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Ania Gajecka
Ania Gajecka

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The paralysing fear of failure, part I

I've been a manual tester for over 6 years now. I've been thinking to learn how to program since 2018. To take the next step in my testing career.

Disclaimer: I don't believe that every tester must know how to code to advance in their career. Testing itself covers so many areas that I don't think knowing how to program is the only way. It is just the chosen way for me.

As a graduate of language & literature studies, not knowing where to start learning, I first decided to ask for an advice on a Facebook group - Programuj, dziewczyno (Polish is my super power). Back in 2018, I only had an experience in testing desktop applications that was written in the C#/ .NET framework. I even started reading C# for Dummies book, but I gave up on it rather quickly.
However, almost every job advertisement for a software tester position stated "knowledge of Selenium framework".
I was in between jobs, studying for the ISTQB Foundation Level certificate, which for many companies in Belgium is a must-have; especially for a foreigner, that is not fluent in any of the three official languages.

The girls from the group said to try Python, because it's a beginner-friendly language.

But where to start? I was being overwhelmed by the information you can find on the Internet. I was watching many videos and reading many articles titled "How to learn how to code" etc.
I was used to a structure of a school or university course, where you start from some piece of information, and you build your knowledge on top of it, as you go. In the end, I felt swamped by the information overload.

In the meantime, I passed the ISTQB FL exam in Paris (that's a story for another blog post 😅) and found my current job in a governmental institution, where I am testing web applications.

In 2019, during my daily 2+2 hours long train trips to Brussels from West Flanders, I was surfing the Internet. I came upon a book, one of the Head First series: Learn to Code: A Learner's Guide to Coding and Computational Thinking by Eric Freeman. The book used Python 3 to introduce certain concepts and said that the activities are NOT optional - they’re part of the core content of the book.
I remember enjoyment in writing in IDLE Rock, paper, scissors game, and later, Rock, paper, scissors, lizard, Spock, inspired by The Big Bang Theory. And then I got stuck somewhere on the for / while loops, then on the functions... all the time I was thinking that I just must be not smart enough, if I don't understand such simple concepts.

In April, I got accepted for a free Selenium 2-day workshop, organized by Geek Girls Carrots in Wrocław, Poland. This was my first encounter with Java.

Then, some months later, on the way home, my work laptop was stolen and with it, my miniscule coding progress. I was totally discouraged - I wish I wasn't scared of command prompt and knew how version control worked back then...


End of part I.

Discussion (2)

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Piotr Wilk

Cool story Anna, looking forward to reading the next parts! 2 + 2 hours daily!? :o That's sick! But it's a good opportunity for learning indeed ;)

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Ania Gajecka Author

Thanks for the comment Piotr! Yes, I specifically asked my employer for reimbursement of the train ticket instead of having a company car, because I would go mental in the car + environmental reasons :D