I first developed chronic depression during uni back in 2012. I also started working in tech as a part time software tester back in 2011. I’ve always felt like my depression has impacted my work and this blog post is a reflection on that.
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2011 – That first testing gig
I had been working in supermarkets since the age of 14 and wanted a part time gig that was more related to my studies. I started applying for part time developer roles but was told to apply for a testing gig instead as they wanted someone with more experience.
So I got a part time job testing supermarket point of sale software and stocktake management. It fit my previous work experience perfectly. It was my first mobile device testing role too. I was testing a windows PDA application before the smart phone existed. I updated the test cases and assisted with testing.
I left that role after 7 months because my chronic depression was peaking, I thought I wanted more time for study/volunteering with robogals which I found more engaging. I didn’t have anyone tell me I was doing a good job until the day I left.
In all fairness it wasn’t a great job to start my testing career in. I didn’t get the support I needed to feel like I was doing a good job.
2013 – Contract Work
2013 sees me land my first contracting gig. I only had 1 subject left at uni and was working full time while I finished. It was a government contract and I was starting to get paid better than my supermarket work.
We were helping test the customer care a billing software used to help manage people’s electricity in Tasmania. The governmnet was looking to privatise the energy sector and the software needed to support the split. The sale didn’t end up happening.
I got demotivated from work when the sale didn’t go through. I felt like what I was working on had no value. My boss had a quick word with me and I was fine. But it was the first project set back I had faced.
This was a pretty good team to work for and I had started building confidence in my testing skills. I left this role because I got a graduate position in Sydney.
2014 – The move to Sydney
2014 sees me land a gig with Cubic Transportation testing the opal card fare structure. This was another government project. I enjoyed working on a recgonisable product.
However the project was running overtime, there was social isloation from not having any new friends in a new City as well as working most Saturday’s to attempt to “catch up”.
9 months in and I’m not learning anything new and starting to feel a relapse of depression setting in.
2015-2016 Tyro Payments
I land a gig with Tyro Payments. They process credit card transactions for small to medium businesses around Australia.
Tyro is the still the best company I’ve ever worked for. The pair programming menat engagement was high. I was challenged with how I thought about testing and grew as a software tester.
Towards the end I was dealing with a breakup, spiralling credit card debt, a minor relapse of depression and weight loss surgery. If I had stayed with the company I would have tried to transition to an iOS developer role.
2017 – Peak of testing?
I was head hunted by a company that had one of the leading global tech companies as a client. I thought this was the jackpot. Getting to work for a high tech company with on site catering and sweet arse offices is meant to the dream.
However, as a contractor you are often handed the work they don’t want to give to full time employees. I was triaging public transport bugs for one of the largest mapping apps.
After 9 months it was hard to find the work engaging. I went through another minor relapse of depression just to figure out this wasn’t the pinnacle. I tried applying for other internal roles and wasn’t succesful.
2018 – The Broken ankle
2018 starts with me not being able to walk. This had a huge impact on my mental wellbeing.
I try a quality coach role at Campaign Monitor that I was ultimately unsuccesful in. The recovery from the broken ankle really impacted my ability to give that role my best effort. I didn’t start on the right foot. Ba dum tish.
2019 – Big four bank
2019 sees me land a gig with one of Australia’a big four banks. Though there was some drama with how that came about.
Overall this has been one of the best projects I’ve worked on. It was a greenfield project and I got to influence the quality from the ground up. I enjoyed the team that I was working with.
By now I’m actively looking for a way out of software testing because I don’t want to be stuck in that bucket forever. I was trying to transition to a UX researcher position but it didn’t happen.
The pandemic has seem my mood worsen. I don’t like working from home and I get my energy for work from interacting with people. I’ve now been going through schema therapy to help.
I’m currently studying financial advice as my way out, but that’s going to take me some time I’m happy to do another testing role over the next 2 years. A new team and a new challenge should help me freshen up my interest.
I want to try working for myself but I don’t quiet have the cash buffer I want just yet. A bit of short term contracting might help.
I’d like to work in an environment where my depressive tendancies don’t feel like a handicap and I’m supported by the team I work with.
It’s hard to know what I need to feel supported, I just know my work enviroment has failed me more often than I’d like to admit. I can’t help but feel like there is something fundamentally wrong with me.
What does a supportive environment look like for you?