The journey to successful career in Quality Assurance starting from the Software Testing academy

Interview with Gjore Zaharchev - Quality Assurance Line Manager and founder of SEDC’s Software Testing Academy, Angelina Stamatoska - Intermediate Testing Engineer, Marina Veljanoska - Junior Testing Engineer, and Dimitar Stojanovski - Junior Testing Engineer.

To avoid or minimize errors that may occur in the IT system, the software should be tested and checked in a timely manner. Software Тesting is part of Quality Assurance and consists of a wide range of activities aimed at checking if the results of the software system match the expectations, looking for shortcomings, and identifying errors. The better the testing, the longer the product’s lifetime will be. The purpose of Automated Quality Assurance is to establish an automated process for quality assessment.

A few years ago, the Seavus Education and Development Center (SEDC) opened a Software Testing Academy with the mission of helping create quality staff in the field of manual and automated software testing. Attending and successfully completing this Academy can be a stepping stone for entering the IT industry; a few of the Academy’s graduates have already found employment at Seavus. 

Founder of the Academy is Gjore Zaharchev, an expert in manual and automated testing with a working experience in this field of over 15 years, who is currently working as a Quality Assurance Line Manager at Seavus and is in charge of the software testing team. Furthermore, he is a member of the South East European Testing Board (SEETB). Below is our interview with Gjore Zaharchev on the topic of QA Automation.

When was the Software Testing Academy established? How many students have attended it since, and how many of them have found employment in the company? 

Gjore Zaharchev: The Academy has existed for almost three and a half years and has produced about 280 graduates, 15 of which have started a career at Seavus after completing the courses.

Can you tell us something more about the Academy’s syllabus, which you prepared in collaboration with the Seavus Education and Development Center?

Gjore Zaharchev: Our motivation when designing the Academy’s syllabus was to share the knowledge and everyday work experiences of software testing engineers from different companies and base the learning process on practical rather than theoretical knowledge. The practical modules include manual testing, databases, project management methodologies, and automated testing, whereas the courses on ISTQB FL and ISTQB AT were designed to give students who have not graduated from a technical faculty the necessary theoretical knowledge to make a career shift, acquire internationally recognized certificates and find a job in the field, here or abroad. This year, starting from September, the Academy will be for the first time delivered in two separate courses: an Academy for Manual Testing and an Academy for Automated Testing. This way the schedule will be less crowded, which we hope will make it easier for students to attend the classes.   

How can interested candidates apply for the Academy?  

Gjore Zaharchev: The link to apply for the Software Testing Academy can be found on SEDC’s website. Anyone can apply by clicking on this link and filling in a simple form. After this, however, candidates are invited for a short interview so we can check if they have the level of English proficiency required to easily follow the learning materials.    

What does the job of a software tester include and how much are software testers valued today?

Gjore Zaharchev: A software tester needs to possess a set of skills consisting of basic programming, databases, and ability to approach problems in a logical and mathematical way, which is crucial for finding errors in software. The need for software testers is growing day by day. Software is an integral part of today’s world, and software errors can lead to financial loss or, in some cases, to human fatalities. To avoid unwanted scenarios, software testing has become an indispensable part of the software developing process, a service that is charged to clients along with the first version of the ordered software. We asked three Seavus employees who started their testing career after completing the Academy: Angelina Stamatoska - Intermediate Testing Engineer, Martina Veljanoska - Junior Testing Engineer, and Dimitar Stojanovski - Junior Testing Engineer, to share their experiences.

How did you decide to enroll in the Software Testing Academy and what is your experience from it? 

Angelina Stamatoska: As someone who comes from another line of work, I was feeling a bit insecure and had a lot of questions at the beginning, which is probably typical of anyone who is hesitant about making a career shift or starting a career in this field in general. However, in order to succeed, one has to take bold career steps and be determined. I am a person who likes new challenges and that is exactly what I saw in the Software Testing Academy - a challenge. So, I decided to enroll, and in time, as I was growing professionally, I realized that this challenge is also an opportunity for all those who want to gain new experiences and work in a supportive and positive atmosphere.        

As for the courses at the Academy, I have to commend the lecturers for their modern and open teaching approach, which helped us incredibly to complete the initial tasks. They gave us practical guidelines and supported us whenever it was needed. This was essential for us to gain self-confidence and soon be able to respond to the challenges of the profession on our own. Another benefit from the Academy was the opportunity to make new friends, and I am happy to say that I still keep in touch with many of my colleagues.     

How did you deal with the challenge of working on serious projects in Seavus right after finishing the Academy?

Angelina Stamatoska: I was ready to start working on serious projects in Seavus because of my serious approach to the Academy to begin with. It was there that I got the right directions that helped me fit in and start applying what I had learned right away. From today’s point of view, my readiness to respond to serious projects and challenges was undoubtedly the result of my dedication to the course; I regularly attended the classes and did my homework on time. Of course, throughout the whole learning process, I had the full support of my mentor, Gjore Zaharchev, whose lectures were focused on automated testing. An important factor in my successful onboarding was the corporate culture itself, which offered unlimited resources to expand the  knowledge I had already acquired. I also have to mention my experience as an assistant and lecturer at following Software Testing Academies, which helped me improve even more. How well you will fit into this profession also depends on your personality, communication skills, courage, perseverance, and ability to adapt to change. The secret of my success is probably my courage and determination. I am not afraid of the unknown and I am ready to deal with new situations every day. If I could go back in time, I wouldn’t hesitate to make the same decision even earlier.      
What is your impression of the Academy and Seavus in general?

Martina Veljanoska: I enrolled in the Software Testing Academy in 2020, and that is one of the best professional decisions I have made. The lecturers were very approachable and patient given that many of us were new to the IT terminology and environment. Everything was unfamiliar and confusing at first, but with each passing class, task and homework we did, the duties of a software tester appeared more comprehensible and more interesting. I enjoyed the classes so much that sometimes I wouldn’t even notice when the time had passed and I always looked forward to the next lecture. After successfully completing the Academy, I came across the posting for the Talent Program organized by the Telecom Division, and I decided to apply for it. I completed the Program as well, and one month later I was contacted by Seavus for the position of a Junior Testing Engineer in their Banking and Finance Division. For the first few months after accepting the offer, I went through an intensive training for automated testing, which made me especially thrilled and motivated as it was one of my favorite subjects at the Academy. I started learning C# (although we studied Java at the Academy), RestSharp, Jenkins, Jmeter and many other tools that greatly facilitate and improve the work of a QA. Soon I started working on a project where I had the opportunity to develop and run automated tests on my own. From my experience in Seavus, I can say that this is a company where you can learn and upgrade your knowledge on a daily basis.         

Tell us something more about yourself. How did the Academy contribute to your professional development and what is it like to work in a company like Seavus?  

Dimitar Stojanovski: My name is Dimitar. I am a positive and ambitious person, ready for change and constant progress. :-) By nature, I am also very curious, so although I had no experience in the IT industry, and after working many years in the field of international sale, I decided to do something completely different and enroll in SEDC’s Software Testing Academy, a decision that changed my life in the most positive sense of the word. At the Academy I acquired a solid foundation for working with databases, agile methodologies, manual and automated testing. I was fully dedicated to the course and I spent a great deal of my free time, in between my job and the lectures at the Academy, trying to get deeper into the material and advance to the next level of knowledge. Overall, attending the Academy was a positive learning experience, with a well-organized syllabus, top-level lecturers and assistants, experts in their field, who were always available for advice or help, and interactive lectures that helped us master the material and learn the concepts. Of course, the road to success wasn’t always easy, but here I am, proudly working as a Junior Test Engineer in Seavus’ Banking and Finance Division for nine months already, which goes to show how dedication and hard work can pay off and be crowned with success! When I started working at Seavus, each passing day was a chance to improve and broaden my knowledge. Since then, I have learned many new practices and technologies in the field of automated backend and frontend testing. Seavus offers beginners tremendous opportunities for growth and career development. Under the excellent mentorship of Gjore Zaharchev and by closely collaborating with the team members while working on internal and external projects, I could implement and enhance the knowledge I acquired at the Academy. I am happy to be surrounded by people with positive energy and work in this industry in general. I have finally found my place under the sun, and the feeling is incredible.