253: The Life of a Solo Automation Engineer with Chris Kenst

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In this episode discover what it takes to become an automation engineer in a startup with Chris Kenst. Chris also shares tips on how to improve your automation skills leveraging education and conferences. You’ll also discover an awesome resource to make sure you never miss another can’t miss testing event.

About Chris Kenst

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Chris Kenst has been improving software quality for nearly 15 years, now serving as an Automation Engineer at BloomNation in Santa Monica, CA. A Board Member for the Non-Profit Association for Software Testing he is working to build better testing education through the AST-BBST classes, webinars and more. An occasional speaker at software conferences and meetups, he writes regularly at Kenst.com and a few other places around the web. Created and maintains an open source list of software testing conferences and workshops from around the world at testingconferences.org.

Quotes & Insights from this Test Talk with Chris Kenst

  • It's a sort of funny thing. I talk to people and they're like oh startups don't hire testers and I'm like I always get hired startups. I'm also usually the sole Tester. So basically what that means is I'm usually recruited by the CTO and the CTO usually comes and they're like hey we have a testing problem here is what it is. Help us figure it out. So that's sort of been my mode of operation for a long time.
  • We have a small team. It's a small engineering team and a small product team and we all sit next to each other. I'm fully embedded in the engineering team. And so part of it is I was like Listen you just feel free to use me as you need to help mitigate problems, put me in the risky areas that kind of thing. And so we do have an overall automation plan. But in terms of what I do day to day, it actually does vary based on like when is our next release, what's in the release what is my CTO concerned about.
  • You know the funny thing about doing automation is that in order to write the automation you have to understand the features that are out there anyways. And so with that ends up meaning if you end up having to dive deep into a lot of the functionality and features in order to really understand what makes sense automation what doesn't.
  • I have a big impact when I joined the company and I can speak very well to what I do and the value that I add and the things that I like to see the business do so from once to I get the introduction I'm able to I think proved pretty well that I would be an added value but ultimately for startups they have to get to a point and from what I understand it's usually when the CTO gets bogged down so much with quality issues or testing that they don't have enough time to do the things they want to do than they actually actively look for hiring a tester or an automation person.
  • We have some node APIs and some Magento APIs and then we're using a suite called dredd for basically interpreting our swagger specifications and then auto-generating tests from those.
  • So actionable advice I think it's gonna be corny but the best actionable advice I can give to someone whether you're wanting to learn automation or just wanting to get better at something is. I found the best way to make time for that kind of stuff whether or not you have the time after work but if you want to get it done during work I've found the best way to do it is literally to schedule the work. It turns out in my experience that my managers and the people around me are really supportive especially as engineers will be able to learn new things. And if you tell someone you want to learn something new as long as you can get over the fear of actually expressing that they'll generally help you do it and even allow you to do it on work time. Most of the time.

Connect with Chris Kenst

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