Explaining Your QA Job to Others

The Christmas season is over and the new year has begun. I spent most of my holiday time at different family member’s homes celebrating Jesus Christ and His birth, while also enjoying delicious food and exchanging gifts. What a great time of the year.

But this also made me think about how I explain my job to other people. Fortunately this year I didn’t have to do too much, as most people know what I do now, but in years past, I have had to answer the questions to the inquiring individual, slightly adjusting the words with each explanation.

Explaining

The Interested Aunt

One of my favorites to explain what I do, is to a close family member who actually cares to learn something new about my life. They ask an initial question of where I work and what I do, and follow up with additional questions about my day to day and what I enjoy most.

My usual response to this type of person, prior to me recognizing their interest, is a basic response like “I’m a QA analyst at a software development company”. Sometimes I’ll increase the initial response to this person with, “I get to test the software that we make for our users”. These responses in combination with this character, lead to an enjoyable and engaging conversation of interest about my job.

The Obligatory In-Law

Such is Christmas that is brings together the extended family that you see but a few times a year. This brings on the obligatory ask, “what is it that you do?”

To this I respond the basic answer above, that I am a software tester at a company called Zywave. You’ll instantly recognize the character’s intent when they say something like “oh cool, that’s fun” or my favorite, when they respond with “Zywave, where’s that?” as if knowing the location of my company will clear up any confusion you may have about my daily duties or roles. I usually don’t follow up with any additional information, and attempt to seek out the next conversation at the Christmas party.

The Loving Wife

My wife is great, she genuinely cares about my happiness and desires me to be in a job that I love and come home from with a smile on my face, and can’t wait to talk about. She endures the painful detailed description of my days and weeks, and appears to truly take interest in what I do. She can also easily name 20 or more of my coworkers and could probably tell facts about each or a small story I have had to share with her.

To her, I have taken opportunity to explain all aspects of my job, and though I attempt not to share too much in each sitting, I can probably say that I’ve shared everything I do, and my wife could say she knows nearly exactly what I do for my job.

The Truly Curious Mom

Many people share a similar relationship with their mom or dad that I do, which is a really close one. My mom is really interested in my job and what I do, because she cares a lot about me and wants to know what I do. However, my parents may not necessarily grasp the entirety of my job, because most people can’t unless you work in the industry, so I share with them about my job and the testing of software that I do, sharing more about the industry of software that we design for, and how our products better our user’s day to day process. This character is a good one because they regularly take interest in the job throughout the year, so as the industry shifts and my job changes, I can update them on the newest trends and duties.

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The Inquiring Friend

I have a very close-knit group of friends and we all know so much about each other, that we could probably pass some lie detectors for each other. But even though we share so much about our jobs and discuss day to day activities, I still take the time to discuss more about the perks of Zywave vs the actual rigor moral of my day. Not so much because it’s a competition, but that is something that every one of us have, company perks, and not everyone fully comprehends each other’s industry.

To this character we discuss things like PTO and benefits packages, office location and layout, as well as the onsite amenities like a ping-pong table and pool table, with a couple arcade games and Foosball, and we don’t forget to talk about the free soda. Again, the attempt is never to one up each other, but rather just to share the pleasures of our jobs, and ultimately congratulate each other for getting such great gigs (since most of us are doing what we love).

The Other Software Guy

Another favorite character of mine, because this is the one that shares a similar interest and ultimately understands the joys and stresses of being in the software industry. However, because of what they do and the fact that it is similar to what I do, sometimes the familiarity causes this type of conversation to be sharing of comparisons rather than an actual interesting conversation. Talking to another software guy does provide the opportunity to share horror stories, and sometimes that is very nice to hear that others also experience similar problems that I do.

Each character has their advantage and disadvantage, neither is necessarily the best or worst, but each provide different conversation which adds to the daily joys of my life.

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