Monthly Archives: September, 2014

Developing An Interactive Shadowing Program With Videos and Exercises

job shadowing

Recently, I had a high school student spend two-days in the Testing department to gain a basic understanding of what testing is all about. Most of us know the challenges of explaining a Testers’ responsibilities without making it look too easy or so difficult that you completely lose them. Some of these challenges are discussed in a prior posting that you can find here. If you are hosting a shadowing day or any similar opportunity, below are a few ideas to get you started.

I would like to thank the following people who contributed to providing suggestions and links to potential training material. Griffin Jones, Teri Charles, Jennifer Hannon, and Stephen Becht.

  • Create an initial agenda and identify a few alternatives. During the shadowing program there might be a need to change direction based upon how the person is reacting to the information. Some material might progress more quickly than expected. Other material you might decide is not appropriate once you get to know him better. Plus remember to have fun. Do not make it so serious or intense that you lose him! And make it interactive to keep him engaged.
  • Create a Testers’ Profile by asking the Software Testers to answer a few questions on how they selected testing as a career, what they enjoy about their job, and what advice they would give a new Tester. Compile the information in a newsletter or some other fun format to provide as a take away. Host a conversation where the Testers can discuss their careers so he has an opportunity to ask questions. Try to maintain a casual environment. Look for a location that has comfortable chairs like a coffee break room or a conference room that is not the board room.
  • Guru 99 has free software testing videos that last from about 1-minute to 5-minutes. They are basically snippets of information with some of them having small exercises to perform. Once the video is completed, discuss any questions and relate the material to something that he is familiar such as Facebook, Twitter etc. Reinforcing the material is important.
  • Whodunnit? This video is a lot of fun providing some great opportunities for a conversation afterwards. Before playing the video instruct him to write down his observations. Do not watch the end of the video until he writes down observations on what has changed during the murder investigation. Consider replaying the beginning part of the video a few times so he can have a chance to find what has changed. Most people are surprised when they find out how much has changed during that short video.
  • Basketball Awareness Test: Moonwalking Bear. From an awareness perspective a Tester may notice something that does not make sense or is out of scope. At that point, the Tester has to make a decision. Go down the new path to explore or quickly note the observation returning back to the original test. An interesting conversation – if you do not notice the moonwalking bear what does that mean? Is it good or is it bad?
  • Easy Button Exploratory Testing by James and Jonathan Bach. This is a great video since it uses a lot of the testing terms in a fun manner. A great option for after lunch when he might be feeling that carb sleepiness. If possible purchase an Easy Button to reproduce some of the tests and relate them to your Testing department.
  • Cast 2011 Promo 2 Video. Another video by James and Jonathan Bach. The Hidden Puzzle is very interesting since each Tester took different test paths to identify the picture. If possible, recreate the Hidden Puzzle exercise with him and include a few Testers. How did each person approach the testing? Who found the hidden picture? How many tests did it take? This could be a fun exercise while providing some real insight on testing.
  • Steve McQueen, Consulting Software Tester. A short scene from the Towering Inferno with subtitles relating to Testing. It is best to play the video and then play it again but pausing at different times for a discussion.
  • TestBash 2.0 – A-Galumphing We Go James Bach. A longer video. After watching it determine how you will evaluate if he is ready for the material.
  • Open Lecture by James Bach on Software Testing. This video is longer and could work well if you stop it at different points for a discussion.
  • Brain Focus and other similar exercises are great since they can parallel testing in terms of understanding the requirements, working through different testing paths, and the potential danger of making assumptions. When appropriate create a decision table / tree or other diagram similar to how your team approaches a testing problem.
  • Create an exercise form with discussion questions for the videos or other material to be reviewed. This helps foster a conversation between each exercise and provides a place for him to take notes.

And most importantly… do not forget the food! Cookies, donuts, candy, going out for lunch… food is always a nice touch!

Let me know if you have any other ideas on how we might sponsor a shadowing or internship for a student whether high school or college to introduce them to Software Testing!