12 months of learning – where am I now?

>Its been around 12 months since I started on my learning journey & as I’m starting to look for my goals for the next 12 months I thought it would be wise to take stock & see what I have & haven’t achieved.

Its going to be a ramble I’m afraid…

So lets start by dissecting the original goals:

1. Become an Advanced Level Test Analyst

2. Become a Sun Certified Java Programmer

3. Set up a Liverpool Agile Community


1. Well – thats not going to happen. I’ll cover in more detail later, but I don’t feel certification suits me or how I want to sell myself.

2. Thats not going to happen either  -along the same lines of #1, I don’t need to be certified programmer in order to be a better tester. There are negative connotations to my progress with the Java language, which again, I’ll cover later.
3. I’ve not exactly set up an agile community, but I am in the process of bringing the North West testing community out into the open. We have a Liverpool Testing Meetup next week & another in Manchester next month which coincides with the EuroSTAR testing conference. To be honest, a testing community is more appealing to me than an agile one – & we can focus specifically on agile testing if/when we want to.

On the surface, it looks like I have achieved none of my goals in the past year, which frankly isn’t great. But I feel I have achieved a lot. Like any good exploratory tester, I’ve had my charter (my 3 goals) as my focus, but I’ve allowed my interests & current situation/context to guide me so that I now have many, more relevant goals.

Lets go over some high points & low points.


  1. Realising certified <> qualified – luckily before I forked out lots of cash
  2. Attended Bach /Bolton Rapid Software Testing course – a real eye-opener
  3. Getting a better understanding of Exploratory Testing & how to describe the process I’ve been practicing my entire career
  4. Arranged a Liverpool testing meetup to draw the testing community out into the light
  5. Increasing my online presence by commenting on forums & blog posts
  6. (Learning to read threads fully before duplicating others comments!)
  7. Creating my own website to further my online presence & peddle my wares!
  8. Getting a clearer understanding of the underlying principles of an agile development process (blog post to come on that)
  9. Introduced ‘brown bag’ sessions to the team to spread technical knowledge. Sessions have included Java 101 & creating GUI based automated checks using webdriver & XPath
  10. Realising although I’ve been testing for 11+ years, its been passive testing – meaning I’ve largely gone with the flow, securing one contract to the next. I’ve been lucky thus far & as such it has been previous contracts which have secured the next as opposed to skill as a tester. This has been a bitter pill to swallow, but now its done, hopefully I can actually progress on the journey to become a better tester
  11. Looking to learn too many topics has slowed my progress, but now has set clear long term goals of what software development topics interest me. I’ve also gathered loads of materials to use in achieving the new goals!
Not progressing as far I’d like with the Java language – After realising that the SCJP wasn’t for me, I decided to keep working through the Head First Java book & tester/programmer pairing. Unfortunately, project work has been too busy to allow either extra-curricular Java development or tester/programmer pairing to take place. Things are calming down again, so I’m going to continue with Java at least until January.
Realising that I have been passively testing for most of my career & that I have utilised that time efficiently.
Spending too much time exploring other ideas detracted from the primary goals – along the journey, I have looked into Exploratory Testing, Java, Ruby, BDD & its ‘tools’, security testing, performance testing, load testing, creating my own website, setting up a testing geek night & testing for startups & SMEs. Its been too much. The positive take away though is that I now have scope for my learning!
Next 12 month goals:
  • Finish Head-First-Java book before January
  • Complete BBST course
  • Run frequent tester meetups in Liverpool
  • Push for more tester/programmer pairing on fixing defects & writing the regression checks
  • Start learning Ruby language in January
  • Get the basics in security testing nailed – would like to be able to advise clients of security risks with their product. Got lots of material to wade through!
  • Continue blogging (inc. move blog from Blogger into my WordPress site?)
  • Start testing for startups & SMEs – no actual goal as yet.
I know that they’re not currently SMART goals, but I’ll refine them as I get round to them!