From a Server in a Restaurant to a Manual QA Tester in Six Months. Success Story of Igor
Igor’s journey to tech was neither too short nor too long. After completing the Manual QA training, he attended the graduate meetings and promised to share his story, too, but only after a little time in tech. In this interview, he shares his insights of working in tech as a full-time Manual QA for two-and-a-half months, highlighting the perks of onboarding and the actual work involved.
Thanks for your willingness to share your personal story. Where are you from?
Thanks for having me today. I’m from Dallas, Texas.
Do you remember any dates or the time frame of your journey to the tech?
I started the training on December 14, 2021, and then my internship began on January 17, 2022. On February 8, I had the first call with my mentor. However, the actual job search started on April 7.
The reason I had a gap of almost two months was personal. I had family issues, so I couldn’t get on track with the next steps. Plus, my mentor was in Ukraine then; she had to change some things on her part because of the start of the war. Honestly, I never regretted that delay because I worked hard and studied all that time, which helped me get the job I could only dream of up to that point.
How fast did you start getting calls from recruiters?
So, having started on April 7, I started getting calls probably within a week.
That’s fast. How was your first interview?
The first interview was terrible. I was too emotional and lacked confidence. I just kept going back to what you were saying, though: you just have to get through that process, and going through interviews, you’re going to learn through that.
We’re happy to hear you pushed through that. How were your interviews?
My first one was 30 minutes long. Then I had another one directly with the company for 30 minutes. But they reached out to me the following day and told me they would be moving forward with another candidate.
Do you remember the winning set of interviews?
Well, on April 27, I got a call from the company’s HR department — the one that ultimately hired me. During the initial 30-minute interview, they asked me to tell them about myself. They asked some technical questions like what tools I have worked with or was familiar with. They told me I was selected for the next round a few minutes later. The next round was an hour-long conversation with the QA manager, who asked technical questions. I heard no new questions; I was able to answer all the questions.
Did you manage to get a remote or a hybrid job?
Everything’s remote. The company is based in Austin, a three-hour drive from Dallas, but everything is remote. It’s a big company with over a thousand employees. It’s been around since 2005.
What about frequent interview questions? Were there some?
They asked me to create test cases, talk about myself, and explain how I decided to get into QA — those were the most usual questions. Then, they would talk about the team or a typical workday. They usually ask you to tell them about a current project you’re working on. They don’t care about resumes and stuff because anybody can make a resume, but things get clearer when you talk about that. So be confident in what you say.
I remember my interviewer put his desktop on the screen with a login widget and asked me to create test cases on that. That was when I remembered the Careerist trainer’s words that this is the only time you have to talk and talk. Later, I found out they hired me because they liked all the test cases I made.
I was also asked to create test cases for a marker. I was lucky because I had reviewed the example test cases — a pencil, a vending machine, and a toaster — a few days before. After creating test cases for a marker, he told me to create a bug report for a box full of markers with leaking ink, like all the steps for what to do in that case.
So was it a final round?
Ah, no. Right after this interview, I got an email saying I had been moved to the next round — the third round. That time there were two QAs (my future colleagues), one developer, and one guy from the marketing department who just wanted to ask me some behavioral questions.
One of my friends reminded me of the importance of having questions for my interviewees because if you don’t say anything, they will keep asking you more questions. So, I made sure I had a lot of questions for them to make it more of a conversation. Indeed, you have to be confident and comfortable to ask a question when they ask you something simple, like how to create a bug report. And they are always eager to tell you something because people like to talk about themselves and stuff.
Throughout this third round, I created test cases for the hotels.com widget and then test cases for a phone number line in the app, which was fine and boosted my confidence. I felt I had a chance to get the job.
Did you write test cases?
No, I did everything verbally.
What happened next?
After this round, which was two hours long — 45 minutes with each person — I got feedback in two days. There was an email inviting me for the fourth round.
No way! That’s a rarity, but again, it happens.
That turned out to be the last one. There was the company’s CEO, the PM, and the manager of the developers. I was so scared that I was like, I don’t want to get on the call for this interview.
But I did my homework and researched what they do. I think there were four candidates for this position, and I was the only one who knew the company. Of course, they asked me some technical questions, including SQL.
I took a training on SQL and API, but they didn’t ask me about API at all. The only question they asked me on that was how to make an API call. They also asked me what I knew about SQL, how I deleted data from a table database, and how I got data from two tables. So some simple questions on SQL weren’t too deep, just the basics.
What kind of questions did you bring with you?
I would ask about the tools they use and the size of their team. I tried to make it a relaxed conversation, but again, I asked carefully so as not to provoke too many questions. I’m a guy who likes to talk by nature.
They just wanted to see that you know the basics. Do you have to use any SQL now?
Yes, we use SQL a lot, but everything is already done for me. All the lines and all the strings are there, so I just use them.
Most of you won’t need API or SQL at work. It’s usually following the instructions and nothing more complicated than that. So what did you get?
So yeah, three days later, HR called me and told me they would like to send me an offer of $70,000 for a full-time job, with benefits for my family and me and a 10 percent annual guaranteed bonus based on the company’s performance.
If I may ask, what was your profession before tech?
I was a server in a Greek restaurant. I started as a cook, and then I became a server. Overall, I worked in the restaurant for six years, which was always a talking point.
Compared to your previous career, do you like QA more?
Of course! Although my ex-boss was one of my references, and that helped too.
How long was your job search from the moment you started actively searching?
Twenty days. It was precisely six months from when I started the class until I started my new job.
On average, it’s between two and four months, but you can always become an exception and get it sooner. How do you like your team?
They’re amazing. Simply fantastic people — the developers, the PM, and my manager. They’re people who are into that company and care about the people they hire. Again, they are very nice people to deal with.
After I got the job, my manager asked me whether I used Chrome DevTools. And then they told me to forget everything I knew since they were going to show me a different way.
That’s a frequent story. The problem is getting a job. The team will show you how things need to be done. How many jobs did you apply to per day?
I used to apply for 20–25 open jobs daily. In addition, I used JAS (Job Application Service), which added 10–15 applications to that number, making it 30+, as Careerist recommends.
What was your secret to preparing for the interviews? Did you listen to the class recordings?
Oh, man, I listened to the video recordings many times. At least once a day. I take kids to school, and it’s a long drive, so I would listen to it on my way. Then I reread the document and made notes.
How long have you been working with this company so far?
June 14 was my first day, so two-and-a-half months .
So how is it to be a software QA Engineer?
It’s much more straightforward than I thought. Instead of Slack, we use MS Teams, which I’ve never used before. They instructed me on all the basic workflows.
The company shipped all the equipment directly to my house, including a Dell laptop and two monitors, right before I got access to their system. The laptop is the only device I use for testing.
What are you working on?
We are generating leads for insurance agents. We’re testing the agent’s UI. It’s a call center app, and the process is very simple, work-wise.
What is your workflow like?
I get a ticket assigned to me in Jira at the beginning of the sprint. Usually, it’s four or five tickets for the sprint. Next, I check the status; when it says “resolved,” the developer has finished their work, so it’s ready for QA. Sometimes they’re not ready for two days, and you have to research, look through documentation, and just wait.
You mentioned you worked on Microsoft Teams. Does this mean you solely work on the Windows platform?
Well, we just use MS Teams as a communication channel. It’s not too much of a Microsoft environment.
Are you busy the entire day? Do you have a ton of work?
No. It depends on the release and new features. It changes from day to day.
How long does it take to finish your tasks?
It depends on the ticket. Some tickets take two hours; I had another ticket that took me two days. I mean not two full days, but it always depends on the complexity. They must verify all scenarios to test for the new feature. But when it’s a bug fix, it’s easy.
The processes at my current job are not complicated because once this ticket is ready for the QA, the first thing I do is call the developer who fixed it. I usually ask for permission to record the conversation, and they never mind that. The developers let me record the meeting and he tells me exactly what I need to do, saying things like, “This is what I fixed, that’s why we did it, and that’s how it used to be.” They always show what you should look for. In short, I get the new environment and get his fixes. Get the fresh environment, and then I start testing the fix. I create the scenarios, and then I close them.
Did they ask you about your willingness to learn automation?
Yes, they did. Right now, however, there are only four of us: three Manual QA testers and my manager. There is no automation person yet.
Before learning automation, double-check what language they use in the company. It might be Python or Java.
It’s true. Thanks for the advice.
Any final words to your peers?
The key to success is to study, revise, and prepare. The Careerist team is always giving useful advice; there are always mentors to help. I wish everybody the very best of luck. Remember that sometimes it might take longer, but there is a place for everyone.
Thanks for sharing your story and motivating others. We hope to hear back from you soon with updates on your career.