Guest Post: James Fairclough: Life can be testing

James was our featured presenter for our February #MidsTest. We requested James to do a guest post on how it was for him to do a talk (his first) at our meetup. This is his version of events. A separate summary report with some pictures is available here.

What it was all about

This was a talk that aimed to address where your skill set as a tester might benefit you in your life out of work. The talk looked at some soft skills, drawing inspiration from ‘Black Box Thinking’, analytical skills and hard skill set. The talk was formatted as a story telling from the perspective of myself, the talks author. Broadly – it’s an ongoing investigation and thus far produced little more than self amusement. Watch this space for ‘Life can be Testing v0.2’!

Experience report

Firstly, I’d like to recommend that anybody who frequents this meet up, or any other, to get up and do a talk!

In November, when I was approached about preparing a talk for #MidsTest meetup I was clueless about what value I could add or knowledge I could bring to the table. After some deliberation I decided to attempt to answer a question I’d been asking myself for a while; If I was a builder, I could work on my own house. If I was a mechanic I could help my friends out when they had car trouble.. but as a tester – what can I do?

The important part to look out for in the above is ‘attempt’! Basically, I’d position the talk as an early version. One of my opening slides quoted it as ‘v0.1’. I’m positioning it this way because I struggled to find many practical uses for my skills as a tester and the talk content predominantly demonstrated a series of stories/demo’s where I’d either tried to shoe-horn-in some relevancy to testing or I’m plainly trying to amuse myself! [for anybody who saw the talk – think selenium abuse]. A bit of a failed attempt maybe but I feel the journey I went on to discover a place for testing skills in the real world was one worth presenting.

The next step for me is to continue the journey of discovery – find a place outside of work where testers get a byproduct of our skills. To support me on this journey and engage the community in taking part, I’ve started a slack channel that we’ll be able to use as a forum to chip in ideas/demos or just share some [questionably NSFW] projects. I’ll publish the details again publicly when I’ve had a chance to administrate the channel a bit.

Reflecting on my opening statement, even a failed attempt to produce some content made for an interesting talk – so if you’re doubting yourself or wrestling with an idea then get in touch with Ranjit or Raji and book a slot for a talk! If nothing else you’ll learn something.

Thanks for having me and hopefully we’ll do v0.2 at some point soon!

– James

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