Work Anniversary: What I’ve Learned in 10 Years at Atomic

Last month I celebrated my 10th work anniversary at Atomic. That’s 10 years since I arrived in Grand Rapids in a U-Haul truck wondering if I’d made the right move. How did I end up here and what have I learned?

How I Got Here

I was looking for a change in my job and my location. The project I was working on had quality issues, and finding bugs was too easy. Add to this a daily commute of four hours and an expensive cost-of-living area and it was time for a change.

I was well-connected with the test community through blogs, Twitter, forums, and conferences. So, when people heard I was looking for a move, they sent some opportunities my way.

One of the testers I knew lived in West Michigan, and he sent me a vacancy for a local company looking for an exploratory tester. The job description seemed to match what I was looking for. And, the company website (with blogs from people that worked there) made it seem to be a good place to work.

My wife is American. This meant getting a visa to move over was a possibility, and Michigan seemed to be a lower COL area. After doing some testing on a live project and then an interview, Atomic offered me the job and I accepted. That means I can literally say that, with the help of the online test community, I am where I am now. :)

If you’re a company looking to hire, then make your job description interesting. Also, make sure your company’s website shows what the people there do and what working for your company might be like.

If you want someone to hire you, make connections and network.

What  I Learned

I wanted to become better as a tester. So, working at a company with a testing culture and where all the developers test has made finding issues a challenge for me. And that is what I was looking for.

Quality code meant I was able to work on multiple projects at the same time and learn to use my time efficiently. Not getting caught in firefighting mode all the time made this easier. Working on multiple projects also meant I was able to use tests and bugs from one project to find potential issues in others.

I learned how to test mobile apps with a whole new world of possible interactions. Those ranged from screen rotation issues to backgrounding and foregrounding, permissions, and airplane mode. My go-to favorite way of finding bugs changed from using IE6 to using the back button on Android.

I learned that the “devs can’t test” cliche is a bust, and they are capable of testing their own work. I find they are eager to learn about what I do and how I found a bug they missed so they don’t make the same mistake again.

Atomic has a regular company-wide long weekend where we all go away for a conference to listen and learn from each other. After doing my first talk there, I learned I was good at public speaking — and colleagues encouraged me to do more.

I learned that where I like being most is a place where I can still learn and where I’m surrounded by people who are also keen to teach and learn.

And I learned that 10 years can fly by when you’re happy at work.