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Surviving as a Junior in a Senior World

Let’s go straight to the point

In this post, I want to share all of the traits that are helping me to thrive and survive as a junior-level employee in the senior world:

  • Curiosity
  • Thirst for knowledge
  • Asking even the silliest questions from the beginning
  • Clear communication
  • Getting into team activities, engaging in those small talks in the office kitchen. I know it sounds unnecessary, but it really helps you to feel safe and gives you more courage to talk about your ideas and ask questions that might have felt uncomfortable at first.

Those are the tips, and this is my story.

I learned that if you adopt those very traits at the beginning of your career, you’ll feel more comfortable in your skin and be better prepared to make progress.

But for now, let’s take a step back and talk about why I needed to learn how to handle myself in the world of work all over again.

Switching career in my 30s

One year ago, I decided to change my career path.

I wanted my job to be interesting, dynamic, and purposeful. I was looking for a role that would offer me the space to grow as a professional. 

I made my choice and stuck to it. I decided that I wanted to become a software testing engineer, and there were two factors that led me to that conclusion:

  1. I always was interested in IT and had dreamed of work in an innovative tech start-up with a great product.
  2. I knew that my dream of working as a software testing engineer would fit well with my traits of curiosity, empathy, and communication.

So, how did I make the switch?

Well, these days, there are endless resources out there for you to grow and to learn without having to break the bank or go back to university.

My next steps were video lessons, articles, one boot camp certificate, and a strong circle of QA/HR professionals on LinkedIn.

With that, I was ready to start an active search for my perfect job, but before I even got started on that search, I received an invite to talk to Zyro about a possible role.

Why Zyro?

When I was younger, I created a website with Joomla. It was one of the most popular CRMs of the time, and, honestly, it was a very frustrating experience because every little design change required lots of effort and research. 

At that time, I was dreaming that one day it would be possible to find a platform like Joomla that provided simple solutions to simple problems. There was just no need for everything to be so complex. 

Then, a few years later, the new era of simple website builders began. Squarespace, Wix, and others entered the market, and website building instantly became more accessible for everyone.

One day, to my surprise, I found out that there was a start-up in my city called Zyro doing precisely the thing that I had always dreamed of. 

It was great news, but at that time I was tracking the Zyro story from afar, without any idea that one day I would be working there as a QA engineer.

Challenges as a junior in an evolving startup

A new start is always a challenge.

But, it’s at a whole different level when that start comes in an ambitious and fast-growing startup. 

My three most significant challenges as a junior QA engineer were:

  • Understanding the layers of the product and how each aspect is related 
  • Understanding the team structure and my responsibilities
  • Getting into the industry-specific terminology

Those parts were really frustrating, but at the beginning of a career in Zyro, every newcomer gets a buddy to help them with any and every question that a new colleague might have. 

The biggest and the most potent weapon in your arsenal as a junior employee is to have the curiosity and the courage to ask even the silliest questions. 

Everyone is interested in making the product better, and helping newcomers feel secure from day one is one way that Zyro tries to ensure that people can hit the ground running. 

Personal growth

Zyro is an ambitious start-up, and I knew that coming in.

Still, I had thought that my first year in the company would be primarily dedicated to manual testing. 

Why? Well, mostly, I had assumed that it would be to let me get the idea and ease me slowly get into the wild and wide world of QA. 

But I was wrong. The first six months were full of action, challenges, and achievements. 

Sure there was a lot of manual testing (that’s part of our job), but alongside that, I was also involved in:

  • Performance testing
  • Data analysis and status updates 
  • Learning programming while writing automated tests with Selenium and Java
  • Security testing
  • Presenting topics to our internal tech guild

Keep in mind that I had no practice in these fields before Zyro. It was Zyro’s trust and my curiosity that made these things happen, and I’m really proud to be able to say that I did them.

Motivation and ambitions

There’s no better feeling than knowing the impact that even your most simple daily tasks make, and at Zyro, I have always been able to see the importance of my work.

For example, in the first months that I worked at Zyro, I decided to research and give feedback to the team on our user site speed. 

I only knew one word: ‘Lighthouse.’ 

Still, I decided to dig deeper and ask questions that could help me understand more. I wanted to know:

  • Why is the lighthouse score low or high? 
  • How is the lighthouse store calculated? 
  • What helpful information can I provide for our developers so they can start improving the score? 

After some research, I answered all these questions and provided some excellent insights for our developers. Together we came to understand which parts of our product needed improvement.

Daily research, communication, and reporting about our lighthouse score and all its metrics was a big win for the team, and it all happened during my first OKR. 

What can we learn from this story? 

Never assume that a junior can’t suggest any new ideas or that senior people know everything. 

Think freely and communicate.

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