How to be a tester (for teenagers only)

I just spoke to your class.  I showed you the Psychic App, the Mysterious Spheres, the Notepad bug — it’s the same stuff I show professional testers.

Your next assignment is to tell me a problem you’ve seen in something you’ve used.

You’re using Twitter, Tweetdeck, Facebook, MySpace, SecondLife, maybe even LinkedIn. 

You’re creating web pages, uploading pictures, downloading games, deleting spam, running virus checkers and firewall software.

You’ve got a Blackberry, a Razor, an iPhone, a Droid, maybe even a Zune.

From the App Store, you’ve installed Wa Kingyo, PixyMe, Shazam, Pandora, and a hundred other gizmos.

You own a DS, an XBOX, a Wii, a PSP, a PS3.

You’re playing Bioshock, Inferno, MassEffect, Zelda, Mario, CoD, GTA4, WOW, Farmville, MafiaWars, Tatsunoko vs. Capcom

You upload and download homework to the wiki, do your papers with OpenOffice.

You’re on Skype, Windows Live Messenger, Facebook chat, AOL IM, and texting on your cell.

You’re on Wave, Buzz, and Docs and you uploaded to, YouTube, Flickr, PhotoBucket, and Viddler.

And of course, you’ve got your blog or your vlog or your podcast, skypecast, or webcast.

You’re surrounded and outnumbered by custom-made streams of electrons, pedabytes of ones and zeroes flying around you per second.  And while you swim in all of this technology, I bet you’re not thinking what you want to be when you grow up. 

While you wait for the video you edited to go viral and wait in line to become an internet millionaire, I suggest you pass the time by starting to notice problems.  There are companies that will pay you to test their technology and report problems. Yes, there are a lot of people out of work, so that’s why it may be good for you to start now.  Start building your experience ON YOUR OWN.  Employers might not care what school you went to, but they WILL care what stories you have to tell about problems you found.

So, all you have to do… (for now)

… is start noticing things. 

Start remembering errors and annoyances and things that go badly in all of the technology you’re using.

Discover something that doesn’t meet your expectations and practice describing it in writing — what you did, what you saw, what you had installed on your configuration.

I can help.  If you’ve found something, report to me in email or find me in Skype.  I’ll coach you how to report it, or to find other things — on purpose.

Testers are detectives.  We hunt for where software is broken and then tell a quick story about it called a bug report.

Don’t let the teachers fool you.  You’re smart and you already know a lot (look at the list above).

You have eyes and you have a brain.  That’s all you need for now to start practicing.

Get started.  Report one software problem you’ve seen in the last year.

Think about it, or if you forgot, find another one.  Professional testers like me never get tired of hearing stories, and we can help you know where to look.  We may not find what you find because we have a different configuration than you do, but that’s the fun.  Bugs are treasures waiting to be found, and companies want them found either before or after shipping (usually before).

Get on Twitter and query the #testing hashtag.  Read what people are saying.  Try out some shareware or a 1.0 app, get a machine you don’t care about and fill it with software, then start hunting.

Or, you can just wait until your video goes viral on YouTube and Tosh.0 and *others* will let you know the problems with it.


3 Responses to “How to be a tester (for teenagers only)”

  1. Vinayak Suman Says:


    Thanks for such a wonderful insight into software testing. I have begun to look for problems in the applications, gadgets etc etc….would like to look up to you as my mentor in software testing, I am in my undergrad mechanical engineering, I am on a 6 month break to explore the practical world of business before I get back to the university in July 2010.



  2. Oliver Says:

    Got a thermos flask, a T-Shirt and a Wine dispenser from the nice folks at CodeWeavers (CrossoverOffice guys) for being one of their top bug-raisers (I don’t know if they know I’m a bad-ass tester ;-). While reading through one of their release notes I got the impression they nearly did a release just for me 😀

    Not only does it train detecting defects but also raising them in a way that they get resolved (without being able to “go” over to the developer and explain what you meant). As a byproduct you get a better product and even some goodies if they really like your feedback 😉

    Also discovered a security hole in an online banking website. Raised it and it got fixed within 48 hours. But never got feedback. I guess they didn’t want that known or acknowledged.

    Anyway I see it as my duty to raise stuff where I see it. I am a tester and it contributes to my skills and it gives something back to a community of people that have unknowingly/indirectly helped me a great deal. This is especially true for Open Source tools I use.

    Cheers Oliver

  3. Samantha Says:

    Someone is definitely keeping his thumb on the pulse of the community. I like that 😉

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