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Tester Spotlight: Somkinvanya and Sablina

Michael Ebako-Hodgson

Today we’d like you all to meet not one but a family of testers—Somkinvanya and Sablina. Based out of Ukraine, the couple started testing for test IO three years ago, and last month Somkinvanya even became a Team Leader. Read on to learn what they think testers should focus on, how they approach ecommerce testing, and how they even enlisted their daughter’s help in a test.

Michael: Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? How did you got interested in testing?

Somkinvanya: I’m Somkinvanya, I’m from Ukraine. I started testing by accident. I just started googling and somehow found that this exists. I really didn't think it could be my profession in the future. I just decided to try and register. After a few hours, I completed onboarding tests. I started working with quickly afterward, and I like it a lot. I joined after three months. I am under still two years. I started just when by doing some reproductions. I earned some money for doing my shopping. I wanted to continue to push myself—this inspired me to study something new. That’s how I became a team leader a month ago.

Evgeniya: Congratulations on that! It's truly deserved. So how do you feel in your role as a team leader? You used to be a fellow tester, and now you have to review their bugs and even reject them.

Somkinvanya: It’s a difficult to reject bugs, but, of course, I try always to give good details for my rejections, so testers will understand and learn.

Evegeniya: What was the biggest challenge from switching from tester to team lead? What's the biggest difference you noticed?

Somkinvanya: There are some difficult situations since the job has many responsibilities. You need to find the balance between being loyal to the testers and bringing value to the customer. I also always want to bring work with me everywhere because I feel like I can always do one more test.

Evgeniya: Do you think it's one of the challenges of doing a freelance job where you find it difficult to achieve a work/life balance? Even if you’re taking time off, you might have the urge to test something?

Somkinvanya: I consider this not a challenge, but great advantage. I worked at a hardware store for more than 10 years, and I could never do that there.

Evgeniya: Did you have software skills before you started testing?

Somkinvanya: I completed several programming courses, online courses at Coursera and Udacity. Just for myself. It was interesting for me—I had some spare time. I know the basics of programming.

Sablina: I finished university in 2001. It was many years ago, but I would say that helped lay a foundation for learning about other topics. My education helps me.

Evgeniya: What is your favorite part about testing?

Sablina: Every testing cycle is different. It's not routine. Every product is different. You can work with this web app, with this iOS apps—it can be very different. This is what makes testing work so interesting. When I worked in an office, I learned new things for the first few months and then everyday it became repetitive. Here, we can test various products and it's the best part. It's never boring.

Evgeniya: That’s great. What's the most challenging or interesting test cycle that you've been a part of?

Somkinvanya: There’s two types of test cycles that are interesting to me. One is when you have to install something or watch a presentation just to understand how this product works. You have to read attentively all instructions. After this, you should understand what the customer wants.

Michael: Do you feel like you approach every product site the same way?

Sablina: Yes, I usually follow the same steps while testing. For ecommerce, I start with registration. I put some products in the cart, and I try to do the wish list, for example. It's very similar every time. After an hour or so, I can explore some particular section more of this site because I feel that there may be more to look at. In general, of course, is this a ecommerce site I do the same tests.

Somkinvanya: Yes, because online shopping has all the same goals.

Sablina: And I have plenty of experience in online shopping.

Once, when I was shopping on a site in my spare time, I was so frustrated. There were so many bugs on this site. I was so angry until I finished my order. I knew the owner, so I told them about it and in some ways, they got free testing from it!

Evgeniya: I'm curious, can you both remember the most interesting bug you’ve found?

Somkinvanya: Once a customer asked me to test something and I found a bug irrelevant to their test. Not a single address for this country was accepted. It was impossible to do the test. I submitted a critical bug report, and it was accepted It was really fun.

Honestly, all good bugs, I find accidentally. When I do a production, or I try to reproduce my back end or find something you I remember that it was application. One time, I started a test cycle where there were many bugs. When I started to do production, I understand that at one place, my application looks not like intended—not like the other testers. It was a bug, and it was accepted. Yes, it was accepted.

Evgeniya: When you start testing a new approach, do you focus on finding bugs? Or do you also do a lot of bug reproductions user stories and use other services, or is it purely focusing on finding bugs?

Sablina: It depends upon when I start to test. In the beginning of the test, of course, I read the instructions carefully. then I start to check all this all the rules of this all feature description to test all this. Then I start to do reproduction. I often find bugs while making reproductions. If user stories are present in this the cycle, I start, I check all the user stories. It helps, it helps.

Somkinvanya: As for me, when I started three years ago, for the first four months, 90% of my activity was reproductions. I just made reproductions and submitted were a few bugs. I then began to find more and more bugs. And at some point, I focused on finding bugs, not on doing reproductions. As time went on, the less reproductions I made and more bugs I submitted.

Evgeniya: So, would you advise new beginner testers who are just starting their careers and testing to start with reproductions to learn from them and then go into a bigger tasks?

Somkinvanya: Yes, I say start with reproductions. I think starting with with reproductions pre producing is the best strategy is. I think that this is a great advantage of working for is that they pay for reproductions, not just bugs.

Evegeniya: From the team leaders’ perspective: what advice would you give testers to in beginner testers and maybe even more advanced testers? What do team leaders value about bugs? How can they improve their testing skills?

Somkinvanya: I think that the most important thing is that the report should be well written. This should follow all the code academy rules. All steps should be described with detailed titles to be good. Expected and actual result should be very detailed. If I see the tester has spent a lot of effort writing a good report—he tried to follow all the rules—I try to help the tester. Even if I have to reject the bug, I always give a good explanation for the tester. And, of course, follow the instructions of the cycle.

Evgeniya: I know that you have a little daughter, so will you start teaching her to test early?

Somkinvanya: Yes, I should say she once found a bug actually. She found two crashes.

Sablina: Two days ago with we had to write a review usability for a game. I had to reach 15 level, so I played with Tanya. After 11 levels, I left this cycle, unfortunately, because it was too time-consuming, but Tanya liked it.

I think it's a good practice for her because I think that our kids should start to learn early on then.

Evgeniya: She'll be a future star in our community, I can already see it.

Michael: Are there any kinds of products that you wish you saw on the test IO platform that you don't see now? Any kind of companies that you wish you could test?

Somkinvanya: It's hard to say is for me, I'd like to test really big project like a video game. For example, I like to play FIFA, and it would be really great to test something similar with so many features.

Sablina: Yes. If a product has many features, it's more interesting. And it doesn't matter if this ecommerce web shop or its application or something else or a bank website. If there are many features, it will be always interesting.

Michael: What’s the best way to prioritize test cycles for testers?

Sablina: Of course, if the test is new, I will take this. Also if I know the customer or know if it has a lot of bugs, I will take part.

Somkinvanya: For example, there was a tester that we participated in every cycle and there were many bugs. It stimulated us to take part into cycles into the very often. Every time we explored it more deeply and we found a lot of bugs. It was great to take part in these cycles.

Every tester should participate in what tests look interesting to you.

Sablina: If testers want to study and to learn something new, they should take part in all the cycles. After some time, they can understand which products are interesting for them.

Somkinvanya: That’s what I did when I first started. There used to be less tests, but now there are so many to choose from. It's another great advantage of test IO.

Michael: How do you organize your time?

Somkinvanya: Immediately after I wake up, I sit on my computer and I start to work. I will work all day into the night. Every day, of course, is different. I will look at what cycles I can do each day. I usually figure out it in the morning what invitations I have, and I make some plans for the day. I usually work six days a week.

Sablina: With our daughter at home, I can work less, but I try to spend as much time as I can. I work maybe four hours a day.

We enjoy our job. It’s something we want to do.

Michael: I’m glad to hear it. It’s what you make of it.

Sablina: It’s hard to say how much we work every day because it’s different every day.

Somkinvanya: It’s another great advantage of test IO.

Michael: Do you have any advice for aspiring testers who will read this?

Somkinvanya: Testing is fun, and do it!

Sablina: It’s a good job because every day you can learn something. It inspires you to improve your English or learn another language. Somkinvanya learned German to participate in German tests.

Somkinvanya: I found a lot of tests were coming in German. Every time, I had to use Google Translate. I’m still a beginner, but I can understand the general instructions. I hope to continue to study German to become a better speaker. Of course, I also study English. We are trying to watch movies in English. It’s continuous work.

Evgeniya: How was the process for becoming a team leader?

Somkinvanya: I dreamed about this position for a long time, so I was happy to get the position.

If you want to read other stories like Somkinvanya and Sablina’s , check out this interview with another tester, Alex. If you want to be like them, sign up to become a tester, here.



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