The Man ) that changed my whole life downside up where I witnessed Thomas Edison's invention, hardship, work, experiments, challenges. I wanted to be an inventor and so am I, today, an inventor of tests.
Money & Richness: As a child, I didn't know the money behind each of these profession that I wanted to be in. When I discovered that cricketers are some of the richest people in India, I did dream a little bit about it and then the dream changed to movies, and then to something else that interested me at that time - complex electronic circuits. So, I did my Bachelors in Electronics and Instrumentation Engineering to help myself earn money being an Electronics Engineer. I am so close to electronics always, you see. When I am typing this, I realize a thin slice of key board separates me from a complex circuit. Being an independent consultant in software testing in India, I must admit I make more money than 98% of testers of my age or years of experience. Forget money, I feel, I am rich with testing knowledge and skills. I admit I am greedy to be more rich this way.
Parents: are a huge influencing factor. My father always talked about science to me. I used to ask him questions about science and engineering and he kept encouraging me in many ways by getting books on science or taking me to a science fiction movie. My mother was interested in Biology but I wasn't. I think my parents helped in fostering my curiosity. For a birthday gift at my age of 11, I got an Electronics - Make it Yourself kit from my parents that I assume as another key factor. So, testing suits me since it demands curiosity. In many countries, I do see the influence of parents on their children. The Bach Brothers ( James & Jon ) despite being software testers are also writers, like their father Richard Bach.
Community Respect & Relatives: plays an influential role for some people. I have heard during my relatives marriage and other social meeting about people boasting that their son or daugther got a job in IBM as a software programmer or a job with Microsoft at Redmond. So, hearing such words inspire other people to think of it so that they could boast about a similar thing later. They go back home and ask their children to aim for being a software programmer in IBM or Microsoft. Today my parents communicate proudly to their friends, "My son is a tester who is quite reputed for his work around the world." ( Ah! They do know about some of you who hate me and would not agree to that statement. )
Friends: often influence each other by introducing them to new professions that one might not have heard about. I still remember, a friend of mine who influenced me to be more serious about Electronics by showing a pocket radio that he had assembled. I wanted to do something like that and maybe even more. I quenched the thirst during my 3rd year at college by making the first telephone controlled gas stove knob with a circuit a size of Nokia Pocket communicator.
Mentors: During my first year at work, I worked with a tester who was trying to get on to the development team of the same project as he didnt like running test cases. I was influenced by him to learn programming and try my hands on programming. Although the organization who had hired me as a tester didn't want to take me as a programmer because they felt I was being useful to them as a tester, it helped me learn some bit of useful programming. I tried learning programming with the help of a System Architect and a Senior Programmer of the team, they helped me learn how equally challenging was testing activity by testing every program I wrote.
Professional Gurus: Oh! You know this. James Bach and Michael Bolton are my gurus. I have witnessed their testing online and have been constantly tested by them. They helped me clear the darkness I used to see in software testing and become a constant learner and practitioner.
Challenges & Fun: are something that everyone look forward to in any profession they want to be in. What most of the testers and people kept hearing about testing so far is - There is a process, we simply follow it. There is a test case, we simply follow it. There are those two things, we simply follow it. There is a tool we record and play everyday. There ain't any fun there ain't any challenge in following and merely recording and playing.
Exploratory Testing and Rapid Testing is gaining huge ground in places like India, ( ask me how many people are booked for my upcoming Exploratory Testing workshop and from where all they are coming and who are they ) software testing is becoming more fun, more challenging, and testers are constantly exploring lots of new things and discovering and inventing and more...
My analysis of Why Software Testing hasn't been that much of an attractive field so far?
- It lacked (past tense) visibility
- It lacked information about testers making money
- It lacked community respect
- It lacked parents awareness of the profession
- It lacked friends awareness of the profession
- It lacked good mentors
- It lacked enough professional gurus
- It lacked enough freedom being given to testers and hence wasnt challenging
Videos like this one which aids more visibility into our profession
and like this one which aids the curiosity of existing testers
and like this one that demonstrates the financial gain
and like this one that demonstrates the fun in being a /thinking/ tester as opposed to being a certified tester
And like this one that demonstrates the challenges
And like this one that demonstrates the exploration of new ideas to find bugs
While you are reading this, a child somewhere in the world might have opened Youtube and searched for E.T and hit this video and might be dreaming of becoming a software tester. I bet this is happening. I realize we haven't seen a father son tester combination but we have heard of Bach brothers.
Today is the foundation for tomorrow. What are we doing today?