Reflecting Back and Looking Forward

I don’t typically do a end-of-year post. In fact, I think this is my first one. I wasn’t going to write this one, either - mostly because I felt like I hadn’t really accomplished anything. But as I thought back about my 2018, I realized that I actually had accomplished quite a few things that I’m proud of. One of my goals for 2019 is to be more intentional - that is, to do more explicit planning for my path forward, and I know there are things in 2018 that I can use to inform and inspire my approaches and goals for 2019. So my first step toward that is writing this post, thinking about what I did or didn’t do, and how I can use my experiences from the past year to succeed in the new year.

2018 Accomplishments

Overall, 2018 was a really good year for my professional growth outside of work, and I’m happy and proud to look back. I feel like I became more comfortable acknowledging my technical expertise, and started to find my voice and participate more in the software testing community.

✏️ I wrote a lot in 2018! I wrote about my role as a QA engineer; learning about change management; and reflected on the kind of leader I like to be. In addition to just writing for my own blog, Jess Lee reached out and asked me to cross-post on The Practical Dev, which was super exciting! In August, I became a paid author when TechBeacon asked me to write an article for them, which kind of blew my mind. And a month after that, I got to write an article for TestCraft about building better relationships between developers and QA engineers.

👯 In early 2018, I participated in a Career & Technical Panel for Women Who Code PDX. It was a lot of fun (and I got to share the spotlight with some of my favorite women and coworkers), but it was also one of the first times that I spoke to people in software and tech about what I do as a QA engineer. I remember I felt generally nervous about being on a panel and answering questions, but I felt confident about being able to answer them well - no imposter syndrome!

📢 2018 is the year that I gave my first conference talks! I spoke about automating visual regression testing at PNSQC, and how I helped create a culture of quality at TestBash USA. I also met some really fantastic people at the conferences, which felt really good.

💰 In addition to writing and speaking, I got a new job in 2018 - my second job as a QA engineer, and one that came with a 40% pay raise. In part, it was a good reassurance that being successful as a QA engineer wasn’t a fluke, and it was also gratifying to remember that my skills and how I carry them out are in demand and useful.

2019 Goals

I’ve learned that I actually really like public speaking - I enjoy sharing my experiences and my knowledge with other people, and having a voice in the testing community. I also learned that I’ll have an anxiety attack about an hour before I go on stage, but once I get up and start talking, I feel good. I did two conferences in 2018, so my goal for 2019 is three conferences! I’ll be speaking at REFACTR in June, and I’m applying to several others for next year as well. Just to put it out into the universe, I’m especially crossing my fingers for CAST and Agile Testing Days (Europe or USA), and I’d love to speak at PNSQC and TestBash again!

I’ve learned that I like leading, even when my official role isn’t a leadership role. I’ve also learned that in my enthusiasm to support and improve, I can push too much or go too fast. Even if I know that the changes or ideas I’m suggesting are better, I need to wait for everyone else to catch up and decide for themselves. I want to be more thoughtful about how I lead people, and more patient about taking the time to share my thoughts and listen to theirs.

I’ve learned that there are some great communities in social media, especially Twitter and Slack. In 2019, I want to be a more active participant in those communities - less passive reading, and more active and positive contributions to the conversations that are happening. I’ve been inspired by people I’ve met online, and I want to be more engaged in the learning and support that goes on.

I’ve learned that I like learning, and I feel bored and unmotivated when it feels like I’m doing the same work or solving the same challenges over and over. I want to broaden my testing skills in 2019 - security testing and performance testing are two areas that I’m especially interested in. I also want to be better at understanding and creating effective CI/CD practices.

I focused a lot on my career in 2018, and obviously I still have a lot of professional goals coming into 2019! But I also want to think about personal goals in the new year. I want to learn, and explore, and grow. Some things I want to do in 2019:

  • baking a new kind of bread once or twice a month
  • taking one kind of DIY or art class per month (I’ve got my eye on a loom weaving class to start!)
  • figuring out and maintaining an exercise routine
  • getting involved in a regular volunteer opportunity
  • getting back into hiking and exploring around Oregon
  • read more books & listen to more podcasts

At a high-level, all of this means that I want to take more time for myself in the new year. I will always be a work in progress, and I want to figure out who and how I want to be in 2019, and make progress on being the best version of me.

What are your goals for 2019? What are things that you learned from 2018? Have you figured out the secret to motivating yourself to workout every day, or discovered an amazing bread recipe? Leave a comment - I’d love to hear from you!

Written on December 31, 2018