The INTERNSHIP – An unexpected journey

What would you expect from an internship?

Think about this question for one minute then continue reading and find out what our experience was. With this article we want to share with you the journey we went through to become interns and what happened after that.

Steps to reproduce:

We both applied for this internship at a local career event, JobShop, where Altom had a stand. It was there where we both met some members of the Altom team for the first time. We were pleasantly surprised by their enthusiasm and their openness to students. We were encouraged to apply, so without any second thoughts we gave them our CVs.

After a while, the phone rang. At the other end of the line, a joyful voice invited us to an interview. A couple of tests later we received the awesome news that we were accepted. So on the first of July (2014) we came to Altom for our first day of the internship.

Expected results:

At first we didn’t really know what to expect, especially since none of us had any previous knowledge about testing or testing companies. Based on the time we spent at the Altom office when we were interviewed, we knew that we would meet some nice people, full of life and always with a smile on their face.

Based on other experiences and what we had heard from friends who had been at other internships, we imagined that we would get a laptop and a desk, a product to test and three months to do so. We imagined our colleagues to be too busy to pay us too much attention and answer our questions.

Actual results:

Some of the things we mentioned above did happen (we got the desk and the laptop) but everything else was way better than we anticipated. From day 1 we felt like we were accepted in their team and seen as one of them; we were involved in every Altom activity, be it a business or a leisure one.

We did get a project to work on, but no specifications. We were given freedom to explore and solve the task at hand in whatever way we wished. We are talking about a puzzle box, with 8 lights and 7 buttons. Our job? Find out how the box works. Also we were told that the box has a bug. This was the first time we had to test something. And we liked it!

At first it seemed strange that our questions about the box would get no answer, but after a while we understood that in fact that was the whole point of it. We were encouraged to have questions, but also to find the answers for them by ourselves. This was a very good first lesson that we have learned.

Learning how to test was not just “Here is a product. Test it!”. It was more than that. We followed Cem Kaner’s BBST courses, we resolved more blackbox puzzles, we watched webinars and did research on various themes. We had different projects with different tasks. After every testing session we had debriefings about how we tested, what we found, and we were challenged to come with more testing ideas.

Also we “practised” more approaches to testing: we did exploratory testing, bug-hunting, usability testing, we started to learn about automated tests, and so on.  We tested individually but also in teams. From both, we learned a lot. We learned to organize our testing process in areas and charters and to take notes with iTester and RapidReporter. We learned how to use new programmes like IntelliJ, Sikuli, Maven, Selenium WebDriver or IDE. More than that, we had the chance to do an usability form to test Altom’s new site. Besides testing, we learned how to organise our tasks. We used the project management tool Jira, we planned our sprints, we took turns being the scrum master, and always ended our sprints with the retrospectives where we discussed and tried to solve what didn’t went so well during the sprint.

So, we learned that testing is so much more than we thought. It is a vast, very interesting area to explore every day without getting bored.

Another thing we liked in our internship was that the Altoms are very patient and helpful people. Our learning process always happened in a joyful atmosphere. It was a creative process full with ideas. Ideas from each of them, and sometimes our ideas, that were always accepted and welcomed. So we haven’t learned just about testing. We also learned how to learn, how to explore and how to grow.

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2 responses to “The INTERNSHIP – An unexpected journey”

  1. Adina Moldovan says:

    I’m glad that the Black Boxes did their magic and the learning points were strong enough to be mentioned in a blog post. “At first it seemed strange that our questions about the box would get no answer, but after a while we understood that in fact that was the whole point of it. We were encouraged to have questions, but also to find the answers for them by ourselves. This was a very good first lesson that we have learned.” Finding a balance in the questions asked and the investigations to find out the answers by myself has always been a challenge for me.

    I love the ending “We also learned how to learn, how to explore and how to grow.” I wish I was an intern too 🙂

  2. A great post. This post showed me my backlogs to work on!

    Cheers,
    Srinivas