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A week in the life of a Graduate Test Engineer

Updated: May 12

Starting my graduate job in the midst of a pandemic was definitely not how I imagined my first job in the tech industry to pan out. But after nine months as a test engineer, it’s easily become one of the best decisions I’ve ever made! From already being exposed to three different projects as well as numerous internal business projects, the experiences, opportunities and knowledge I’ve gained is definitely unparalleled.


To give you a bit of an insight into the role, I’ve put together a week in my life at work, hopefully to inspire others to join the industry and possibly even Solirius!

Monday

The Department for Education's logo

The start to the week is also the last day of the sprint! I’m currently on a project with the Department for Education which I only started on two weeks ago. As per Agile, this means we’ll be having a show & tell and a retrospective, both of which I look forward to. It’s nice to be able to show external stakeholders what we’ve achieved in the sprint and the retro is a great way to reflect, discuss what works, what doesn’t and ultimately, be better! I’ve also had some time to do a fair bit of testing today. I started off with some manual tickets since I’m still familiarising myself with the system but also picked up an automation ticket in the afternoon. For this, I used Cypress which is an automated UI testing tool which allows us to develop and execute scripts rather than running these manually. I had never used this before and so I faced a few challenges which I overcame by speaking to the senior QA and doing some research on Google. By the end, I learnt all about intercepting XHR requests and using the data as part of my tests and ended the day on a high; with me writing my first ever set of Cypress tests!!


Beyond project work, I also did a bit of internal work today. First of all I became a buddy! All grads joining Solirius are assigned a buddy to help them settle in, this is the first time I’ve had the opportunity to do this for a new joiner and the first day has been great! I’m also part of the Diversity & Inclusivity team and in the afternoon, we had a meeting to discuss the results of a survey we used to get some ideas on how we can improve diversity and inclusivity within Solirius. We had some great responses which fuelled some significant discussions and we set up a Trello board to organise the actions we’ll be taking.


Tuesday

The morning began with me creating a pull request (PR) for my Cypress tests. This is a request which is sent to the technical team to review and merge code into the main code base. It’s always nice to get another set of eyes on your code, a lot of the time small mistakes which are not visible to you from working so closely on the code can be picked up. I then, as per any other day, joined stand-up where I got an update on how everyone else is doing as well as giving my update. I find stand-ups get me in the groove of the working day as they give me a clear indication of where we’re at and what still needs to be done.


Today is also the first day of the new sprint which means that straight after stand-up, we had a sprint planning session where we decided what stories would go into the new sprint and made sure everyone understood them. After this, I had a stand-up for an internal task; communications and marketing, unlike project stand-ups, this happens once a week and is again a great opportunity to see what everyone has achieved in the last week and what the plans for the following week will be.


Once I’d finished my morning meetings, I received review comments on the PR I had created with some great suggestions of improvements which I reviewed and started to implement to ensure the code met the required standards. Most of my day was spent on learning and improving the set of Cypress tests. In the midst of this, I also had two other meetings, one to set up my local environment for my project with the help of one of the software engineers on the team and a stand-up for another internal task I’m a part of; Sales and Bids training. I again, ended my day on a high by re-raising my PR which was approved and merged, always an accomplishing feeling!!

Wednesday

Halfway through the week! Today, I started my day off by looking at the sprint board and picking up any manual testing which was ready for QA. I always like to get manual testing out of the way in the morning so that I can have the day to code! Once I completed the manual tickets, I picked up an automation ticket and started to work on more Cypress tests. We also had a project meeting to discuss our ways of working, raise any concerns and highlight anything we felt was working well, specifically for how we work as a team as we’re a new team.


Away from project work, I also attended a webinar this morning called “Breaking down barriers: How to inclusively hire, attract and onboard disabled talent”. It was a great experience and I managed to pick up loads of tips and tricks which we can look into utilising through the diversity and inclusivity team. This will help us ensure we’re giving all our potential employees the best possible experience when they go through the application process at Solirius. Today was also the monthly Solirius culture group which is an opportunity for the entire company to come together and discuss ideas on how to better ourselves as a company. Within this, we also have a monthly quiz which is great fun even though I always come last!

Thursday

More Cypress testing! Today, I picked up some more automation testing tickets and carried on working through and learning loads about Cypress. I also had a meeting with the team to talk about the QA process, as this project is fairly new, we’re still refining and perfecting our processes and ways of working. Overall, it was quite a positive meeting with some great action points which should help improve and automate our workflow. Beyond this, we also had a story refinement meeting today. These meetings happen once a week and are an opportunity to see and discuss the stories which are due to be bought into the next sprint. It always brings good clarity on the work we’ll be starting soon. Away from project work, I also worked on a ticket for sales and bids training just before our stand-up!

Friday

The end of the week is always an opportunity to wrap up our activities for the week! I spent most of the day having a deep dive into the backend of our project. It started with a meeting with the senior QA who took me through some framework he’s put in place to test the backend as well as explaining our different endpoints and what they do. After this meeting, I did some further exploratory testing and had a play around (on my local environment) to familiarise myself with how everything is pieced together.


I then ended my day by having a catch-up with my buddy to see how he was settling in as well as just having a chat! I then also had a catch-up with my line manager, we usually have these once a month and it’s always great. We get to spend some time discussing how I’ve been getting on, what I’ve been learning, any concerns I have and making sure I’m enjoying what I’m doing; which I always am!


The week has flown by and in my role as a test engineer at the Department for Education and as a consultant at Solirius I have accomplished many tasks and learnt numerous new skills. Some of my key highlights of the week include:

  • Installing and setting up Cypress

  • Writing my first set of Cypress tests in TypeScript

  • Raising and merging my first PR on the project

  • Identifying and working on the improvements we can make in our ways of working

  • Looking into the backend

  • Attending the webinar and bringing some key action points to the Diversity and Inclusivity team

  • Working on some sales and bids training tickets

  • Having an introduction with my new buddy and helping him settle into Solirius

  • Catching up with my line manager

No two weeks in the role are ever the same, therefore, I’m sure the next week will be very different but just as exciting with many more lessons and technologies to learn!

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