My last day of work is tomorrow, and I’d like to pen a few thoughts that are running through my head right now.
This job was interesting. In the interview, I was told I’d get to help contribute to feature development, and that’s a big reason why I took it. The title for this position was simply “quality assurance,” which doesn’t sound great. But I was assured that it wouldn’t be merely manual testing – as far as QA jobs go, this one had a fair bit of involvement with the actual code. But was it enough for me to want to take the job?
I remember when I got the offer for the job that I wasn’t overly excited. I only got rankings from other jobs that I really wanted, and this one didn’t compare to those ones on paper. I had also made the gaffe of not asking the salary, as I had realized halfway through the interview that this was a job I could actually see myself in, and I don’t typically ask the salary for jobs I want. I remember discussing with my family close friends what I should do – should I take the job, or try for a better one? After much consideration, I figured that this was 1b after all, midterms were next week, and it was better to avoid any hassle. So I took the job.
I’m happy to say that the dismal salary was the worst part of the job.
This job was awesome. From day one I was given relevant work, and felt like I had a significant role on the team. I was explained my QA roles, and none of it seemed bland. I began by writing and maintaining the automated regression scripts, and learned Python in the process. The next month I took on load testing, and implemented the system of testing which (I’m told) will continue after my time here. For the final month I focussed on unit testing, which was great because it was as white as whitebox testing gets. Translation – I got to play around with and understand the base code to a science. I didn’t finish implementing the unit testing, and the next coop will have a challening time (the installation of PHPUnit was nothing short of hell), but it will be a rewarding experience. With regards to the QA portion of this job, it wasn’t too bad at all – I actually became quite fond of it towards the end. It feels oddly satisfying knowing you’re the only one who understands the regression testing, and I felt like a key part of the team because of this.
The QA wasn’t bad, but it’s the exposure to development that I gained that made this experience what it was. My manager was very understanding and generous, and gave me as much dev work as I requested. Before this month, my knowledge of web development was literally limited to a few different html tags. Even though I know my understanding of it is still extremely humble, I’ve learned an incredible amount – so much so that I made my own website on my own time, albeit how poor it looks and objectively is. When I began working on the dev tasks, I was nervous as I didn’t want to mess anything up, or have to face the embarrassment of not being able to complete a task. But as the term progressed, I began to love having dev tasks assigned to me, and tried to ask for more as often as I could. I’m very grateful to my manager for giving me this opportunity to learn and better myself.
Of course I made mistakes, being new to development. They weren’t fun at the time, but I think I’ll look back at them reminiscingly and laugh (I know my coworkers already do). Like the time I prevented a bunch of flyers from being viewed on the live site, which actually lost our company revenue. Or the time I got our entire network blocked from a couple of our customers’ websites because I accidentally load tested their production servers, and convinced them their sites were under a DDOS attack. Or how on my first day I did the regression tests on the live site before my manager caught the error, and then stayed an hour late (on the first day!) to do the testing right. I’ll miss all of that.
By now it’s probably pretty clear I really liked this job. And as a result, I found myself doing things that I previously never imagined myself doing. For my last job, I did 9-5 on the dot every single day. But for this one, I stayed till about 5:30 most days simply due to how much I enjoyed the work. I also woke up at 5am once to test something on the live site to confirm a suspicion our lead developer had over how some customers were committing coupon fraud (happy to say he was right, and I only had to do that once). I also stayed as late as 7:30pm once to finish load testing. After having a five minute commute last coop, I had to commute one hour each way for this job, but I didn’t mind it. It was all for work I thoroughly enjoyed. I never thought I’d work hours like that, but looking back, I have absolutely no regrets.
So the work was great, but my favorite part of this job were the people with whom I worked. The coop students were all engineering students, a couple from different programs than ECE, and a couple also in different years. Despite those differences, the five of us fell into an easy friendship extremely quickly. The upper years were very helpful, especially the one who was on my team. He taught me a bunch of trivial yet essential skills such as everything git, best coding practices and building/deploying projects. I really enjoyed the company of all the coop students, and I hope to stay in touch with them for the rest of my time in Waterloo.
Coops aside, everyone else was pretty great as well. The dev team was pretty young – a lot of the people on the team were under 30. This was a huge contrast to my last job, where everyone was old enough to be my parent and already had their own children. Everyone was a lot of fun to work with, and just as fun to hang out with. We had a few pub nights which were awesome – it was really cool seeing people outside the work mindset and having the realization that we’re all basically the same when it comes to it. Essentially, no one’s a corporate machine all the time; when you hang out with them simply for the sake of doing so, it’s awesome to see their true colors. Everyone was very nice and helpful, especially the lead developer. I hope to someday be as smart as him, and as kind and generous a person as well. I hung out with another one of my coworkers a few times on the weekend, and it was a lot of fun to do cool stuff in the city with them, everything from boardgame cafes to comedy clubs to firework festivals to birthday parties. They gave us advice on everything from dating to dressing to interviews, and introduced us to some of the best (although expensive) restuarants I’ve ever been to. As some of the other coops expressed, the dev team really transcended from being a group of coworkers to stimulating a feeling of family. If there’s one thing that I’m going to miss the most from the job, it’s the awesome group of people with whom I was blessed to experience it.
Would I come back? I’m tempted to say yes. But just as I felt after my first coop, I want to try something different each term, and learn as much as I can from the experiences. I’m really, really going to miss everything about this job, but I feel I’ll grow the most the more I expose myself to different environments. Who knows, maybe someday our paths will cross again.
It’s going to feel utterly foreign not going to work on Monday and doing the regression tests. It’s truly a bittersweet feeling right now – I’m happy to go back home, but tremendously sad to be leaving Metroland and save.ca, and nervous for 2a. Here’s to hoping my future jobs are as amazing as this one!