We met Leila at Ministry of Testing's TestBash Brighton at the beginning of the year and it's been upwards since then.
Leila talks us through her journey of having a five-year career break to be a full-time mum, to deciding testing was the path she wanted to follow, through to her becoming an Associate Test Engineer here at TAB.
Returning to work after children
As a returning to work mum, after five years, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the workplace anymore. Technology had moved on, working practices had changed and I had two dependents I had to consider when deciding on any job offer that might be made. Pre-children, I worked in social and digital marketing for a software company and built a good network up around me.
Having had a five-year career break to look after my boys, the time had come for me to get back into the workplace. Whilst I loved what I did before, I felt that I needed something more challenging in my life, something new. I wanted to go back to work to learn and be more involved in the creation of technology, rather than the promotion of it. In my previous roles, I had always worked closely with the developers and I felt that this would be a great fit for me, but I didn’t know how I could make this happen.
I felt like I’d hit a brick wall. I didn’t know what to do. I felt that with children, I would be unable to make this dream to go back to work happen. I was clear regarding the area of work I wanted to do, but no clarity on how to do any of it, especially without the relevant qualifications and experience. I couldn’t code, I didn’t have a computer science degree and other than the interactions with the developers in my previous role, I had little experience.
Thankfully, one evening, I sat down with my husband who is a software architect and I explained my predicament. "I love being a mum" I told him, “...but I need to be me too! I miss work and I miss people. I want to go back to work, but I have no idea where to start as I don’t want to do what I did before. I want something new and challenging. I want to help build a digital product, but I’m useless.”
I cried… I not only felt useless, but the situation also felt hopeless. I couldn’t understand who would want to employ me after being out of work for so long, having to train me up from scratch but not being able to be flexible due to having kids. I’ve come to discover that these are really normal feelings for mums who have been out of work.
My husband wouldn’t have any of my negativity. Knowing the software scene as well as he does, he immediately had the answer for me… Testing. He explained that testing was more about mindset than qualifications and he felt that I had the perfect skills for this. Admittedly, this wasn’t the first (2nd or 3rd) time he’d mentioned this to me, but this time I listened. He put me in touch with his colleague who in turn referred me to The Ministry of Testing.
I spent the next few weeks researching, attending workshops and speaking to various people to better understand what testing was and if it was for me. It didn’t take long for me to realise that this was, in fact, exactly the kind of thing I was after AND it incorporated a lot of the skills I had from my previous roles, surprisingly!
Ministry of Testing
In March, a month or so after I started my research into testing, I attended the Ministry of Testing TestBash conference in Brighton, TAB was one of the main sponsors for the event. I was fortunate enough to be awarded a scholarship for it and was determined to get myself out there. I networked like there was no tomorrow, speaking to everyone I could. I even plucked up the courage to do a 99-second tack at the end about hiring me. I wanted to make sure I had covered all bases to land myself my first testing role.
I took on all of the information I could, which was a lot, but it helped me to form a really good idea of the kind of tester I wanted to be and the kind of company I wanted to work for. Whilst that was great, I was also aware that these requirements meant I was really narrowing my options down. I facilitated a stand at the ‘Unexpo’ on Friday that promoted me. I broke down my requirements and presented this in a hand-drawn poster all about me.
It was here that I met the Lead Tester at TAB, Paul Coletti. At this point, I wasn’t that interested in working for a consultancy as I felt it might be distracting to work on different projects. Paul explained how things worked at TAB and spoke about the amazing culture, which was really important to me. I was so impressed with the sound of TAB. It was a place that really supported motivated and ambitious people like myself. Paul didn’t seem put off by the fact I hadn’t worked as a tester before, or the fact I had two children and lived out in Surrey. He saw I was keen to learn and so told me to apply as they were looking for testers at all levels and my lack of experience shouldn’t put me off.
Applying to TAB
I went home with a million things buzzing around my head. TAB was definitely in my top three companies to apply for and so I applied. The process from start to finish was great. I enjoyed chatting about testing on my phone interview with Aaron and Alice, who are both senior testers at TAB. I then attended a face to face with Paul where we were able to delve more into the world of testing and how it works at TAB. I left with a spring in my step and by the time I reached the station, I received a call from the talent team offering me the job.
Paul and I
Since day one, TAB has been brilliant, not only am I being given my big break into testing, I am surrounded by so many intelligent people that I can learn from. Be that, Designers, Programmers or Product Owners. I have learned so much from all of the various communities of practice here and everyone is approachable. Most importantly, being a mum hasn’t held me back in any way. TAB has been completely supportive and understand that I need flexibility.
Furthermore, if you’re big into your working community, there are so many other things to get involved with at TAB such as the social committee and charity committee. TAB is like a family and everyone looks out for each other. I definitely feel like I hit the jackpot!