Profiles in QE: Anne Jackson
Profiles in Quality Engineering: Anne Jackson
This year, we will feature members of the Salesforce.org quality engineering team. Each team member brings a unique perspective to their work based on their life experiences, combined with their passion for software quality.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Before I had a career in tech, my life revolved around swimming. I was a competitive swimmer starting at the age of 5 and all the way through college. So, most of my jobs also revolved around swimming–whether it was being a Lifeguard and a Swim Team Coach, or being a Store Clerk in a retail swimwear shop.
Why did you get started in software testing?
I graduated from college with a major in Computer Science and a minor in Sociology. I also did a summer internship after my Junior year in college in Technical Support, which helped me really understand all of the different things people try to do with technology (and also the issues they find).
While programming is a great skill to have, I knew right away that I wouldn’t be happy doing it 40+ hours a week. So, I looked for opportunities where knowing programming would be helpful, and where having some customer support experience would also be helpful. I applied at a ton of different places, usually for a Technical Support role, but in some cases, for a role called “Quality Assurance,” which I didn’t know much about at the time. I got an offer at a local tech start up where I was presented with a choice that would shape my professional path; they asked me to choose either a customer support role (with some programming) or, what seemed elusive to me at the time, a QA role. Accepting that QA role was the start of my career in software testing; a career that is perfectly suited for my combination of Computer Science, Sociology, and Technical Support, skills that have really helped me succeed in the Software Testing space.
What projects are you working on at Salesforce.org?
At Salesforce.org, I test a couple of our Higher Education projects. Our products are all about helping educational institutions drive student success across the life cycle, from prospect to alum. For these projects, I collaborate very closely with the Higher Ed Product Managers, Developers, UX Designers, and Documentation Writers to review Acceptance Criteria, test the code, observe the user experience, and review the documentation for both the new features we develop and also any bug fixes we make.
What are you most excited about when it comes to software testing?
When it comes to software testing, I am most excited about actually getting in the product and doing Exploratory Testing!!! When I first started testing, I didn’t know any testing “techniques” so I did what came natural to me in how I wanted to study, examine and really test a feature or a bug fix out. The process involved asking lots of questions, playing around in the product and exploring, doing some experimenting, asking some more questions, observing what was there and what was not there, etc. Basically, I was constantly learning and testing at the same time.
When I went to my first Software Testing conference a year or two into my career I was surprised that I was actually doing a thing that people recommended to do in testing, called Exploratory Testing. This was a huge confidence boost to me and made me love testing even more. I really like to focus my testing on doing what humans are good at doing- observing and following your gut/intuition about where issues might exist. I really love checking out the usability and first time experience of a product that future customers will be using, always keeping in mind that those people are as varied as the ways they’ll use our products. I have the benefit of having all the conversations and technical details about the product that we’re building, but customers don’t–so when I test, I really like to put myself in the customer’s shoes, trying to ignore the extra information I have.
If you think Exploratory Testing sounds interesting, too, you can find some good information here: http://www.satisfice.com/blog/archives/1509.
What are your favorite ways to engage with the testing community?
I really enjoy working with my fellow testers at Salesforce.org and also with previous co-workers. I’m very lucky and have worked with, and continue to work with, some amazing and skilled testers. I’m always looking for ways to learn more and improve my testing and going to these testers never disappoints. I also try to mentor and pass on all the information that I have been given or have learned as often as I can too. Going to testing conferences to learn more and share ideas in conversation with others in the community is another great way to engage.
Learn more about the salesforce.org quality engineering team!
Thanks Anne for sharing your story! Learn more about our team members and follow the blog this year as we share more about each member, and the work that we are doing.