My Experience Starting a Career in IT at Apexon in Sunderland, UK

My Experience Starting a Career in IT at Apexon in Sunderland, UK

Starting a career in technology right after college can be quite daunting, as academic studies and preparations can never fully prepare you for the challenges you will face in the ever-evolving world of IT. Graduate roles offered by Apexon can really help kick-start your career. This is my story of how becoming a graduate test engineer at Apexon has helped me navigate the world of IT with confidence.

Beginning My Journey

The initial stages of the induction consisted of a cohort of around 10 graduates, with me being the only graduate test engineer. Intimidating, right? But rather than being the “odd one out,” the cohort of graduates, the mentors of the scheme, and my colleagues were quick to welcome me into their world.

Once we were set up with our equipment, we began our development through the implementation of the Technical Excellence Program. The initiative is tailored to engage developers in small-scale projects that test their capabilities to implement solutions to specific problems. I leveraged my existing knowledge during the exercises, but the program mentors were there to provide additional teaching to fill any gaps. The aim of this is to instill at an early stage the technically excellent standards that we all strive for through Test-Driven-Development (TDD) and encourage communication and collaboration between a group of people. This laid solid groundwork for me as someone with very little experience with teamwork.

Now, you may be wondering, “With the program being tailored towards developers, how does this benefit a graduate tester?”

I asked myself the same question when the program began, as my programming skills were lackluster at best. However, as a tester, I swiftly learned that it wasn’t just about programming and developing solutions but developing the ability to interpret and understand developers’ scripts. This is a key aspect of our role, as not only do we need to assess the final product’s functionality for our end-users but also understand the elements that achieve this within the code base.

This means that in the event of a bug being highlighted, both the developer and tester can communicate and collaborate effectively with one another to locate the problem. With the Technical Excellence Program, I gained confidence to engage with and assist developers. And this was only the beginning.

Putting My Knowledge Into Practice

In the next stage, the cohort of graduates was tasked with an internal project to develop a piece of software that would be of benefit to our fellow colleagues at Apexon. This was the aspect that gave me my first taste of actual test engineering and the array of tools that we would come to use daily.

We were introduced to a wide array of concepts, methodologies, and tools, starting with things like:

  • Agile
  • Scrum
  • GitHub/GitLab for version control
  • Requirements Gathering
  • Continuous Integration/Continuous Development (CI/CD)

Stories based on the requirements of our client that had to be refined, broken down into manageable portions for developers, as well as Acceptance Criteria (AC) for me, the tester.

As the only tester on the project, this allowed a large amount of growth to occur in a short amount of time, with all the testing requirements needing to be achieved. I began with exploratory testing and discovered how refined tickets and AC are of a huge benefit to the tester in any team. Without them, exploratory testing could become a never-ending road.

Alongside this, I constructed test cases to refine my testing patterns to ensure my focus remained on a per-ticket basis and took into consideration user flows and how the tool we were developing would be interacted with by a user allowed the refactoring. I was also working on many test cases, as I was required to not only assess functionality, but the end-to-end flow of the entire tool.

Demonstrating My Skills

After a few months of blood, sweat, and maybe a few tears, we were ready to present our project to the leadership team and fellow colleagues. There was a sense of achievement across the entire team. Months of preparation and work had gone into this project, and we were now at the end of the road, presenting it to the wider Apexon team, and getting ready to move on to our first real client projects!

As I had completed the Technical Excellence Program and the mini project, this did not mean I was now an expert tester. In fact, it was time for even more learning, which is the fascinating aspect of being a tester in the current IT industry—you will never stop learning and gaining new skills and knowledge. One of the main focuses now is to implement automated test scripts using the well-known tool, Cypress.

A substantial portion of my time was then invested in understanding my new project, getting to know the team, manually testing aspects that could not be automated, understanding which aspects could be automated in the future, as well as gaining a new skill in API Testing. While all this learning and technical terminology seemed unnerving at first, the encouragement from colleagues and their overall willingness to assist and encourage my growth helped me reach greater heights.

Reflecting On My IT Journey

As I look back on my experience as a graduate tester, I am incredibly proud of what I’ve achieved. Being a test engineer is more than just being able to understand code and ensure its functioning in a manner that is expected and accepted by various standards, it is a mindset. The approach and implementation of testing strategies are all aspects that can be learned and developed, but having the appropriate mindset opens the door to truly developing yourself as a test engineer.

I encourage any other graduate to pursue Apexon’s Technical Excellence Program if they are interested in maturing their IT skills and gaining confidence in the workplace.

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