If we don’t reach out to each other, we are useless to each other![The industry and the Academia]

Being a Software Tester and Trainer, I have a ringing question in my mind about the way we are trying to do testing and the way it should be done – I mean is it really that difficult to understand? Or is it that hard to think on the basis of the instincts, and the intuitions we inherit as humans? Why are we as Testing Professionals still so reluctant to use them and try to search out what can be the alternatives of the latter?

The knowledge seeking shall never end, but then if we keep seeking it in the wrong direction, we can end up actually believing it, and then eventually make others follow it. What I have experienced that this has happened on various levels of Software and Software Testing Field, and we are still trying to seek out the right definitions and roles for Computer Professionals, Testing and Testers;

The Questions:

I want to ask this to the testing professionals that why they still tend to roll down to traditional testing approaches, why we face the same questions again and again about their roles in the company? “Am I a Test Engineer? Or a QA Engineer? If I am a QA engineer then would they pay me more or less? Should I call myself QA? These ambiguities have startled the career of Testers, and even on various levels (due to certain trends created by Determined Marketers of Certifications and Tools) this has damaged the very career paths of talented professionals and software testers –

We need to bring this all into clear waters; question is how and from where?

In Search of the answers:

I tried to find that answer, been trying to find it past 15 years. I had a couple of choices to start my search, either go to the Industry side and see what is happening, what are the business demands, how this thing works in practical, how clients are entertained, the roles of professionals in various levels of the project? but then it is all very well defined and somewhat framed as per the core needs of each company

– or –

I visit the very roots of the ICT Professional, where it all actually starts out – The Academia! which I did;

Let’s make one thing clear; it is not (entirely) their fault – but then nobody’s perfect; what I was searching was the answer to one question, that why the education system is designed on the basis of development paradigm and not on the basis of understanding about computer industry culture and norms. I was also searching for the answer about Quality assurance and Testing NOT as an equivalent part of the studies. By the way, I firmly belief that if you wish to chose the career as a testing professional, then development and it’s know how is a must, otherwise, how would you test something, if you don’t have the idea how it was developed?

The Inconvenient Truths:

I alongside a number of “Volunteers” from ICT industry and academia have been trying to address this very alarming yet still hidden issue. Being a representative of the ICT Industry we are and have conducting sessions for “Career Guidance” and ‘Awareness to Different Technical and Non Technical Skills” at various universities, campuses and setups. We even visit Student Project Exhibitions and do guest speaking sessions for the same purpose, yet what we have encountered each time was a very disturbing fact;

What our students are taught does not relate to the industrial norms and cultures in reality. It is sometimes either “Too Bookish” or “Too Advanced” – and that is for the content which is present in the syllabus – what students try to learn outside the syllabus is actually dependent on the “Time” they have beside preparing for their exams and semester / final year projects;

Absence of contents:

Then there is the content which should be in the syllabus but is not! In our case for example the subject of “Testing and Quality Assurance” is one chapter throughout the degree process, and is an elective; it is however noted that now due to the demand of the industry the course is offered separately in some setups; but still that is not enough. This results in a very skeptic comment such as ‘Testing is a secondary career” – which by the way is not, ask a developer!

We have to seek with a very broad horizon in mind to inquire about the right resources, who are aware of Testing and how is it done, otherwise we rely on the people who took the “Testing” career as a inferior role; when we go to Academia with the same requirement, we get Graduates and Students with a broken knowledge of the latter – most of them are confused among the roles and the rest are not still encompassing it under development;

We are producing followers, not leaders!

This dilemma follows the students and Graduates like hungry zombies and hence at the professional levels they start following the different trends so to get the jobs. These trends are not related to the development of the skill, rather earning money and promoting you in an organization, or help one out in leaving the country.

The Solutions:

The gap is addressed only when we reach out to each other. When industry representatives communicate with the Faculty but then the listening and doing process should be two fold and should affect both sides with the same impact. It is also addressed when Faculty members give a free hand to the students in learning and development their talents – no strings attached! If we are not getting the right resources, then we should attain such processes and methods to groom and shape them for our settings, and doing that, we should communicate and implement this to the academia.

Career Guidance Sessions, Professional Awareness Sessions, Final Year Project Exhibitions, Conferences, and Meet-ups, are somethings which can be easily sponsored by the academia and the industry, which in turn can be a blessing for the students, fresh graduates and even professionals;

We need to make the right noise, we need to identify the talent and what they have achieved, but with cross referencing, Industry doing that for academia and academia doing that for the industry;

Well, the mantle has been passed and we are now moving along; hopefully with the dedication and efforts of both sides, we can guarantee good future for our talents, and a great career for our professionals.