An interview with five of our colleagues who joined us in 2022 through Altom internship program
An important part of what we do in our organization is the internship program, which is a wonderful opportunity to meet talented students that may join our team long term. In 2022, we had seven undergraduate & freshly graduate students participate in our program, of which five are now software testers at Altom.
The learning, the challenges, the mentorship and everything else that comes with the experience have a great impact on both the students and us as a team and organization.
With this thought in mind, we asked our five new colleagues a few questions about their experience as interns at Altom, both from a personal and professional perspective. This way, you may get a better idea of what it’s like to work at Altom and how we approach software testing. But first, let’s meet our new team members!
Elisa | Mathematics and Computer Science @ Babes Bolyai University
Mihai | Electronics, Telecommunications and Information Technology @ Technical University of Cluj-Napoca
Sandrina | Computer Science @ Babes Bolyai University
Diana | Business Information Systems @ Babes Bolyai University
Andrei | Computer Science @ Babes Bolyai University
About the internship program
Before we dive further into the story, we’d like to take you through some details about our internship program and help you form a better idea of it.
- Every year, we organize one or two editions of the internship program, each one presenting us with 3-4 students that are looking for a practical experience in software testing.
- Our most eligible candidates for the internship program already have a technical background, therefore we’re looking for students and soon-to-be graduates from mathematical or technical domains & specializations; these areas include (but not limited to): Mathematics, Computer Science, Business Information Systems, Electronics, Physics, Chemistry, Engineering and other applied sciences.
- The program is an intense 3-month learning and practical experience, with mentors guiding the students throughout the process and involving them in real projects.
- During our program, our interns focus both on individual and group learning through specific activities.
- Considering the high rate of hireability in the past internship editions, we’re generally looking for people who want to start a job after the 3-month period (full-time or part-time), and are also compatible with our mission and values.
Choosing software testing at Altom
When starting an internship, some students usually go about with the simple intention to learn and have a practical experience of what they study in school. Others are also focused on longer term goals, like getting a taste of a real job, boosting their employability and, eventually, getting hired on a full-time role.
Our internship program is one of our favorite things we do at Altom. As an organization focused solely on software testing, we’re committed to promoting and supporting a different approach to this field and share this vision with our clients and our colleagues. That’s why we’re excited to see ex-interns from our program still counting valuable years in our team AND why we’re excited when new generations of interns choose to follow this professional path and join us.
In 2022, five out of seven students that participated in the internship program became full-time or part-time software testers at Altom.
Mihai is one of the five students who became full-time testers in our team right after completing their internship with us last year. He was in his third year of university, studying Electronics, Telecommunications and Information Technology, when he started to be more interested in software testing: “[…] so that’s what made me apply [for the internship] in the first place. I had a very nice interview with the company’s HR. During that interview, I found out that in addition to testing, the company was passionate about all kinds of recreational and knowledge activities. I think that made me want to be part of Altom even more.”
Likewise, when asked why he chose Altom for his practice, Andrei recalls that “in a workshop organized by the college, dozens of companies presented their offer, Altom being the one that piqued my interest the most. An internship based on software testing, a field unexplored until then, in which the application of the accumulated knowledge, but also the possibility of learning other things, combined perfectly for the journey I was about to embark on.”
It’s commonly known that, in the IT industry, there are a handful of high profile companies that specialize in programming, web development or other popular technical areas, but not as much on advanced software testing. “At first it was just another job that I applied to, but quickly enough, after I mentioned it during one of the Automated Testing courses that I attended at that time, I realized that it was the right choice for me.”, Diana explains.
Testing is a key branch of the tech environment because it can substantially make technologies and products better. Just as Sandy concisely points out, “Everything in life should be under testing.”. We believe the tech industry needs more talented professionals in testing, and it’s great to see students curious to explore the “unexplored”, as Andrei previously mentioned.
Mentorship & Learning
When joining a new organization, as an intern or a full-time employee, no matter the extent of one’s work experience, the openness to learn and to adapt to the environment is essential. As an organization, we create a space for learning and constantly refining our skills, a place where we find support and a helpful community.
“The learning process was clear and transparent. We were initially presented with a learning scheme, step by step, and we knew exactly what and where to get information from.
Later, when we started working on practical projects, together with other colleagues from the company, we were given all the tasks and deadlines, so that we know how to do our job as best as possible.”– Elisa
Beyond the technical side, we also put significant value on soft skills that help us work in a collaborative environment. This is where we constantly seek and offer valuable feedback, where we tap into a creative and expansive mindset that allows us to find effective solutions. Moreover, developing the ability to self-evaluate and cross-evaluate others, to investigate and structure information, to efficiently manage time is another focal point of the program.
Andrei adds that “thanks to the mentor, but also to the helpful colleagues, the learning process was not difficult at all; step by step, the things learned came together like pieces of a puzzle.”
Mentors are not only here to guide the students through their everyday tasks and projects, but also to encourage personal growth, nurturing principles to live by furthermore. For Sandrina (a.k.a. Sandy), there were three important principles that remained with her.
“Offer help every time you can.
Take your time to do a great job.
Ask for help when you need [it].”– Sandy
During the internship, everybody had a chance to attend a BBST® Foundations course for free, a highly extensive and scientifically based software testing course – which we’ve been actively promoting and teaching since 2014. It is suitable for someone who wants to advance their career in software testing, providing a solid knowledge base in this direction.
The BBST® Foundations course is both challenging and rewarding, as one constantly steps out of their comfort zone in developing essential skills, from testing methodologies and techniques to critical thinking and problem solving.
Testing & Creativity
As it is expected in a software testing company, the central part of the internship revolves around learning and developing specific technical skills, like bug investigation & bug reporting, using an extensive palette of methodologies, techniques and tools for testing and programming.
We take this initial phase of the internship very seriously and we dedicate a lot of time and attention to training, mentoring, guiding our interns, as thriving for excellence is essential to our mission and ethos, so we pass it forward.
Methodology, techniques and tools
In terms of testing and programming, Andrei recounts the processes and technologies they used: “Because of the wide range of different projects I’ve worked on, I’ve been able to take different approaches to testing. I performed both manual tests – through exploratory testing, black-box testing, white-box testing, user acceptance testing, integration testing, or system testing, as well as automated tests – using apps or tools like Robot Framework, JMeter, Postman, Swagger UI, Selenium, and programming languages alongside specific testing libraries such as Java with TestNG, or Python with Pytest.”
All throughout the internship, along with the theoretical learning, the students worked on real projects to put their knowledge to practical use. The projects and the domains for testing were varied and ranged from video surveillance systems, access control platforms, data-sharing ecosystems, security protection, to gaming applications using Unity.
Diana shared a few details about her experience on a cool project she’s been working on, to this day, since her internship days.
“I am using a tool developed within the company to create automated tests for a Unity app. During this time I learned how to write efficient tests, how to quickly find the information that I am looking for and how to make the tests friendly to the non-technical eyes, which plays an important part when working with clients.”– Diana
What role does creativity play in software testing?
Some people may think that creativity is some kind of personal feature reserved for the artists and less for the tech-specialized folks. It is rather a misconception that sometimes shadows the tech industry. However, creativity plays “the most essential role”, as Sandy highlights. “Creativity is a very powerful skill not only in testing but in general in the IT field.”, Mihai adds.
Creativity’s role in testing became quickly palpable for Elisa when the quest for practical solutions intensified, despite her initial doubt that such a technical activity would present less creative space for her: “There are many examples in which creativity played an important role, such as the search for solutions for the code to be implemented as well as possible, creating different schemes that summarize what an application does, writing explicit bug reports etc.”
The challenges can vary from person to person, depending on their previous experience, personality, learning style, communication skills and so on. An internship is not short of such trials.
Especially when working together with a colleague, differences in approach and thinking process may occur. While challenging, it does welcome new opportunities to expand our own vision, find more creative solutions to a given issue, learn to communicate more efficiently and build a stronger collaboration. For Elisa – and not just for her -, “the challenging part was pair testing – when you write an automation test together with another colleague). […] Pair testing is often needed. You have to understand where your limits are, what you still have to work on your own perceptions and realize how different we are as people.”
Pair testing brings forward not only aspects like communication, collaboration, active listening, patience, but also potentially more issues to solve, solutions and approaches in testing. Here is where individual creativity can become a force when paired with another team member.
On a more technical level, Diana’s biggest challenge was working on “the Unity and C# pair […], as it was more advanced than what I was taught during university. Unity is a complex game engine that was unknown to me, so learning it from scratch was definitely a journey.”
“I can say that the biggest challenge for me was to accommodate myself to the continuous search for information.
Another thing was the accommodation with API testing. I have always been passionate about UI testing, it seemed very cool to me that the actions in the UI could be done by themselves, just because I wrote some code.
API testing is something else, it’s not so visual, but instead, I’ve managed to get used to it now, because I’ve been working on this part for some time and it seems to me as beautiful as UI testing.”– Mihai
Testing, learning methodologies, tools and programming languages, challenges and all, it wasn’t always just about that for Mihai, Elisa, Diana, Andrei and Sandy. They were welcomed into a group of people who share the excitement and hunger for learning, who are keen on collaborating with each other and working towards a common goal.
“My experience at Altom was something new and unprecedented for me. I gained experience both on the professional side, discovering a field unexplored by me until now, and on the personal side.
I learned how to work in a team, how to receive or give feedback, to think critically, and also to be creative. In addition to this, I also had a friendly and welcoming team, which helped me to integrate more easily and helped me every time I needed it.”– Andrei
“It was a total change for my vision and perspectives. I met amazing different people, debated topics that helped me develop and, the most important aspect I believe, was the fact that I didn’t feel like I was being followed from every point of view. I felt that I was given space to develop”, Elisa candidly acknowledges.
Sandy: “Best internship of my life. Never seen so many people ready to help you with everything you need (even outside of office).”
We pride ourselves with a great community within our organization, one that is connected through shared values and generally has a positive approach to our work and to each other. In the end, we’re really happy and grateful when people get to feel that kind of energy the moment they step into this environment and get in contact with our colleagues.
If you’re a soon-to-graduate student and you’re looking for an opportunity to explore the ins and outs of software testing, we’d really like to hear from you.